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Studying with ADHD in Europe

Jennifer Viemont
Founder & Chief College Advisor
October 29, 2022

Listen to this podcast.

In today’s episode, Jenn welcomes Liza, one of the original BTS members, who some of you might know from TikTok. She will talk about her experience studying in Europe, as a student with ADHD.

Furthermore, Liza will share her insights in how to utilize her strengths related to diagnosis and all the knowledge about strategies that help her personally in areas she struggles with. Tune in and learn how to use your disabilities as an advantage!

However, before we jump into an interview with Liza, you will get the latest updates on Sam's studies in Europe and how he overcame the difficulties studying amid the global pandemic.

In addition, you’ll find all about October special, a Crunch Time Pack which is offered only twice a year. Get your Best Fit List soon enough! It’s limited to 5 students only.

“The positive thing about ADHD? When something is enjoyable, you can dive in!” Liza Majeski

Full transcription of the podcast.

Intro: You're listening to the Beyond the States podcast with Jenn Viemont. Did you know that you can go to Europe and get your entire degree taught in English for less than one year of tuition at many American schools? Jenn will take you on a deep dive into the many benefits and options around English-taught higher education in Europe, helping to make the possibility less foreign.

Jenn Viemont: So today you're going to hear from Liza who a lot of you already know from Tik Tok. She's going to talk about her experiences studying in Europe as a student with ADHD. And I have to tell you, I was so impressed with her insight into how to utilize her strengths related to her diagnosis. And also her knowledge about strategies that help her personally with the areas that she struggles with. Not every student though, has this level of insight. So today, I want to tell you about some experiences which have been quite different than I realized. So Sam was diagnosed with ADHD right around fifth grade, he had a 504 plan and used some accommodations in middle school. But by high school, he wasn't using them. He really didn't need the accommodations that were part of his plan. He kind of coasted through high school, you know, he'd get behind and he'd play catch up, did very little homework, very little studying. But he still graduated with more than a 4.0 with very little effort. And then he got to college. So he started at Leiden University in the Netherlands and his difficulties the first semester were more related to prioritizing his social life over his academic life than anything else. So locked down started that March, which of course forced a decrease in going out. And without so many social distractions, he was able to really buckle down hyperfocus and get his grades where they needed to be. But through this time, he realized a couple of things. One is that the straight theoretical, you know, the kind of the pure theoretical focus that was part of his program wasn't so appealing to him. And he also learned that he hates economics. So we looked at the curriculum and realized that the rest of the program was still very much economics focused and theory focused. So he decided that he wanted to look at other options. Planning ahead is one of the struggles that Sam faces. So he decided this, or at least he talked to me about it, and started working towards it pretty late in the year. So we're pretty late in the school year. So many application deadlines had already passed, and we didn't have a ton of options. So he was really interested in a program at AAU, where lies it tends. They have an international relations program with the security studies specialization that interested him, and it's somewhat rare, but he really loved the Netherlands still, so he also thought it'd be easier to stay there. So he started over at a different research university. And it was appealing to him because this one uses problem based learning. And this is an approach that generally makes theoretical topics more relevant. So that was definitely appealing to him. So the year was supposed to be hybrid, this was, you know, last year, what is it now is 2021. So this is 2020, fall of 2020. Supposed to be hybrid, you know, because everybody thought COVID would be a short lived thing, but you know, due to COVID, it switched to entirely online. So this certainly affected the problem based learning aspect. Many of you have probably been on, you know, big zoom meetings before. And it's always like, kind of a problem, like who's participating, you can't tell, you know, sort of the social cues that you get in person about who's going to speak, who's not going to speak and all of that participation is affected. And having the setting for problem based learning was difficult. Also, for him, studying in his room was really difficult with all the distractions, and he really didn't have any alternatives, you know, the campus was closed, you know, so it's not like he could, you know, go to the library and have a place with less distractions, and even places like cafes or things like that. Around the city, we're also close. So really studying in his room was the only option. The program he was in used a block schedule. So he had five weak periods with just two classes. So even with the struggles that he was having, he finished the first four of eight blocks with good grades, and he received positive non binding study advice. So let me back up and explain binding study advice BSA to you. This is something used in Dutch universities, both the research universities and the universities of applied science. Basically, first year students have to achieve a certain number of credits in the first year in order to receive positive binding study advice. Without positive binding study advice, you aren't able to come back for the next year. So it's basically like you're kicked out most of the unit First cities, even the research universities that are that are highly ranked have the number of credits that first year students have to obtain at about 45 credits and a full year 60 credits. So this means that a student can fail three classes, and still come back for the second year at most universities. And you might be thinking, Oh, of course, you know, my kid, or I'm not going to fail any classes. I've never failed any classes. But I have to tell you, great inflation is not a thing at most European universities, and failing a test or even a class really isn't so rare. That said, not failing more than three classes is certainly a reasonable expectation, especially since students can reset tests that they that they fail, each school will have a certain number of resets that you can take after the quarter. You know, usually, if it's a full two semester program, you would be done with your courses around Christmas, and then recents would be in January. For the second semester, you'd finish your courses usually, June and then research will be shortly thereafter. Since every school I've ever looked at in the Netherlands, allows students to fail a certain number of classes the first year and still come back, it would indicate that there is some consensus that even if a first year student fails these classes, they can still be successful in future years. So it didn't even occur to me to check with the Binding Study Advice number when Sam changed schools because literally, every other school in the country does not expect the full 60 credits. But guess what his new university did. So well. Other universities reduce their number of credits required even further this last year in recognition of the negative impact COVID and online classes have on learning. CMT University has its program, so the only concession they made was they said we'll drop the lowest exam score at the year. Further, the average of each block of classes had to basically be the Dutch version of a C, which is a six.

