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Isabell in Maastricht

Hey guys, my name is Isabel Waszkiewicz. I’m originally from Milwaukee, Wisconsin which I will address as “MKE” for the rest of this blog post. In this blog I am going to tell you guys about my experience moving from MKE to a smaller Dutch city.

In high school, when junior year rolled around in 2018, I was hit with an immense dilemma: Do I want to stay in the USA for my college life, or look farther from home, like in Europe. I decided to apply to schools in Europe and applied also to backup schools in Wisconsin in case I changed my mind. I ended up choosing numerous schools in the Netherlands as I wanted to focus my studies on biology, mainly human biology, and I wanted to study in an all-English course. Therefore, thorough using Beyond the States, I was able to find numerous courses fitting my needs and wants, in numerous countries. The course that best fit me and provided me with a wide variety of biology courses proved to be a program called the Maastricht Science Program (MSP). I ended up applying here, and mid-senior year I got my acceptance letter. I was beyond thrilled.

Fast forward two-and-a-half years, and I am now about to start my third and final year of university at MSP. MSP is a Liberal Arts and Sciences program based in a smaller, Southern city in the Netherlands: Maastricht. Leaving to come to Maastricht was a big change for me, not only because I didn’t know anyone, but because the city was smaller compared to the MKE I was used to, and the culture was so different.

Specifically speaking, Maastricht is slightly larger than 60 square kilometers, and has a population of about 122,400 people. Compared to Milwaukee, which is over 250 square kilometers and has a population a

lmost 5 times larger than that of Maastricht with 594,600 people. I was in for a big change. However, I could not be happier with my decision.

Personally, I find studying in a smaller city like Maastricht extremely nice and comforting. You can get to know the city, and all of its hidden spots, whereas in much larger cities I feel you can still feel a bit lost after even years of studying there. I also find since you know more areas well, there is also a greater feeling of safety in smaller cities. In large cities there commonly are areas that may not be the safest to walk through at night perhaps, but in smaller cities like Maastricht I find there are little to no unsafe areas, and if there are areas best not travelled alone at night, you know about them well due to their scarcity.

In addition, not only do you get to know the city better, but the people living there as well. In smaller cities you are very likely to get to know local people from your favorite restaurants or small stores extremely well and make connections that are scarce in larger cities. Besides locals, you are easily able to meet up with friends you meet from university whenever since almost everything is less than a 20-30 minute bike ride away. I cannot express how nice it is to run into friends on the streets, especially when you are so far from home. Almost every time I leave my house, I am able to run into, or spot someone I know. I personally find this extremely comforting as I get homesick sometimes and miss friends from back in the US, and these interactions allow relationships to grow in your new hometown.

Lastly, in smaller cities like Maastricht, commuting to class, work, or even to friend’s places is extremely easy. In fact, since the Dutch bike everywhere, I can bike to my friend’s place on the complete opposite side of the city, in under 30 minutes in Maastricht. Most places are reachable by foot, but biking provides a greater ease.

With tight schedules, this proximity helps greatly, as if you are running late, you are usually 5-10 minutes away from work even with traffic. This makes moving places, commuting to work, getting home at night, and even grocery shopping so much easier and faster.

Overall, I know moving to another country across the ocean is already a huge change and causes stress, trust me I’ve been there. I just hope this blog post takes a little bit of that stress away if you are currently worried you applied to a smaller university or will be living in a smaller city. All change is going to be somewhat stressful at first, whether that is good or ba

d stress. In the end however, you just need to realize that you are human, you will adapt, and wherever you end up will bring so many new and amazing opportunities. Take it from me, moving to a much smaller Dutch city from the US was one of, if not the best decision I have made yet in my life.

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Andrea at UCU

by Andrea Pantazi

A typical day at University College Utrecht starts with cooking breakfast in my unit’s shared kitchen. I live with eight other people, but most students only live with 4-6. This is organized differently than in the US, where this apartment-style living is not as popular. 

After getting ready, class is only a two-minute walk away. Living on a campus means that all my peers and my classes are contained in one area, making my day-to-day schedule easy and more manageable, however this is not very common in Europe. Before class, a friend and I catch up and go to Jazzman’s, the on-campus café.

