Once you finish your undergraduate degree it can be hard to figure out what to do next. There are so many options available, further study and travel being just two. Conor O’ Doherty, a DCU graduate, chose to combine those two options and set off to the Netherlands to pursue a postgrad degree in New Media and Digital Culture at the University of Amsterdam (UvA).
There are hundreds of options when it comes to going onto further education, and each have their benefits and drawbacks. Moving abroad can be a more expensive and sometimes a stressful option, but it can also provide an invaluable experience.
Conor chose to study abroad for a number of reasons, including cost and a desire to travel.
“I wanted to leave Ireland for a while, although it’s a great place to grow up, I didn’t want to live there for the rest of my life without living anywhere else,” Conor said. “The other reason is that the price difference is huge when it comes to the cost of postgraduate study”.
Fees for a year in the UvA will cost Conor around €2,000, whereas the equivalent course in Ireland would cost up to €6,800 per year.
“Although I’ll pay more for accommodation and moving expenses, Irish courses usually cost a lot more and they’re generally a lot longer”.
Having lived away from home during his undergraduate degree, Conor is used to managing finances himself. While in Amsterdam he plans to find a place to live and use savings for the first while, but then try and find part-time work.
He found the process of applying for the course “relatively simple” but had some problems getting documentation together, as he hadn’t finished his course before the application deadline.
“My application was a bit of a mess to be honest because I hadn’t finished my course so I had to go to different bodies in the university, both here and in the Netherlands, to organise workarounds,” he said. “The University expects plenty of people not to have their degree yet though, so sending on predicted grades was acceptable.”.
Finding accommodation is something Conor is still trying to finalise before his move in August. Much like the accommodation crisis in Ireland, students looking for somewhere to live in Amsterdam face the same problems.
“I’m using a variety of sites to search like Volta and Pararius, but because they’re for Dutch people mostly, I might need to go through an agency,” he said. “Failing that, there’s very expensive emergency accommodation like The Student Hotel, but I’d rather not have to use that option”.
Conor advises anyone who is interested in a postgrad abroad to take the risk and go for it, but to really think it through before starting the process.
“It’s a huge leap of faith, but the only thing worse than not trying it is wishing you had,” he said. “I haven’t even started the hard part of mine yet and honestly, as stressful as it has been, I’m still very glad I made the decision and followed it through.”
For more information on studying in Europe, including information about various universities to which you can apply, visit the EUNiCAS website.