Okay, that's Binding Study Advice. Let me get back to the story. So I think I left off mid year, where Sam had just received positive non binding study advice, even with the distractions, insight into his struggles is another area is one of those kinds of executive functioning skills that is hard for him. So he didn't even because he was able to be successful, those first four blocks, he didn't realize, oh, maybe I should get some assistance or whatever else. So the next block was, guess what? Economics is his worst topic ever. On top of that, there were major problems with the final exam. And so many students failed due to the problems. It was like how questions were written and things, questions about things that weren't covered, there were major problems, so much so that the student union went to administration about it. administration agreed that there were problems with the test. But the only concession they made was that the reset wouldn't count towards the max number of resets. So yeah, this helps a student who exceeds the max who has to take, you know, four resets, when only three are allowed, they'd still be allowed to do that. But it does very little to help the other students especially since they have to take the recent at the end of the year because of the block schedule, which is four months after the material was even taught. However, because there were problems with the test, it still wasn't clear to Sam that he was struggling. So as noted, he knew about trouble he had with distractions with online classes. But he also knew there was nothing he could really do about a given COVID restriction. So he did well in the next two blocks after economics. But the final block, he was a 10th of a point away from passing. So he then received non binding negative study advice at the end of the year, which told him that if he didn't do well enough on the resets, again to have a C in each course, then he wouldn't be able to come back. So he took the Econ reset in early July, right after classes ended, but still four months after the course ended. His other recent wasn't scheduled until mid August. So he didn't receive His econ grade until the last week of August. And his other -- it was a law class, the log raid, he got two days before school started. So because he had a 5.9 to five, instead of a six 5.9 to five, instead of a six. In the midst of a global pandemic, he was issued negative self study advice binding. So again two days before classes started after a lease was signed for the year, and after admissions, deadlines and other schools had passed. So he appealed the decision. He noted the impact that COVID and online classes had on him. How his ADHD related struggles contributed. He talked about the obstacles you faced with the ability to study elsewhere. And you know, answered the different questions that are on the appeal form, the response he received was that quote, If you were struggling, you should have contacted your university for help or use the resources that the school provides you with. So another student he knows appealed due to depression that they were struggling with during COVID. You know, the lock downs and the isolation brought on a lot of mental health issues for them. And this student had actually sought therapy throughout the lockdown and offered the name of the therapist with the appeal. And they received the exact same response that Sam did. So I have to tell you this, if you read our blogs, you know that I'm someone who is very aware of my kids shortcomings, and I absolutely know that Sam's study skills are lacking and that he has poor planning, and a real difficulty realizing or admitting when he needs help. But we're in the midst of a global pandemic, Sam had, in fact, emailed his advisor during the year and received no response. And because the university was shut down for most of the year, students weren't able to access different resources. There were students I know in other programs at the same university who had similar experiences, and also weren't able to return. It's not just this one particular program at this university, or, or sort of just seems experience. It's other students I know, from beyond the states. And they too, had tried to access their professors and their advisors to no avail. The administrators I've talked to at the school, they've noted that adapting to COVID measures didn't go as smoothly as they hoped it would. And that they also noted that sometimes it would take a long time before advisors could reply to all their emails. And I totally get this just in the way that the global pandemic affects students. Of course, it's going to affect the runnings of a university too. I mean, who can prepare for this? But the thing that really pisses me off is that they maintain such high standards for students, that they didn't hold up on their side of things during a time that nobody could be expected to know how to deal with. And that they scheduled the reset so late, without ensuring that they had systems in place to turn around the grades quickly, it really left students like Sam in a horrible position. I'm not sure if there was an administrative change at the school. Because, you know, previously I actually thought highly of the school. Or if there just haven't been issues like this to see how they handle students during times of crisis, but either way, it's a real cause for concern. So, okay, back to my story. So Sam finds out on a Monday, this was just last month, September 6, that he's getting negative binding study advice, so he wrote his appeal. But we also started talking about another plan. So he was still intrigued by this international relations program at AAU, the security studies specialization. So he contacted them that same day that Monday, he explained the situation and they helped fast track the admissions process for him he had, it was actually so he contacted them on the Monday, the last day to drop or add courses was the next Monday. So we did everything for them. Everything turned in a week. And it was just so great that they were willing to do this for him. He had to move really quickly in writing his essay, that same day actually started writing it that Monday. So he was digging through the website gathering information for his application. And he got so excited about the courses and about the school, that he decided this wasn't going to be his Plan B even if they accepted his appeal, which we know they didn't. This was what he wanted to pursue. And so it was really good. Because when we got that appeal rejection, it wasn't like, Oh, fine, I guess I'll do this. It was okay, I'm changing course. And this is a really good option I have that I'm going to pursue no matter what the outcome of the appeal is. So a hugh has American and check accreditation, so they take credit transfers, which is still going to allow him to finish his program and just another two years, so he's still on track. Didn't lose a year with that. So the check visa process I have to tell you is no joke. So he's starting classes online. He's staying with us to do this until his visa comes through. And he's also starting to work with an executive function coach to help him develop strategies for studying for distractions for time management, for planning and all of those things that are going to help him not only during his studies, but really just help him through life. So I have to tell you, it was a crazy couple of weeks, but I do feel like things have really worked out for the best. I think Sam would have been a lot more resistant to getting help to develop these sorts of stuff. Jeez, if it weren't for the situation. And like I said, these are skills that will help him in so many areas of his life. More than that, he's finally in a place of loving learning, again a place. It's helping him love learning again. So he called me, he had the interview with the dean, as part of the admissions process that first week we were talking about in September. And he and I had prepped for all sorts of questions about, you know, his recent grade and things like that. And instead, it was a discussion of global politics and current events. He had a great time in this discussion, a great time in the interview. And he said, You know, I'm excited about learning again, for the first time in more than a year, which just gave me goosebumps. I mean, the love of learning was such a huge part of Sam as a person. And I think he felt a little lost without it. So it's really good to see him getting back to that. I'm also so glad he's at a school that really seems to care about their students as people, the fact that he explained his situation, and someone worked harder than they had to, to help him get through the admissions process quickly, to help him really says something important. Now, I'll admit, there's a little part of me, that's like, three schools in three years. And then you know what, I remember that I went to three universities, and I really didn't find my groove until the third one. And you know, it didn't negatively affect my career one little bit. My dad, in fact, went to three grad schools. He started at a seminary, he was the son of a missionary. So there was a pressure there, and then he's like, yeah, no, not for me. And then he started studying assyriology. And then he was like, oh, there aren't as many job opportunities there. So then he got his MBA, and he has had great career success. The simple fact of the matter is that there's not just one right path for everyone to take, whether it's in the US or whether it's in Europe, whether it's one school or multiple schools, it's about finding the right path, the support and the school that's right for you as an individual. And I really think that AAU will be that place for Sam. Okay, so, lots of information there. I know. We're going to take a quick break and come back with Liza.