Classes are typically two hours long, with a 15 minute break in the middle of the session. The class size is also relatively small, with the maximum being 28 students, but my law class has only about 10 other students, which is typical for many courses. The professor encourages group discussions and critical thinking. This is similar to other small liberal arts colleges in the US, however the different backgrounds of each student make discussions more lively and interesting. Each student at UCU has some type of international background, having lived in more than one country, or willing to travel and expand their worldly perspective.

After class is over, I walk across the quad to Voltaire, the Humanities building which also has a large study room on the second floor. There, I prepare for my next class. As a first year, I am encouraged to take advantage of the unique curriculum UCU offers and to take a variety of classes, from the Social Sciences, Sciences, and Humanities. My next and final class of the day is in the Humanities. The course is called “The Literary Canon of Human Rights”, and it encompasses a multitude of novels and how they use literary techniques to portray major world events. With my work finished, I head downstairs to the classroom and join my peers in another group discussion. This method of teaching is popular at UCU, however there are other classes that are mainly lecture-oriented, particularly in the Sciences. 

As my final class of the day finishes, I join some friends and grab a table on the terrace of the nearby cafe NOEN, which is very popular among UCU students, and later take a walk through Wilhelmina park, which is just down the street from campus. Afterwards we all head back to Voltaire to finish up some work, and later have drinks on the quad to celebrate the end of the week. Unlike in the US, we don’t have a dining hall. However, we all join together to cook easy recipes and the process is enjoyable with friends to help you.

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Adam Housing

Adam submitted this video for us a few months ago and I immediately sent it to Sam in order to light a fire under his housing search-and it worked!  I’ve enjoyed getting to know Adam through our student ambassador program and recently interviewed him for our upcoming podcast relaunch.  He had really interesting experiences to share around playing baseball in the Netherlands, his academic experiences, and his upcoming semester abroad in South Korea!

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Resilience

I recently let Sam go from his job with Beyond the States.  Since Covid limited job opportunities, I had given him a job helping Stefan with our database updates. Though Sam had developed a great work ethic working at a grocery store throughout high school, this didn’t transfer over to working for his mom and there were a series of problems (usually involving me having to call to wake him up to work which really got me riled up….). I gave him many more chances than I should have and after continued issues, I decided enough was enough.

So why am I telling you this? It’s because I’ve been thinking a lot about resilience lately. There will undoubtedly be things in life that knock our kids for a loop. They are also sure to make mistakes in life that will have consequences. I think we all want them to learn from these experiences and apply these lessons to other areas/situations in their life. We want them to develop resilience so that they know how to get back up and back on track when these things happen. I also know that I am sometimes guilty of protecting my kids from situations that would help them develop those traits.

I was recently preparing for a podcast interview with one of our members who attends ESCP. Her program involves studying in three different countries over the course of the three-year program. Having just adjusted to one country, I can’t imagine going through this each year-especially as a young adult!  Anyhow, I was looking at the website before our interview and noted that the brochure said “Studying each year in a different country will allow you to become more independent, self-reliant and resilient. All important skills for future business leaders to have!” I thought this was such an awesome way to look at it. It’s not that you have to BE independent, self-reliant and resilient in order to face challenges, it’s that navigating your way through the challenges and obstacles can LEAD to self-reliance, independence, and resilience.

I sometimes encounter parents who are worried about the level of independence needed for students in Europe.  There aren’t meal plans, so students cook for themselves.  There is much less handholding from the university and many universities will communicate only with the parents, not students. Sam spent a year eating scrambled eggs or noodles before he started to learn how to make a few more things. Some students learn that they like to cook (good to have these as friends…) and others learn that they need to know enough to get by. Either is fine! While I personally would have preferred to see some more leafy greens in his diet, this adjustment didn’t harm him in anyway and taught him a number of skills.

