Sometimes choosing what to study can be challenging in and of itself without having to decide in which country you want to study it. Finances are often top of the list in considering whether to study abroad or in which country to study, though this shouldn’t be the superseding factor. As an international student myself, below are other factors I think are equally important when making this decision.
Degree/Qualification and the University
One of the main reasons of going to university is getting a degree, preferably in an area that interests you. That being said, this should be the most important factor when deciding where to study. If the degree you want to pursue is offered and is well established in your home country – why go to a foreign country? In that case, it might be more beneficial (and make more financial sense) to study in your home country and participate in an exchange programme or get work/volunteer experience abroad.
Yes, the reputation of the university is important; but this shouldn’t overshadow the degree itself – this is especially important for postgraduate study. It would be prudent to go to a university that is strong in your specific field; not only will you get the benefit of walking away with a qualification from an institution that is recognised in your field, but you will also be able to learn from people that have experience in your area of interest.
The support offered by the university is also important. You will most likely be far from your familiarities and support network; this is when a university that has systems in place to support and guide students is of virtue.
Culture and language – City/Country
Being an international student usually means stepping into a different culture. From afar, this might seem trivial; but in actuality, this will affect your daily life while in that country. Things to consider range from the ease of being able to practice your religious beliefs, how welcome different nationalities are in that country, how accommodating people are – especially if you are not yet confident in your grasp of the local language, whether there are prejudices with respect to sexual orientation, disability, etc.
Distance from home/support
Moving away from home brings a mixture of emotions at any age; things like having to adapt to a new culture or being homesick can affect your progress. As such, the ease with which you can get home should be another consideration. This goes for whether you just can’t wait to be independent and far from home or whether you dread the thought of leaving loved ones. Life happens and being able to get home, particularly when needed, should be a consideration.
Now, all this isn’t to put anyone off from studying in a foreign country; it’s to make people aware that there are multiple factors to be considered before packing one’s bag and hopping on a plane to uncharted areas. Luckily, there’s a whole world full of people – most are even accommodating and welcoming.