Testimonial: I'm Taylor and I'm from Washington State. And entering my second year of study at HQ University in the Netherlands. I learned about my beyond the states because my family originally had membership for my older sister who ended up attending a university in Prague. Even though that experience gave them a great understanding of college in Europe. My sister and I have different interests and goals, so they knew that they would return when it was time for me to check for out the options. Both me and my sister use the best fit list service along with a membership. I filled out a form that had questions about things I like to do my academic areas of interest, preference about my location, my academics, budget, and so much more. And I sent it to Jen, Jen uses information to come up with four of the best options specifically for me, this wasn't just a list with the names of schools, she gave information about things like courses in the program, the location, admissions information, and why this specific program was a great fit for me. Without this list, I may not have had this program on my radar, or found this school. The best fit list will save you so much time and prevents you from making mistakes in your selection. It's super fun to explore the database, but felt less pressured after giving this list. If you're a junior, or especially if you're a senior, I highly recommend you to order the best fit list. Check out the show notes for details in a link or visit the Services page at beyondthestates.com.

Jenn Viemont: Okay, so today we are talking to Liza Majeski, which I just said five times trying to get it right. Liza was wouldn't be original beyond the state's members back when we had we just started had very few people learning about it. And it's been really exciting to watch her progress from interested high school student to now a graduate from Anglo American University in Prague. Lise was a student body president, she spent a semester in Prague, she had a Tiktok about studying in Europe that went viral. I mean, there there are a lot of accomplishments that have gone on here as an international student, you know, dealing with those obstacles. And then also with another I don't know if we want to call it an obstacle or not, but also as a student with ADHD. So I do get a lot of parents asking about that. So today, we're here to talk to Liza about her experiences and as a student, and also the other piece of it are, how she found the resources for ADHD. So Liza, thank you so much for being here today.

Liza Majeski: Thank you for having me.

Jenn Viemont: So let's start with -- well, let's get the the ADHD stuff out of the way. So we can just talk more about your experiences. And what I'm curious about, you know, a lot of people say they're my student, my student had accommodations in high school. So what was your experience coming into university? Did you have accommodations in high school? Did you have a 504 plan? And how did that sort of transfer over or whatever in the university setting?

Liza Majeski: Yeah, so I see. I mean, I was diagnosed when I was like, eight years old. So I've kind of knew about it my whole life. I was basically, I mean, growing up, I knew that I didn't know that I had ADHD. I wasn't really told it. I was just, I just knew that I learned differently from other people. So I had, I was in like academic assistance through elementary school in middle school. I was like it just before middle school, I graduated from that and went just into normal classes, which is definitely a struggle. And then when I was in high school, and I started to take higher level classes, like AP classes, I was like, really struggling. And I wasn't really understanding why I was struggling so much. So I went to school psychologists and I was like, I know I have a learning disability. It's just kind of frustrating that I don't know what it is really, like, I've kind of been told that I have ADD, I've kind of been told to have processing disorders, like I'm not really sure what exactly it is. And so I pulled up my file, and they're like, yeah, you definitely have ADHD. Like, that's, that's what your diagnosis says. And I was like, oh, good to know. So I started to work with the school on that. And I was like, I just like, can't get any assignments done on time, you know, all that fun stuff. And I was like, I can't finish the tests on time for the life of me all that. And so I in my junior year, I got a 504 plan. And I decided to go on that. So I didn't have it for most high school. But when I was doing the higher level stuff, I was like, I really need the extra help, or just the extra time. And I also went on medication as well, at that time, I decided that I wanted to go on medication. And yeah, so I got all that set up basically in my junior year of high school. And it really helped me junior year and senior year. And then for University. I went to Anglo American University. And it carried over pretty easily. I think I actually even talked about it in my, my essay that I wrote for them or like my, one of my letters of motivation to That's right, like, I don't know if it's still this way, but I had to write three short essays. And I think I actually use ADHD as one of my topics. And so in my interview, I want to say they even brought it up just to be like, you know, you have like, you should definitely tell the school about this to make sure that you get the proper help. And I was like, great, you're very accommodating. I just told the dean, I told the Dean of Students and sent them my paperwork with like, my 504 paperwork, actually, still, to this day, the paperwork that they have is the 504 paperwork from high school. So this summer, I'm going to try to get that updated, because it doesn't look good. But I'm still using paperwork from 2017. But um, yeah, they were very accommodating. I just carried it right over and any issues basically, the thing is, though, my 504 plan allocated 50% extra time on assignments that were reading or writing, which is basically literally everything you do as a humanities student, like there's no math in humanities. So I didn't, and I didn't have, I only took the -- because I tried when I made my five or four plans. Since I was older, I really tried to like make it not get -- I didn't want to give myself too much leeway. I wanted to still give myself deadlines, and not too much extra time. So I didn't have any leeway on math, only reading and writing. So that's what I struggled with. And they gave me the same, they carried it over the same way. 50%. But usually, in university, you have long term papers, it's like you have a term paper that's due over the course of a term. And it's like, you can't just take a whole extra semester to write things. So there were like, I did have to work with my professors and just kind of be like, look like, yeah, we have this paper for the whole semester. But like, let's be real people only ready to get in the last two weeks if that. So, yeah, I might need a couple extra days or like on exams, they were very nice to give me extra time. But they made it work. They usually, like there were some professors that were a little bit like, Yeah, I'm a slow reader too. And we're kind of rude about it. But for the most part, people were very nice and very accommodating. So it actually worked out really well.