We have one member who started at a university in Prague this past January, right in the height of the pandemic.  Not only is the Czech Republic one of the more difficult issues with visa issues, but the pandemic made everything harder and prevented his parents from traveling and helping him.  His mother posted in the group in our Facebook member group at the end of the semester about the incredible growth she has seen as a result of him having to handle things like getting a bank account in a foreign country, learning public transportation, finding an apartment, dealing with quarantines and lockdowns, learning to plan his meals and grocery shop, seeking medical care, and working with an agency on around visa issues. I can tell you that they are things that were difficult for me as a middle-aged woman with life experiences to help me.  That our kids are navigating their way through these situations is truly amazing! That’s not to say that it’s always easy.  It took Sam SEVEN trips to the US embassy in Amsterdam to get his passport renewed. Some were due to errors on his part, others because the embassy was being particularly difficult. Nonetheless, he got it done and (hopefully) learned some important lessons throughout.

So, back to my unemployed son… I keep reminding myself that since we provide him with money for groceries, rent, and necessities, I don’t need to worry or nag about his progress in looking for a job (he would likely argue that I need to remind myself about the nagging part).  While I don’t like seeing him bummed about how the lack of spending money affects his social plans, I’d rather have him learn the lessons now when the stakes are lower.  Our kids are learning about attention to detail when dealing with bureaucratic nonsense, planning and time management skills when making mistakes on public transportation, a huge range of communication skills when dealing with language barriers or different cultural norms, self-care skills in meal planning and budgeting-to name just a few.  All of these things are frustrating, but none are inherently dangerous. By getting through these without having their parents handle or fix the situations for them, they gain patience, independence, self-reliance, resilience, adaptability, and perseverance. These are the skills that can’t be taught in the classroom and will greatly benefit them all through their lives!

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Student Life: Taylor at HU University in Utrecht, Netherlands

Will the Creative Business Program Suit You as Great as it Suits Me?

              My name is Taylor Petersen, I am from Washington State and a first-year student at Hogeschool Utrecht University of Applied Sciences (HU). I am attending school here in Utrecht, Netherlands and today I am going to talk about my program, Creative Business. While looking into universities on my search to find the perfect school, the Creative Business program stood out because of the wide range of skills I would be learning in order to inch my way towards becoming the entrepreneurial woman I’ve always wanted to be.

As a Creative Business student, or as the students call it, ‘a CB student’, I have learned an enormous amount in my first year. Each half year is divided into two blocks. In the first block you have your first 3 classes, test on the  m, and then move on to the next 3 classes in the next block. I love this block system for many reasons, one being that I am able to focus better on fewer subjects before me and really delve into the topics without having my brain dragged in many different directions. Thus far in my first year, I have learned the proper marketing fundamentals, I have accumulated skills to cultivate my creativity, learned how to correctly interview and gather information from sources and more. This program has greatly benefitted me and my understanding of what it takes to be a part of a business. Each of my classes have been mostly online due to Covid-19, but the teachers have adapted well, and still manage to engage the students. At the beginning of the year, when my classes were still in person, we did many engaging activities and learned by doing. This is the goal of universities of applied sciences. By applying what you’ve learned you are able to truly understand it, and this is another aspect that was very enticing to me about goi ng to this university.

Throughout my program, there are many levels of personalization that go into your learning process. During the first year, classes are prechosen in order to set a basic level of knowledge for students, but as you enter you second, third and fourth years, you are able to choose things that will benefit your personal future. In the second year, there are 8 main classes that everyone must take, but the other 4 are electives that each student can chose based on their interests. During year 3, it is a totally global focus. Half the year is spent at an internship of your choice (you just have to approve it with the school), and the other half is spent at a school exchange

with the only requirement being that it must be in a non-native language environment. Year 4 is all about the final project and developing your own project of choice. This entire program has so many benefits that contribute to student success and personal development. I have loved my experience thus far.

For the social aspect of HU, there are student and teacher advisors that are there for student suppo rt, whether it be with schoolwork, social life, or just personal issues and advise. There are many opportunities that the school promotes for people to make friends and have a good time out of school as well. Because of this, I was able to make many of my friends.

Overall, the Creative Business program as well as Hogeschool Utrecht in general, is a great place to be. I love so many aspects about it and would recommend anyone who is st ill figuring out what they want to do or is very certain about the path they want and knows this program could help get them there.

