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Higher education might be not the most important thing for your happiness and career growth, but it definitely helps you to get to the dream country faster. The easiest way to move out of your homeland is just to go study abroad. Not only it is a perfect way to get more mature and to have life under your own control, but it is just a way to start traveling all over a new country or a new continent.

When I came to Poland…

…my first study abroad experience, 4 years ago, that was the start of my travel journey across all European countries and it enabled me to go live in Germany and Spain later on. Use a new country as a bridge. Students are given an incredible amount of exchange program, internships abroad, volunteering programs and plus if you have a business drive inside yourself, it is way easier to get a grant for developing your start-up when you are a student.

You may say “Well, I want to go studying abroad in the USA, Australia or the UK. Have you seen the costs of living in those countries?”. I had the same perspective, dear. I was always dreaming to wake up and head to the most prestigious University of Europe, somewhere in Germany, the UK, or France. Yet it was too much for my pocket. Instead, I went to study abroad in Poland, paid way less for the living, and applied for the Erasmus exchange program to German Bavaria where I settle down for a year.

So instead of going directly to your dream destination, go somewhere closer, cheaper. Use the Uni programs, get a scholarship, and move again.

The next step for you would be to get an internship offer and stay there, but this is another topic. So let’s start with the simplest thing…

co-working spaces in krakow

Free Universities

1. Germany

EU residences and NON-EU citizens are granted free education. English programs included! Is it paradise? But there is always a ‘But’. Free bachelor and master programs attract huge amounts of talents making the whole application process competitive, strict, and painful. You would also need to pay an administrative semester fee, which varies from €50 to €250.

During my studies abroad on the Erasmus program in Germany, the variety of courses shocked me. Besides free double programs that award you with two diplomas, you can also choose additional free Exel, HTML, design, basic psychological courses and no cost for you.

However, calculate correctly your monthly expenses, as accommodations in Germany are far from being cheap, though there are ways to survive.

2. Scandinavia

Maybe the only region where I would challenge myself to the maximum. With cold climate, wide fields, high fjords, and one of the best educations on the planet. Good news – it is also free of cost for you. But make a deep search of the programs offered and the requirements for each of them. There is a limited amount of free bachelor and master programs in English that do not require international exams or certificates.

Apply for additional grants in Scandinavia countries to drop the costs of living which are extremely expenses in the countries of fjords, rivers, and cold seas

3. Poland

You might be surprised by how many people more and more opt for Eastern-European education. Not only the price of accommodations and food is sometimes 5 times lower than in the Western part, yet their educational model has proved itself and has brought thousands of young talents abroad. Studying abroad may be a bit different from your ‘standards’, however, the universities offer more freedom, less stress, and a good theoretical foundation for your future internship.

4. Austria

As one of the German-speaking countries, this land has pretty similar rules to its sister. EU-citizens will pursue their title here for free, while non-EU would need to invest a bit more so to have to study abroad experience. Still, the price is comparatively low and the government grants dozens of scholarships for students. Tuition fees for non-EU passport holders are around €726.72 per semester (however, this fee doesn’t apply to students from certain developing countries).

One of the biggest pros of this country is that it offers multiple opportunities to travel abroad, participate in exchange programs in the US, in South America, Africa or Asia.

exchange program abroad

Exchange Programs

I would say that this is the easiest, safest, and most reliable way of changing the country. If you happen to study in the Eastern-European country, yet your soul is craving for Western vibes – Erasmus would be just a way to get it. What if you are dreaming about having a year in Mexico, Brazil, India, Singapore, or Australia – Erasmus Mundus would save you! Let’s dig a bit deeper!

1. Erasmus

What can I say if not ‘YOU MUST DO IT!”. From 6 to 12 months of experience in a totally different country, practicing a new foreign language, studying in an international class, traveling with your new best friends and just making the best out of your youth. I had my Erasmus year spent in the Southern part of Germany, in the city of Nuremberg. Unfortunately, my university department had a limited number of study abroad offers (I studied in Krakow, Poland), so I needed to choose mostly from Central-Eastern European countries. I went for Germany as by that time I had been studying this language for a while and it would be just cool to wake up in a country of Octoberfest, renewable energy, and speedy highways.

The application process was extremely easy – 1 essay, 1 CV, an interview with my University professors and voilà, I got it. I was placed in an international dormitory where partying every day was just a synonym for it. I had to change my field of study, so from a journalist in Poland, I moved marketing and business in Germany.

The best part of it is you also get a scholarship for studying abroad. It depends on your university location but in most of the cases, an Erasmus scholarship covers your accommodations and partly food.

2. Erasmus Mundus

As I have mentioned before, you can go to study abroad for free, not only in Europe but also outside of the continent. Most EU Unis have agreements signed with South American, Asian, Australian, USA Universities which will host you free of costs. You can easily choose a University that is over 10K euros per year, yet you will be studying there for free and getting some money for that. I have friends who managed to study for free for one year in London, Manchester, San Fransisco, Lima, Mexico City, Singapour, Dubai. Isn’t it a dream coming true?

The challenge is competition. You will not be the only one applying for this program. You will not be the only fighting for a place on the other side of the globe. But it’s so much worth it. You will be will living your best year and connecting to so many amazing people.

3. EU short-term exchange programs

Another option might be for you to do go on short-term Erasmus programs that normally last from a couple of days to 2-3 weeks. The idea of the projects is to throw you into an unknown environment and integrate you with international people while solving some major tasks. The application is pretty easy and takes place outside your University, however, the competition is not a joke.

Where to find them? An official EU exchanges portal “Youth Opportunities” Tab. 

Another very practical option would be to apply directly to the organizers of these study abroad exchange programs. There are multiple Facebook groups that gather such people and they invite youth to participate in their programs. For FREE. Expenses covered. Here are some of them!

volunteering abroad

4. Volunteering + Accommodations

Maybe it’s not an official educational program and will not grant you a diploma afterward. But it is the best way, I believe, to develop soft skills, make life-long friends and just become a more flexible, more adaptive, and adventurous version of yourself.

I have mentioned not once the most popular world volunteering programs that I have used in order to move to my dream countries and start my career by the sea.

Let’s refresh your knowledge on it.

AIESEC Global Volunteer. 

Thanks to them I had an opportunity to see Salvador de Bahia and become a part of the Brazilian family for a couple of months. The application process is pretty simple and after paying some small fees, you will get accommodations, food, and activities included (in most of the cases, but depends on a program you choose),

Workaway

An online platform that aims to connect people, families, and organizations with those who are seeking a unique experience. There is no official organizer, so you easily connect to the people you are going to help. Conditions vary from place to place. Some offer food, accommodations, transportation covered, while others may even give you some pocket money.

I used this website in order to moe to Spain. To say that this experience impacted my life incredibly is to say nothing.

EVS – Youth Volunteering Programs

Official European Union platform for matching ambitious youngsters with local NGOs or small organizations that have some project ideas to be implemented. Thanks to EVS you can literally move wherever you want.

I would suggest searching for the offers on the official website as well as in Facebook groups.

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