Jenn Viemont: So it sounds like there are two traits. I heard from you that set yourself up for success. Number one, it sounds like you're proactive. I mean that you went to your school psychologist, you're like what's going on? You know? And then the other thing is asking for your needs to be met, you know, being assertive. And that's a skill that's not fully formed in a lot of 18 year olds. Especially. I have a 20 year old son And it's barely starting to form. So what can you say? And again, the other issue is that in Europe, you know, the universities don't really deal with the parents very much, if at all, so are there is there advice you could give students who maybe aren't as proactive or resourceful as you've been things they can do to develop those skills or any advice you might have.

Liza Majeski: I think that I was pretty lucky in that growing up, I was, I think I was put on medication very briefly, when I was like eight years old, and my mom didn't like the way I reacted to it, she thought that it made me kind of a shell of myself and took me off it and put me in all sorts of therapies. And a big focus of being an academic assistance was teaching me skills, like organizational skills, and time management skills. And there, I'm really, really thankful that I had that help growing up, because that, like I had the non medication help. And I'm really thankful to be on medication now. But as a kid I developed those skills. Because there's skills that I have to consciously think about constantly, like even today, I have horrible time management skills, horrible executive dysfunction, like, I'm definitely like, I mean, at this point, it's gotten to where I, I think so consciously about it, that my friends definitely perceive me as being very, like a very organized person, and someone who's like, on top of everything, but I also probably just have really bad impostor syndrome with that, and I'm, like, no one knows, disorganized person ever. And to be real, like, I can't show up anywhere on time. But like, I'm still definitely not super organized. But it's really like, I think what really helped me was once I started to research, ADHD, and research the symptoms, and you know, the ways that it affects you, not just only as a student, but in your real life, and to understand those things like to understand, like working memory, to understand executive dysfunction to understand time blindness. And I like the way that we perceive time, because what I've realized in the past few years, few years is I literally do not perceive time, I can I just don't, I didn't realize it until like, probably the past year, but I just cannot grasp the concept of time, which is super weird. And I don't know how to explain it, but I'm completely time blind. And so understanding those, the way that ADHD impacts, just the way that I perceive the world has really helped me to kind of fit into a more neurotypical working world, and to understand that the way my brain works, and how it's different from normal people's brains, and so, because I did that, I'm pretty good about, you know, kind of, just like fitting in a little bit more and fitting into the expectations of like, a neurotypical world. So I think that was like, that's my biggest advice is just understanding how your ADHD impacts you, because it's a little bit different for everybody. And so just understanding, like, what parts of it impacts you the most, and the way that you see the world and versus like the neurotypical brain that's like, that was my biggest thing was understanding all.

Jenn Viemont: That this was sort of researching and taking ownership. I mean, because the other thing we have to notice, is not all negatives, when you have ADHD is not all negative. Regarding traits, you know, you might find that some of the ways that ADHD affects you or lead to certain strengths, and you want to integrate that and then, you know, work on other things that affect your lives negatively. You mentioned medication and how do you do that from abroad? Do you have a psychiatrist sir, in the Czech Republic? 

Liza Majeski: I do not. I bring my medication from the US. And it does take a little bit of budgeting, especially now that I don't go home as often. I maybe go home for like, I mean, I went home for like a month that Christmas, and I'm going home for 10 days next weekend. But because I go home less frequently, I do try to kind of stock up when I'm home.

Jenn Viemont: Are you under your parents health insurance in the States? Yes. So you don't have to pay out of pocket for.

Liza Majeski: But I think they're getting rid of it. So now I need to think about that.

Jenn Viemont: Pretty soon you've aged out of that too, because you just graduated and you're going to grad school. Now this is going to be interesting because you're an American school now. Well, American and Czech while you were at it, you graduated from a school that's American and Czech. And so it's going to be interesting to see how your accommodations carry over. Once you're at a Belgium university that doesn't have American affiliation, and is a graduate school program. Have you talked to them about that yet?

Liza Majeski: No. I was actually just talking about this with my friends. This morning at breakfast, I was saying I really should probably see some sort of psychologist or something here. So that's just to get my paperwork updated, because I think that they'll be like, come on this paperwork is from high school like, and I'm fully confident my ADHD has gone nowhere, but go out. Exactly. Like I'm pretty sure it's still very much affecting me. But I want to just have updated paperwork. So when they look at it, they're not like, okay, like, you don't need this anymore. And I actually don't plan on using my accommodations in grad school. At least that's the plan right now, I do want them to be aware of it, though. So I do want to, you know, tell whatever, dean of students or whoever manages that at, at via and explain to them, just my history with it. But I don't think I'm maybe a few weeks into classes, I'll be like, Whoa, I can't do this. And also work because I'm planning on working, hopefully, you know, I might not be able to handle it. But I think I'd rather actually take less classes and stretch out my degree then. Then carry over my combinations again. Nice. That's what I'm thinking right now.