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School Visit to Nova Portugal

I recently had my first school visit since March of 2020!  Though there are visits around Europe planned to start in August, I was excited to have my first visit closer to home to Nova Portugal. In fact, it was a mere 15-minute drive from our apartment!

I do not fall in love with every school I visit. I first visited universities in Portugal back in 2018. There were not any blogs about this trip, as nothing I saw especially blew me away. My biggest hesitations were around the international student resources, and small international student numbers.  Portugal has done a great job at positioning itself as a wonderful place for expats and has created several initiatives to lure people to move to the country.  So, it is surprising that this isn’t done at the higher education level yet.

Photo by Francisco Nogueira

I wasn’t sure what to expect going into my visit at Nova School of Business and Economics. This school is actually a department of Nova University Lisbon university-a public university. Given the economic history in Portugal, public universities do not have a ton of surplus funds so you can imagine my surprise when I pulled up here.

As noted, my visit was specifically with Nova School of Business and Economics (Nova SBE) is n Carcavelos, which is about 20 minutes by train to the city center in Lisbon.  The recent history of this school is quite fascinating!  Just over a decade ago, the dean of the school- Alfredo de Sousa-decided he wanted to turn the school into one of the premiere business schools in Europe, with unique offerings and features. He first went to the government for funding, and they said they could offer moral support, but not financial (this was during the Portuguese financial crisis). This did not prevent Mr. de Sousa from pursuing his goal and he spent the next 7 years raising 56 million euros for the project from donors all around the world. A foundation was created that funded the new campus and continues continue to exist with the sole purpose of supporting campus maintenance and scientific endeavors.

I must take a minute to talk about the campus as this is one of the unique aspects introduced.  When I tell you that this school is right on the ocean, I mean that it literally right there! You walk through a campus underpass and there it is! The Carcavelos beach is known as a surfing hotspot in the country, and I must tell you, I think the weather in this part of Portugal is as close to perfect as it gets. Photo by Francisco Nogueira

The new Nova SBE facilities were completed in 2018 and are breathtaking. The campus includes 55 classroom (many with an ocean view), 26 amphitheaters, 24-hour study spaces, a food court, postal delivery service area, medical center, and on campus housing.  The on-campus housing is limited (122 rooms) but there are other student housing providers in the area. This is much more extensive than what is often provided at the departmental level at most European universities.

As impressive as the facilities is the fact that the school has triple crown accreditation. Let me take a minute to explain what that means. All of the schools we list in our database are fully accredited.  Business schools can also seek these “extra” international accreditations through AACSB, EQUIS, and AMBA.  AMBA accredits only the MBA program, while AACSB and EQUIS accredit the entire business school. These accreditations look at things that I think really matter about the educational experience.  Factors assessed include engagement among students and faculty; mission statement; instruction quality; teaching effectiveness; curriculum development, content, and review; corporate connections; internationalization; personal and professional development opportunities for students; and balance of emphasis on knowledge and skills.  Unlike global rankings, which are based entirely on research related criteria, these factors really have an impact on the student’s experience and outcomes! To have any of these accreditations is notable, but to have all three is extremely rare (less than 1% of business schools around the world have it) and is referred to as triple crown accreditation. Given that Nova SBE has the accreditation you can know that the agencies vetted them thoroughly for these factors.

All of the programs at the business school are taught in English and have been since 2010.  There are three bachelor’s programs (Management, Economics, and Portuguese and Business), seven master’s (Business Analytics, Economics, Finance, Management, International Management, Entrepreneurship and Innovation, International Development and Public Policy), one joint management program and one joint MBA program. SBE bachelor’s degree programs take three years to complete and cost 7500 euros per year. Except for the joint degrees, master’s at SBE cost 11,900 per year.

Experiential leaning is a key feature and work with companies is integrated in the curriculum. Additionally, sustainability themes are included in all the programs.  Students do not have a ton of time for surfing as the programs are extremely demanding and the management and economics bachelors are especially math heavy. That said, international student surveys note that students are extremely pleased with how accessible professors are for help outside the classroom.

