Katheryn Kerth ’18, Business Administration and Strategic and Corporate Communication double major, studied abroad in Madrid, Spain in Fall 2016. Katheryn shares her journey from study abroad to pursuing a Master’s degree abroad and provides tips for students considering pursuing a graduate degree outside the U.S.
I knew studying abroad was something I had to achieve in my lifetime. I never thought that it would have impacted me the way it did, or even lead to the events that have occurred in my life today. The new year has begun, and I have had some time to reflect on this past year’s decision and even some of the decisions before that. I am currently pursuing my Master’s in Management at Nova School of Business and Economics in Lisbon, Portugal. This adventure really all started with my desire to travel and an opportunity during a semester abroad.
While at Chapman University, I was selected to go to Suffolk University in Madrid, Spain in fall 2016 (it still feels like yesterday). It was my first time leaving the country. I remember now planning and arranging everything. I researched all summer in preparation for my travels. Heck! I downloaded several translation apps and games to practice Spanish before leaving.
The next months that followed me leaving the United States are still some of my fondest memories. Not everything was “perfect”. There were some tears, frustrations, and moments of hesitation… but even after everything I still can’t help but remember how much I fell in love with the feeling of traveling and learning something new every day.
I made friends with people with little to no English. I danced to music I never heard before. I witnessed firsthand buildings and art previously I was only able to see in textbooks. I learned a language well enough to communicate my feelings to others. I lived with a host family that showed me unconditional kindness and appreciation for my fearlessness to travel to a new place on my own. I ate food that I can still taste when dreaming. I have memories that no words can truly describe.
This event changed the way I think and view the world. It changed me for the better and play a huge role in my life. It even pushed me to do something crazier… apply to graduate school abroad!
Well, it’s really not that crazy! But when I first thought about this dream, I was not sure how to even begin chasing it. After graduating in 2018, I was a little lost. I had moved home after some solo traveling and realized I loved the person that I was when living the nomadic life. I began working and was not exactly happy. One day while working and an idea came to mind,
Was it possible to move abroad and make a living?
After countless ideas, attempts, and research; I decided that the best option for me was to go back to school and pursue a master’s abroad. I felt that this was going to strengthen my knowledge in the industry of my choosing and help me to not only experience schooling full time abroad but also make me a more appealing candidate in the international application pool.
There are many options out there for working abroad, but I wanted something that I applicable both at home and abroad. I also wanted something in the long-run would be a lucrative impact on my goals in business and general experiences in life. After searching online, I found a program I thought was best for my career aspirations, fit my budget, and was in a city I was interested in exploring in my free time.
Some of you might also be curious like I was about going back abroad and thinking maybe a master’s degree is the right fit for you. If you’re thinking about this as an option, I have a list below of some things to consider that really impacted me before or after my decision for masters. I hope that they help you as well.
Below I have listed a few helpful tricks and tips for when deciding on a master’s program internationally;
- Explore your options! – I used a program called Study Portals Masters. It was really helpful to narrow down searches based on things I was taking into consideration like location, price, and time. It also helped to show me what types of programs were offered and even allowed me to find programs I had not considered before.
- A master’s program (both in the states and internationally) is difficult! – A master’s program anywhere is difficult, so do not expect this to be a walk in the park. I have currently just finished my first semester of my master’s program. Sometimes it can feel like an uphill battle, but I still feel grateful for this learning experience and still find myself having fun along the way!
- Consider where you want to work and job opportunities in that area. – One thing to think about is job opportunities in each country and consider that the school will have career ties within the area. Take this into consideration when also looking at schools because this can greatly impact where you might apply for jobs and work in the future.
- Set a budget –In comparison to the United States, a master’s degree can be cheaper than others. But best to be realistic, you have tuition fees, international exchange rates, fun activities, nightlife, housing, and potentially not much opportunity to work while studying. Although there are a lot of financial aspects to think about, getting a degree abroad is still achievable!
- DOUBLE CHECK the requirements that each university has for admissions and schooling. Some things to consider:
- Language requirements – Some schools will teach in the native langue of the country it is located while others might only teach in English.
- Testing requirements – Do you need a GMAT or other test to apply?
- Grading – Once I got to my current master’s program, I quickly learned that the school grades different than the United States. It was at first a shock that I needed to quickly adjust for!
- Deadlines – Some deadlines might not follow the same track as schools in the United States. It’s best to start earlier in the search process and keep in mind that some schools do both spring and fall admissions.
- Check the climate of the area – This might sound a little strange but if you are someone who only does summer sports or loves the idea of cozying up when it’s snowing outside, you might want to consider where you plan on moving to!
- Reach out to the university to speak with alumni or current students. This can sometimes be difficult because the school might not be able to give you information on current students, but they might also have representatives for this exact first-hand sharing of information. It’s always worth it to ask!
- Visa Requirements – Visas can always be a struggle. Sometimes schools offer guidance in Visa requirements and some even give you information before the application process about visas if they are more difficult then others. But sometimes you are on your own when it comes to visas. It always best to consider this when looking at schools and necessities you might need before attending.
- Culture Shock – If you have traveled before, you will hear this over and over throughout your preparation periods before traveling. A quick search of the internet and you can find information on possible things you might experience in a particular country you are considering for a degree.
- Remember that this is more than just the degree. Getting a master’s degree means many different things to many different people. How you interpret this is up to you. If you decide to follow this path, you will get to live in another country then your own, experience people from all walks of life (some will become your close friends!), and you will get to enhance your skills for the professional field of your choice. It is a great opportunity that will lead to experiences that help to shape you and your future!
So far my experiences here at Nova SBE have been both challenging, exciting, and most memorable. Lisbon is a wonderful city and has opened my eyes to a new culture. I have made some wonderful friends and can not express how much I have learned these past few months.
Chapman University also has a semester abroad undergraduate program at NOVA SBE through API. Take courses in business, international relations, history, culture, and Portuguese language.