Jenn Viemont: Knowing you have that option that's utilize them if if you decide that,

Liza Majeski: Especially on exams, I don't think I'll take it for essays and all that, like I think I can usually I at this point, I don't think I've actually used my accommodations. In two years. I think it's been two years since I've ever used it. But I want professors to be aware of it, especially for exams, because exams is where I really, really struggled to finish because it's you're sitting there like with an essay, I can pull an all nighter and try to get it done. I mean, it's a little it takes more than usually a night to write an essay now. But I used to be able to do that now. It's harder. But I can like, you know, I can pull an all nighter, I'll stay up all night, I'll find the time to write that essay. But with a timed exam, you only have so much time to like work. So I think that exams is where I really need that still. But we'll see. I'm going to, uh, hopefully I'll talk to them. And I'll see what they recommend and hopefully talk to a psychologist here, or maybe when I'm home next week, we'll see.

Jenn Viemont: Yeah, that's true. It might be easier once you're home. Interesting. So, as I mentioned in the introduction, you've been the student body president, during a kind of tumultuous time at AAU to where you know, you weren't just playing in like, violent movie nights. I mean, you had some serious work out of you. You spent a semester more than a semester just over a semester in Malaysia.

Liza Majeski: Yeah, it was a little bit more than a semester. But it was it was one semester of school. And then I think I ended up being there for like six months.

Jenn Viemont: And you're like huge on TikTok. So talking about college in Europe, I can't tell you how many people we have find us because they found your TikTok. And they're like, “Oh, I didn't know this was even an option.” So these are some major accomplishments. And you graduate with honors, didn't you? Yeah. kamati. Yeah. And you graduated with honors? So we have these are just the four that I know off the top of my head, I'm sure. Especially if I talk to your mom. I could hear about six others. I mean, these are major accomplishments you have going on here? How would you say no, we talked for a minute about the positive side of ADHD? Would you say that there are any of those positive traits of ADHD that helped you accomplish these things?

Liza Majeski: Oh, totally. Like one thing that I'm totally speaking of tick tock like I see so many tech talks about ADHD. And I see that one way that ADHD is described is that we're always just kind of chasing dopamine, like we're just chasing the dopamine because ADHD brains are dopamine deficient. So when something you know releases dopamine in our minds, we just, like, go all in and we're like, looking for that. So I really, I've learned to love learning kind of, in a way. And so also just being active in the student scene and being like an active student, I really ended up. I mean, I did not plan to run for student body president, let me just say that, like, I never thought I would be student body president. But the new school year rolled around, and it was the position was open. And multiple people said to me, like go for it. Because if you don't go for it, I'm gonna go for it. And I was like, Fine, okay, I will. So I did and I got elected. And then there was like, all this chaos of the year. And there was, I mean, this nitrification there was a pandemic. So it was like a crazy year for that all to happen. But I think that with ADHD, I really, I've learned, I love to just dive all in in one thing at a time, and just batch work and just dive into a certain thing that I'm into in that moment. So you know, at the beginning of the school year, I was all in on Student Council and I was like, it was stressful, but I was just being totally devoted to that one thing I really enjoyed and it's like it's the hyperfocus like on a broader level, almost Yeah, yeah, it was like, I just got really, really hyper focused on student council. And then, you know, sometimes I hyper focus on Tiktok. Sometimes I, I definitely had to force myself to hyper, hyper focus on exams and on my thesis and all that. But, you know, that's one great thing about ADHD is when something is like, really enjoyable, you can totally just dive in and really hyper focus on that one thing, right?

Jenn Viemont: And then you and since you know how to hyperfocus, then you can apply it to things like exams or readings that maybe aren't interesting. But you know, this is a skill I have, this is a strength I have that can apply in these other areas.

Liza Majeski: So, yeah, yeah, it's definitely I mean, it has to be something that I enjoy, or else, it's never gonna happen. I'm never gonna want to focus on it. And that's when medication is great. Because that will kick me into Drive. But yeah, if something I genuinely enjoy it, I will just focus on it for hours. I was working on managing social media right now. And for a business here in Prague. And I was up until 4am. Working on it the other night, just because I was like I have more I could do I have more ideas. And I just went all in made a huge presentation, like huge documents of all of whole strategy for their social media got super into it. And then I was like, I looked at my clock, and I was like, I have to midnight, I should go to bed. I looked again, it was like 2am. It looked five minutes ago. And it was midnight. And then I was like, It's fine. I'll finish up one thing. Look at my clock one more time. I was like, oh my god, it's 4am. I'm a lunatic. I can't believe I'm still awake. And I thought it was maybe 1am. At most like there's a timeline here we're talking about Yes, complete timeline, the high to not perceive time at all.

Jenn Viemont: So you're talking about this work you did and your master's degree. So your your major at AU is humanities, society and culture, right? Yeah. So this is interesting, because I get a lot of people who say, Oh, you know, I don't want to choose my program like you have to do in Europe, because I'm scared. It's going to kind of pigeonhole me. So humanity, society and culture is not a business and digital marketing program. Yet you're able to do this, make some money, do that doing this and seek a master's degree that's related, correct?

Liza Majeski: Well, the reason I could get my master's in this is because it's a social science. So they required that my bachelors be a social science, because in Europe, they're so like, they care so much about having a related bachelor's degree to your masters. And so I was, I was scared about that. I was like, I don't know if they're gonna take me. But they listed social scientists, under all the programs that I looked at for digital media and new media. They listed social sciences as counting because I'm studying the way that digital media and new media interact within society. Some, like studying the societal aspect of it, which is good, because it kind of connects to my bachelor's and what I'm probably going to end up doing, which is more media related stuff. But yeah, it's because it focuses on the societal level, it does work, but I was a little bit surprised that they didn't give me anything extra I needed to do beforehand.