Professors are not the only ones providing support. The SBE is self-contained (even more so than most European departments are) so students can get all their administrative/student life type needs met without leaving campus. There are offices that provide academic services, career services, counseling, first year mentoring programs, peer tutoring, academic skills workshops, assistance with housing, visa, and other non-academic matters, and more.  Further, there are over 30 active student clubs including topics like investments, entrepreneurship, cooking, and-of course-surfing. Given that the entire business school is English speaking, and the international student body is 40% (which does not even include the 500 or so exchange students hosted every year), accessing resources and student life opportunities is much easier for student than it can be in less internationalized schools.

Portugal is not an ideal place to start one’s career in business, due to lower salaries.  Graduates often seek (and find) employment elsewhere. Nova SBE alumni can be found in 65 different countries around the world, working at companies including Deloitte, EY, McKinsey, Amazon, L’Oréal, Google, and Unilever. In fact, 84% of students are employed within 3 months of gradating and 97% are employed with six months of graduating.

These are the types of school visits that excite me! Ones in which I have no “buts” or caveats to include.  Ones that are strong in academics, international student resources, outcomes, and overall experience.  I walked out thinking about students I know who this could be a good fit for. If you are interested in studying business in a beautiful setting, at a school invested in your success, I highly suggest you check it out!

 

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Why We Are Adding Ireland

As more and more families and students learn about the options for higher education in Europe, Beyond the States membership continues to grow each year. When our membership was smaller, there were more similarities in terms of what families were looking for in Europe. The affordable tuition was a huge factor, and they were eager to explore the options that would provide international experiences for prices comparable to in-state tuition.

Here’s our big news: we’re adding Ireland!

I’m now encountering more and more families who are defining affordable as less than out of state or private tuition, or who are exploring the options due to the other benefits (like transparent admissions, international experiences, and future opportunities). We have a question on the Best Fit List form that asks about budget. It used to be extremely rare to see an answer of over $10k per year. Up to $15k a year is a more common answer now, with some even at $20k+.

When thinking of the varying definitions around “affordable”, I was reminded of a friend who spent a few years living in rural areas of China due to her husband’s job.  Not only did she learn the art of negotiating prices at markets, but she became accustomed to incredibly low prices.  I still laugh at the story of her first trip to the grocery store when she returned to Chicago where she tried to haggle over the price of bananas.

Having been immersed in the continental European tuition rates for so long, I can relate to my friend’s mindset shift as it pertained to affordability. What I needed to remember though, is that this is different from the frame of reference that most Americans have. Further, higher tuition rates may still be more reasonable than in the US for students who plan to study outside of their home state.

I am also meeting a number of students who have academic interests that just don’t have a number of English-taught options in continental Europe. Some of these students are interested in things like Creative Writing, Criminology, Theater, Culinary Arts, or Speech Therapy and have trouble finding a program that really suits their interests. It is not that countries in continental Europe do not have these programs, it’s just that they are much more likely to be taught in the language of the country. Others really want flexibility when it comes to declaring a major, but do not meet the AP requirements of the Dutch university college.

I previously wrote a piece explaining why Beyond the States does not include Irish universities. Cost was the main reason.With the changing needs of our members in mind, and a new perspective on affordability, I jumped back into exploring the options in Ireland and am excited to announce that we will be adding Irish higher education to our offerings next month!

Here is a sneak peek at what I have learned thus far in adding Ireland:

▪ Yes, the tuition is higher than the other countries we list. The average tuition in Ireland is $18380 per year, while the average in continental Europe is around $8000 with the countries with the highest average tuition (Denmark, Sweden, France, and Switzerland) at $13075-13470 per year. Further, tuition rates have a residency requirement so if you live in the US with a EU passport, you will still pay international student rates. However, most of the schools offer international student scholarships and about a third of the schools have FAFSA numbers and work with US student loans. 884 of the 1035 programs take 4 years to complete, 75 take 3 years and 76 have a 3 or 4 year option, with 4 year students doing a year abroad between the third and 4th year.

