Studying a Master’s degree abroad- My experience

“Studying. The lovely excuse to have a break from working!”, I thought about a two years ago when I was going through ways to jump out of the treadmill for a while without  giving up on the career already built. Little did I know what this little break time would grow into!”

Why did I take on Master’s studies abroad?

At that time I worked in fashion retail in Helsinki. It wasn’t that I didn’t like my job, because I loved the company culture and my colleagues were the best! However, I somehow felt that I wasn’t doing what I was supposed to be doing. I felt frustrated.

Since my Erasmus-studies in Barcelona, I had missed back to the warmth of Spain. I also had a dream of studying a Master’s degree abroad, but I had forgotten it for many years after graduation Bachelor, since it’s expensive, and also, it’s not very smart to leave your job when everything’s going well, is it?

I wanted to do a shift from administrative tasks towards marketing and sales. Master’s is often a good way to focus on your preferred field. It doesn’t mean that you will automatically then get a job on that field, because in the job market, work experience seems to weigh more. However, it’s something to start from and many times schools sponsor you on an internship period, which might be the needed step towards right contacts and work experience to begin the career you dream of.

And then the time was right…

Having gone through a “learning to live in the moment”- phase in my life already, I knew what I would need to do. A change was knocking on the door, and I would just need to have courage to go through it. I think that often life offers us options right in front of us, but we’re too busy to notice them, or we might not want to see them. Change always means using extra energy and resources, having to leave something behind and having to courage to step into unknown. Why would anyone give away the comfort of their life to go through that windmill? Despite all the extra effort needed I had a strong feeling that I needed to do this.

Well, this feeling finally put me on a life-changing series of events. At first I simply Googled on options while thinking: “What a silly idea. I’ll never have the money to do that and it wouldn’t be too smart to leave my job here”. But the idea was already implanted, and as often happens to silly ideas, it started realizing itself in the next 6 months.

Practicalities, and financing.

Once having decided, that I was going to do this, I had to find out the “how”. Luckily in Finland there is a possibility to take a study leave, and since I had the best workplace, they let me go and supported me for going after my dreams. All companies should support their employees to go abroad really! Imagine what knowledge these people will bring into the company when they come back!

Usually Master’s studies are expensive. My degree was about 12 000,00 euros, which scared me off in the beginning. However, the schools often offer an early-bird discount, discount for paying it at one time, and scholarships. In the end I had to pay around 7 000,00 euros. As studying in Finland is for free, it still felt like a lot of money, but after careful budgeting with my most important sponsor, my mother, we were able to make it. Saving money, using credit card and having my mom to support me, the dream was soon to became reality!

I’m so grateful for having parents that support me, and understand why I needed to go abroad. The support from your family is important!

Unaware of all the changes that would happen in my life, I soon found myself reading the e-mail confirmation from EAE Business School in Barcelona for Master’s in Sales and Marketing. From the time of getting the confirmation, the following 6 months working in Finland was the time to save money and spend time with my friends and family before going. The anticipation was so exciting!

The Study Experience

EAE Business School offered Marketing and Sales in English and Spanish, and I studied on the English class. Most of the students in my class were however from Latin America, so although the classes were in English, the jokes were mainly thrown in Spanish. We also had students from Egypt, Turkey, Lebanon Albania, Russia and Italy, but I was the only one from Finland. We dove straight into the world of marketing and sales with practical business cases and a lot of multicultural teamwork and this was just what I wanted from my studies: Learning skills that I can start applying directly on my career.

Studying in Spain after having studied in Finland, is quite different. Schooling system works differently in every country, and I came to realize how appreciated my education was abroad. I was often asked about our education system, and I kept insisting that it’s a rumor that we don’t get any homework, because we do! Education is one of the most important things in the world to overcome poverty and to have equal rights for women and children, so actually anyone having the access to studying is privileged.

We soon became friends with the students in the class. The classes were daily 9-14 after which we would go for lunch and work on our homework and group exercises and projects which were many. The life outside the classrooms was social, lively and I would say this was as important as the studying itself. We helped each other with assignments and stayed up till late hours to finish everything before deadline. Sometimes there were stressful times, but it was balanced out with lighter schedules at another time.

Many of the students come here to just live the experience already knowing they will go back. For me, it was different. When coming, I already knew that I might come to stay so my mindset was a bit different. I came to build a new life and for me the Master’s studies were only the first step in starting to pursue the international career in Marketing and Sales, which was what really was interesting to me and what I’m still working on. Still, I wanted to take everything out of this possibility to enjoy student life before returning to working life.

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The team building day organized in the beginning of the semester helped us to get to know and trust our classmates, understand each other and work better together.
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Taking a selfie on a class trip.
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We participated on the running event organized by EAE Business School.

 

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The Graduation day happiness!

It’s not about how your life changes, but how You change in your life.

Main things that changed during my Master’s year were my decisive nature, my understanding to the cultures I yet wasn’t familiar with, and getting new professional skills, that I wouldn’t have gotten without this degree.

While the Master’s degree in itself is an unforgettable experience, I realized that it’s not only the accomplishments that matter in our lives, but actually what happens around it, is the most important. Building the relationships that support your personal and professional development are built during getting together with your colleagues to work on Master’s thesis, calling late night to get help with a finance assignment, going out and having fun after examination week with your peers, joking about the habits your classmates have in their countries and seeing how different but still so similar we all are.

Each of us came here to study for a purpose of their own, and for each of us, it was a dream turning into a reality and into an achievement in life. Sharing this experience with friends and a community of the school is just amazing. As my friends are booking their flights to go back home after having finishing their internships, I will have to let go again. But the memories, and the experiences will stay there always. That’s what life is about. Trying, experiencing, making an effort, failing, succeeding, letting go and building new.

This experience is not life-changing, but mind-changing. You learn to recognize the characteristics of your own country and culture, question your behavior models, and adopt new ways of thinking. If we want to grow and change our lives, we need to dare to look at that challenge and let it into our lives. It’s hard, exhausting sometimes, but it’s also exciting and wonderful. Holding on to what we were or how our lives were before, is a waste of energy.

My biggest learning?

As a person who always wants to plan, secure things and have control over the details, it was close to a revelation to understand, that I can never plan my life so much, that something unexpected wouldn’t happen. Actually, when I decided to just relax and enjoy the ride, things started falling to their place by itself! I met my boyfriend, I ended up in becoming a part of a community at my pole dance studio, and I built a life here. I understood that the fear of failing was actually keeping me away from creating myself the life I wanted to.

It’s important to understand what you’re afraid and learn to control it and only then, can you start to live fully.

If you’re thinking about doing something, just do it and see where it takes you! You don’t have to have it all figured out before starting. You will find out the answers, be helped, get to know the right people, become better and learn to know yourself along the way. Don’t be too scared to try, because if you don’t even try, you will never know.

Just the beginning

Grateful and in awe about what I have experienced during past 1,5 years living in Barcelona and excited for what is yet to come on my career and my personal life, I will carry this experience with me always seeing that it will greatly affect my future life decisions. (And my travel destinations since now I have friends from around the world that I need to go and visit. :))

If you are still thinking about going to do Master’s studies abroad, find out the practicalities and organize it. Even if you think something is impossible now, with patience, good planning and persistence, you can make it possible! It’s worth it!

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Looking down to Barcelona from Bunkers del Carmel.
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