Jenn Viemont: Well, there are a lot of multidisciplinary, Master's degree programs or that overlap. So if there is something like with business and social science and you meet that social science part, you're still eligible, it really doesn't pigeonhole you that much. So the other thing I get a lot is I get students who come to me in the last year who say, I saw Liza on TikTok goes to AAU. So I want to go to AAU. But it's interesting because you have a brother who's at a different university. Right? So do you think that there's one university that's right for everyone, or?

Liza Majeski: No, I don't think so. I mean, I think that they're great aspects of AAU, and they're great aspects of other universities. I mean, I've only – other than Taylor's University in Malaysia, I've only been to a year. So I haven't studied in another international university other than tailors, and I do love AAU for the community that it gives new immigrants and new foreigners because a lot of the students I mean, when I arrived, it was mostly students with, with experience living internationally. And now I'm seeing it's much more I wouldn't say more common, but it's becoming more popular for students at ASU to have no background living internationally. And I think that's one thing that's really great about AAU is that it really provides that like international student community. And it's a close knit community that I've heard some other universities don't have so much, but my brother also had never lived internationally before either. And he found a great community at his university. So I think that there's great aspects of AAU, but yeah, not everybody needs to hear your I'm sure they would love that. I'm sure they would love me if I just got like everybody to go to you. But know that I actually just made a video about this how you don't, because a lot of people were really focused on having American accreditation. And I was saying that you don't need to have an American accredited university, there are universities that teach in English, all over the world, like, even if the whole university is in an English, like they have English programs that can almost guarantee that like, like so many universities, it's like almost every other university in Europe teaches at least one program in English. And just focus on things that'll be internationally recognized.

Jenn Viemont: Some things are tricky, but not you don't need to have the American accreditation. That's what I tell. I actually just did a recording where I was talking about the only times we really need American accreditation, or if you plan on going to med school. And that's really it. I mean, there's professional licensure issues. But if you look at graduate schools in the US, there's a huge proportion of percentage of international students, you know, people are accustomed to seeing diplomas from from international universities in the world we live, I think that's easy to lose sight of when you're in the US, you know, because I feel, I don't know, more insular or something. I'm not sure. But it is easy to lose sight of until you start experiencing the world and seeing Oh, you know, I'm part of this global community, not just this, this much smaller one. Interesting. Okay, so you're moving to Brussels next year?

Liza Majeski: Or this year? Yeah, this year.

Jenn Viemont: I suppose. So you're moving to Brussels.

Liza Majeski: How long is your program one year, but if I do get a job, when I go there, I might do my thesis in the second year, so that I can focus on having a job and going to school. I might not get a job, but I probably should. So cheers, I'll talk to, you know, whatever Dean or advisor I have when I get there and see what they recommend if I'm getting a job, like a part time job. But yeah, it's meant to be one year, it's meant to be one year.

Jenn Viemont: Have you worked during your time in Prague?

Liza Majeski: Yeah. Yeah. I've been an English teacher for three years.

Jenn Viemont: Interesting. And did you have like TEFL certification or anything?

Liza Majeski: No. No, I, this is the first time I did not even think much about the job before I applied. I just had a friend walk into the school Cafe one day and was like, Hey, do you need a job because my place is hiring. And they're really desperate. And I was like, yes, that would be great. I looked for a job. But I've been meaning to look for a job. So I heard about this job, I applied. I just gave them my resume. I had experience working with kids, obviously, I'm a native speaker. And they were like, impressed by how much I've worked with kids because I was a gymnastics coach in high school. And I did an internship in the elementary school in my hometown. So I had all this experience with kids. And they were satisfied with that, and hired me. And then I just had, they do training, like on site training. So I was trained, it just wasn't a TEFL. It was, you know, the training of the program that I was with. So yeah, it wasn't that difficult, honestly. Nice. Yeah.

Jenn Viemont: So would you have long term plans now like after your master's degree? Do you think you'll go back to the US? Do you want to stay in Europe?

Liza Majeski: I'm definitely staying in Europe. I don't see myself in the US.

Jenn Viemont: Well, the cool thing, please tell our listeners about what you have when you graduate from a Czech University.

Liza Majeski: Oh, yeah. So when you graduate here in the Czech Republic from an Czech accredited program, is that you get a nine month job seeking visa, might be six months six to nine month job seeking visa, and you have access to the job market. So you don't need Yeah, oh, no, not for the rest of your life for nine months.

Jenn Viemont: I think life. 

Liza Majeski: Well, I think that after that time, you Oh, maybe maybe it is I always have it for this job. That would be nice.

Jenn Viemont: I spoke with the pastor from Czech diversity of life science and American who went that route and is that you do have access for the rest of your life. You can stay on the visa for certain, you know, for the job seeking visa, but you could apply for check jobs from the US and five years later and still be able to get them without having to get like the work permit and all that stuff that makes people hesitant to hire.

Liza Majeski: Yeah. Yeah. Okay, that's cool. I thought that it was only for those nine months. That is good to know. Well, yeah. So you get access to the job market. I'm actually still going to apply for my job seeking visa even though I'm moving because my visa my my residency expires at the end of August, but I'm probably moving in September and there might be a gap but I figure it's like I'm qualified for the visa I might as well just apply and have two ongoing visas and like just stretch my residency a little bit longer. But yeah, that's like super cool that I'm that you get that you have that available. You don't need it cause jobs don't want to pay for a sponsorship like, and there is a bureaucratic hoops and things like that that they sometimes have to deal with. But they don't have to if you graduate from a Czech University makes it a lot easier just to work in the year.

Jenn Viemont: Yeah, absolutely. So tell me this, what I'd like to close out with places you've been able to travel, even I know COVID Limited some of this, but you had a good couple of years pre COVID to write. And then we had a couple of times over the last year and a half for COVID restrictions were lifted. So what have been your travel experiences? Oh, gosh.