▪ With the higher tuition rate comes a number of amenities that you won’t find in many other European countries. Many schools own student housing, have beautiful centralized campuses, along with extensive sports facilities.There may also be increased resources around the non-academic needs of the students.I was looking at one school that included a student budgetary advisor as well as peer support leaders assigned to all first-year students. This familiarity, along with fact that it’s an anglophone country, can provide a soft landing for American students who may be nervous about living abroad.

▪ With more than a thousand programs, there are programs in just about any field you can think of! Further, most schools offer programs that are similar to liberal arts. Usually, students choose a certain number of disciplines to take courses around during the first year and then narrow it down to one or two during the second year. Different schools offer different possibilities in terms of courses to choose from and the structure varies slightly between schools as well, with some offering options for a single major, double major, or major and minor.

▪ Like many other European countries, there is a type of university (called technical institutes) that offer full bachelor’s degrees but with more of a practical focus and hands-on approach. These are similar to universities of applied sciences in other countries.

▪ AP scores are not required, but admission for American students is generally based on SAT or ACT scores as well as GPA. Most schools have their programs grouped into categories for admissions, with each category requiring a different minimum GPA and test scores.

We have a team working hard to have everything in the database before the summer session of the On Your Mark class. We will have the bachelor’s programs in the database for all members in June (master’s by the fall) along with a webinar explaining some of the key aspects and differences around Irish higher education.  We are also working on a self paced course (similar to the Netherlands course) which should be ready after my school visits in August.  Since we already have the information and are just polishing it up for the database, Best Fit list purchases now include the option for Irish schools! Remember, the annual membership (discounted through the end of the month) comes with a $100 credit that can be applied to a best fit list. We hope you’re as excited about these new programs as we are!

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Studying Overseas in Utrecht, Netherlands: Taylor’s Experience

“Why did I choose college in Europe? This is a question I get a lot, and often I am not sure how to respond other than simply, why not?” Read more on Taylor’s journey to studying overseas in the medieval city of Utrecht, Netherlands.  

I have grown up in a small town in Washington state, and was very excited with the idea of being able to experience living in a whole other atmosphere in a way I hadn’t before. I am eighteen years old and studying overseas in my first year in the Creative Business program at Hogeschool Utrecht University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands. When looking for schools, I was interested in business school, but wanted to be sure that my desire for becoming an entrepreneur wasn’t lost. That is why I chose the Creative Business program, which heavily incorporates entrepreneurship and helps students along the way. In the program that I have chosen, each course topic has been interesting and informative. 

During the process of applying to schools in Europe, I was focusing on the program that best fit my interests as well as my desired atmosphere. I visited multiple schools around Europe and found that my best fit was here in Utrecht, Netherlands. Some of the other schools I had visited in this process offered good English programs, but when I visited, I wasn’t quite convinced that I would want to live there. I have learned a lot since living in the Netherlands, from budgeting, taking public transportation, time management, as well as becoming more culturally aware. My choice of studying overseas in Europe has been the best and biggest decision of my life. I have grown in many ways from living on my own and grown in confidence because I have also figured it out on my own. After first moving here, there were lots of things to check off the list, such as the visa requirements, residency numbers and more, but after a few phone calls it wasn’t so hard to figure out because people are so willing to help.  

As a student it has been very eye opening to be a part of such an international community. There are many different cultures in my program, and it has been so wonderful to be able to work with so many different types of people with many different backgrounds. With Covid-19 being a part of my first year, it hasn’t all been easy, but there are lots of programs and student organizations that have put in extra effort to make sure that students have the opportunity to make new friends. My main concern with moving across the world during a global pandemic was how I was going to make friends, but it has been easier than I thought to keep connected with other people from my school. I am so grateful for finding this program in this town.  

— Taylor

Thinking of college abroad for yourself? Ease in with our Self-Paced courses where you’ll be guided on how to choose a major, or a university in Europe, get your questions answered on the admissions process, and more. Prices for these chock-full courses range from $50-75, but members pay only $25. And speaking of membership, there is a special limited time offer on Annual Membership right now. Check it out!