Liza Majeski: Well, it's been four years of traveling now. So quite a bit. I mean, I had that semester in Malaysia. And so I traveled all over Southeast Asia, but not all of it. I was very broke. When I was living there. It was actually really good that I was living in such an affordable country at the time. But while I was in Malaysia, I went to like Bali and all over Malaysia, and Borneo. And then while in Prague, let's see, I have been to Spain, Italy. I've been to Spain, twice Italy four times. France, England, Germany several times, Greece, three times. The Netherlands like two times, Norway, Poland twice. Istanbul and Cappadocia in Turkey,

Jenn Viemont: Capital gives the coolest place in the entire world. It was amazing.

Liza Majeski: It was super, super beautiful. Yeah. Yeah. And I think there's more but Oh, and of course, the ones like all the bordering countries on Czech Republic, you know, Austria and Slovakia and all that, you know, and then around the Czech Republic, and there's probably more than for Kosovo, as well.

Jenn Viemont: As travel is such a key benefit, you know, just that you can travel even look for cheap flights, which are often available. Ellie and I are going to we're in the US now. But when we get back, we're going to Switzerland. And everybody. I always for some reason, thought Switzerland was super expensive, and it probably is to live there. But we were able to find super cheap tickets, you know, like under 100 euros round trip, affordable hotel rooms. And you know, you have that flexibility. And it's so easy to get places as well.

Liza Majeski: It's so easy. I went to Italy last week, because I felt like life was getting monotonous and monotonous. If I say that monotonous. I was getting bored. And I found a $44 flight and I just went to Italy for two days. I booked it two days before I left. It was like Friday, and I went on Monday. And I was just like, Yeah, I can't do this, I need to leave, I need to just go somewhere. So I went to Italy for two days. And it was amazing. I invited my friends but nobody could go so I went alone and it's travel and just go like you really don't need to think about it too much. You know,

Jenn Viemont: I love solo travel more than anything. So I wonder if that spontaneity is also part of one of those ad related strengths?

Liza Majeski: Yeah. ADHD today? Yeah, it's definitely like, impulsivity impulse buys is definitely a symptom. But you know, positive as well. Yeah, definitely gotten a lot of opportunities by just going for something like without really thinking about it. So my friend, sometimes I take maybe dumb risks, but my friend thinks that I'm missing the part of my brain that makes me not want to die. Like I wanted to climb on, I was climbing on or I was going to climb on the roof of her building. And she told me that was stupid, which it probably was. But like things like that, like I like to go cliff jumping every time I go travel like I was gonna I was cliff jumping in Italy, because I saw some locals cliff jumping. So I thought that was fun, so.

Jenn Viemont:  Your mom's gonna listen to this, you know.

Liza Majeski: Should I go cliff jumping in my hometown, she's fine with it. I don't know if she's fine with it, but….

Jenn Viemont: I've just been so impressed. Like I said, I've been so impressed watching where you've taken this experience. It's not just like you're this passive participant, you've really taken control of your life and your experiences and made so much out of it. And I can't wait to see where this all takes you and all of you. So yes, that's us today.

Liza Majeski: Thanks for having me.

Jenn Viemont: Thanks so much for listening today. Before we end, I'd like to tell you about our October special which is called the Crunch Time Pack. So I only offered this twice a year. And it's for students who are going to be applying for the fall of 22 and are feeling behind on the research and it's a personalized and comprehensive package that's really hands on with me to make sure that you know all the ducks are in a row. So the first thing that comes with is a best fit list. This is a service we offer where I personally handpick three to five programs that fit the student's qualifications, budget, interests, preferences, all of that that they provide to me through a form that's that's emailed to you after ordering. It also includes a line jumper pass the turnaround time for best fit list is off in about three weeks or so because we get so many of them. And with the line jumper paths, you'll get your best fit list just 10 days after submitting. It also comes after you get your best fit list back, we'll have a one hour consultation. And we do this to formulate your admissions plan, and also answer any questions you might have. After that, I create a custom admissions calendar for you with all the deadlines, you know, when you need to ask whichever teacher for a recommendation when you need to write your motivation letter by all of those are going to be on a calendar specifically for you based on the schools you're applying to. And then it comes with email check ins that I'll send you around those dates saying, Hey, you got that reference letter yet or you know, just to follow up. And for some accountability, which I know helps a lot of people including myself, also comes with a motivation letter review, where I will go through the letter you write for admissions and give you suggestions about organization structure, content, etc. And it also comes with a Facebook group membership, which is only usually available to our month to month members, which of course if you're about to apply, you might not need a full membership, but you do get access to our incredible community of families. So a lot of the services you can't purchase separately, I don't offer the calendar. For instance, I don't offer email check ins, for instance without this package. But if you were to add up the cost of the other services that we do offer, the cost of this package is $525 less than if you paid for the available services separately. Because it's such a personalized service. I only accept five students at a time. So you're going to want to make sure to sign up really soon. If you're interested. You can find a link to this special and also more information about this episode in our show notes. And you'll find a ton of other information on our site, which is beyond the states.com you'll find blogs, some by me others are written by our student ambassadors, they have both written and video blogs. You'll find links to our old podcast episodes that we did back in 2017, which is a great starting point. And you'll also learn more about our various services and our incredible community. We'd love for you to follow us on Facebook and Instagram. If you have suggestions for future episodes, just shoot us a message there. And finally, if you enjoyed the podcast we'd really appreciate it if you'd leave a review on iTunes or Stitcher. Thanks again for listening.

Jennifer Viemont
Founder & Chief College Advisor

5 Reasons Why You Should Study in Europe

If packing up your whole life and moving sounds more exciting than terrifying, then you'll love what colleges in Europe have to offer you. These are 5 reasons why going to college in Europe will be the best decision you'll ever make:

1. Tuition is much more affordable than the US.

In continental Europe, the average cost of all the English-taught bachelor’s programs is just $7,390 per year. Since 1985, US college costs have surged by about 1000 percent, and tuition and fees continue to rise. Even when you factor in the cost of travel, going to college in Europe if often cheaper than one year of tuition at a state college in the US.

2. There are thousands of English-taught degrees.

Choice is another key issue. When cost is a chief consideration, you may be limited to only in-state schools, where tuition is lower. What if your in-state schools aren’t a good option for your chosen field of study? In Europe there are thousands of programs to choose from across 212 areas of study, and they are all taught 100% in English, so there's no need to worry about learning a new language.

3. International exposure is essential and highly valued.

Students who studied abroad stand out from the crowd when seeking jobs after college. The very act of leaving their comfort zone to make a fresh start in a new place builds skills and confidence that will be carried throughout a student’s life. Silicon Valley billionaire investor, Chris Sacca, describes international study experience as a critical differentiating characteristic among candidates. According to former General Electric CEO Jack Welch, “The Jack Welch of the future cannot be like me. I spent my entire career in the United States. The next head of [General Electric] will be somebody who spent time in Bombay, in Hong Kong, in Buenos Aires.”

4. You'll avoid the US admissions rat race.

The college admissions process in the US has become a race to the bottom as students compete with their peers for a single spot in a liberal arts college, convinced by parents and guidance counselors that their survival rests on playing a musical instrument or varsity sport.Many smart kids don’t do well on standardized tests. This doesn’t limit them as much when looking outside of the US, as many colleges in Europe do not require standardized tests. Many countries see entry into universities as a right, rather than a privilege, so admission standards are not as stringent.

5. Spend your weekends & breaks exploring the world.

Travel opportunities abound when attending college in Europe. For example, Lille, a city in northern France with multiple universities, is close to major cities such as Brussels, London, and Paris via high-speed rail. Air travel, especially with the rise of affordable airlines like Ryanair, EasyJet, and Transavia, can be comparable in price to rail travel, so many more destinations open up for short-term travel.

How to Get Into the World's Top Universities

When you also factor in the many problems with US higher education, it is imprudent not to consider other possibilities. It is true there are many excellent schools in the United States—I don’t think anyone would argue that. There are some that have managed to look at applicants as people, and not just a checklist of achievements. Some even have reasonable tuition rates, and/or professors that actively teach and have highly engaged students. Despite this, I have yet to find a school in the United States that addresses all of these issues: allows students to opt out of the rat race the admissions process has become, have reasonable tuition, AND have positive results around the educational experience and post-graduation outcomes. Not every school in Europe provides all this either, but the schools listed in our database do.

How to Find Degrees in Europe That Are Taught in English

Finding these programs is burdensome, difficult, and confusing, especially with institutional websites in foreign languages... We know that making the decision to study abroad can be difficult, so we want to make it easy for you. We scoured the continent for vetted programs and made them available to thousands of families looking to leave the US and find a better life in Europe. We found over 11,200 degrees, 870 universities, 550 cities, and 32 European countries to choose from. Europe offers an impressive range of educational opportunities!

We have gathered all of the information you need to know about studying in Europe – from the different types of schools available to how to get housing and everything in between. Our database helps you find these programs quickly and easily, helping you contextualize the many benefits and options around higher education in Europe.

You will be able to find programs and courses that suit your interests and needs, taught in English by experienced professors in state-of-the-art facilities. Purchase a membership and search our database of English-taught European bachelor's and master's programs to get started on your journey to Europe today.

Get a Free Insider's Guide

We created free guides that give you the skinny on 5 bachelor’s or 10 master's degree programs in Europe that are taught in English, uber affordable, easy to get into, are great for opportunities, and give you life-changing experiences.

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To explore more countries, cities, and all of the universities, get access to the full database and search through over 11,200 programs taught entirely in English. You're bound to find your ideal program.

Beyond the States matches you with your ideal English-taught college in Europe.

Beyond the States provides access to 11,400+ European bachelor's and master's programs across 870 universities, 550 cities, and 212 areas of study, plus all the resources you need to get there. No sponsorships. No bias.
3400+
English-taught bachelor's programs in our database.
8000+
English-taught master's programs in our database.
550
Beautiful European cities to choose from.
870
Top-tier universities accepting international students.
€293,558
Typical savings against a private university in the US.
€55,098
Typical savings against in-state tuition in the US.
All inclusive of tuition, living, food, books, health insurance, travel expenses, as well as hidden fees. Compiled with data from students and the official websites from KU Leuven, UNC, and Duke.

Listen to the College Insights™ Podcast

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What Transparent Admissions Requirements Really Mean

Featuring Jennifer Viemont
It’s that time of year again… College admissions are on the minds of many students who have attempted to get into their choice schools across the US; it can be a deeply confusing and stressful time for many.
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Master's Degrees in Europe for International Students

Featuring Jennifer Viemont
Her conversation partner this week is Sean Dempsey, a past BTS member and recent graduate of the highly-ranked KU Leuven, in Belgium.
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Will a European Degree Work for Me in the US?

Featuring Jennifer Viemont
Is a degree from Europe valuable enough in the US? Does it allow students to get into grad school and get a good job? Who gives accreditation to universities in the States?
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How to Get a Master's Degree in Europe

Featuring Jennifer Viemont
In today’s episode, Jenn has an interesting discussion with Tiffany, a parent of one of our members, Ethan. She became so interested in the Beyond the States process herself so that she’s amid planning admission for herself and her husband – for a Master degree program in the EU!
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Avoid the Pitfalls of College Rankings

Featuring Jennifer Viemont
How useful are college rankings actually? What do they measure? Can you find great colleges in Europe without relying on rankings?
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The Myth of American Exceptionalism

Featuring Jennifer Viemont
We're going to be talking about the differences in the educational experience, meaning the academic side of things that students have in Europe versus in the US. So I'm always taken aback when people assume that universities in the US are the best globally.

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