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PhDPortal.eu - Find PhD opportunities in Europe
by Gabriela Chamorro Sotelo - originally published on GoOverseas.com
For engineers, a highly demanding academic schedule or the already extended 5 year commitment for a Bachelors degree makes studying abroad an uncommon and difficult decision.The following is a true story about an engineer who managed to study abroad for 1 year and survived.
If you are not an engineer reading this, you probably agree that engineers minds work in mysterious ways (meaning were extremely analytical and just love problem solving). But if engineers love problem solving as much as we say we do, then surely, shouldnt answering the age-old question of is studying abroad worth my time? be a no brainer?
Yes, it can be said that the majority of engineers prefer to achieve their degree in as little amount of time as possible, followed by quickly beginning their dream job where he/she can improve the state of the world and pride themselves in creating innovative solutions for a better life. But I pose the question: why wait to start that dream job? Why not take the opportunity to be part of this dream even before graduating?
As an undergraduate student in Mexico, I had a desire to study abroad in a country where technologies are more mature, developed, and dynamic - France was my ideal choice! Unfortunately, while I was excited at the prospects of studying there, the program I wanted did not fit into my degrees rigorous course schedule. Even so, I refused to give up. After a bit of research, I discovered that my home university had a partnership with DAAD, a German Academic Exchange Service. And that was all it took.
Editor's note: Don't forget to check out your study opportunities in Europe, like the over 4,000 Master's programmes in engineering for example!
Fast forward a few whirlwind months and there I was boarding a plane for a year in Germany, another place with an excellent reputation in the Engineering field. My exposure to the country boosted my academic knowledge extensively, ultimately culminating in an internship where my expertise was challenged through hands-on engineering work. I was able to study subjects in classes that were unavailable at my home institution. Ultimately, I left the country with work experience under my belt, confident in my ability to apply my learned classroom skills into real-world situations (definitely something not many of my Mexican classmates could claim!)
If experiential learning is not a good enough sell to motivate engineers to study abroad, then reflect on the importance of connectivity and how it relates to the future job market. Studying abroad gives you unique global connections that you would not be able to forge otherwise. While technology can bring us closer, I think it is more true that there is nothing better than to experience a place for yourself and develop those connections.
Some may still wonder, "Why take the time to spend a year abroad rather than rushing through completing your education?" While many factors can influence your decision, your academic commitments should not be one of them. Some programs specifically specialize in curriculum for engineering students. Just digging a little will reveal possibilities to go abroad. The facilities provided by organizations like DAAD, CampusFrance, or Erasmus can easily help you to find the best place. If committing to a year abroad sounds overly demanding, I encourage you to research available summer study abroad opportunities for engineers (many short-term volunteer trips, with groups such as Engineers without Borders, are held during this season and often make good fits for engineering students).
Studying abroad will not only leave you with a great statement on your CV, but also a set of developed skills that are crucial in todays international community. Companies value more and more the candidates that have studied abroad. I attended a conference for Engineers across many disciplines where one engineer for a large internet group proudly described his year of studying abroad, exclaiming his investment paid off and set him apart as a top choice for employment. He strongly encouraged attendees to seek similar experiences across the world, and argued the sense of independence, responsibility, and cross-cultural relationships help to build a better professional.
Later when you return to your home country, you are likely to have many thoughts in your mind about continuing your travels abroad. In my case, I did not go back to Germany. After two years of working in Mexico, I came to Sweden to pursue my Masters degree, and I could not be happier.
I encourage all Engineering majors to not pass up any opportunities to study abroad. While also being a fun learning experience, you are oftentimes given opportunities to do things on your study abroad excursion that you would never have a chance to do in your home country. You will get practical experience that will strengthen your professionalism and enrich your adaptability in adverse situations. If you opt to study for a year as I did, you may end up graduating half a year or a year later than you originally intended - but at this point, you will be entering the job market an older, wiser, and more experienced Engineer compared to your peers. If the year is too much to sacrifice, I stress that a summer is not, and encourage you to consider all of your options!
Always look beyond the limits, and do not give up. Take advantage of opportunity and prepare yourself to study abroad!
Do you want to learn more about studying in Europe? Have a look at "Why study in Europe?" or the numerous other articles on the STeXX website. Besides, the following websites can help you to find your study programme in Europe.
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This article was written by Gabriela Chamorro Sotelo and originally published on GoOverseas.com - a community driven website with various articles and resources about teaching, studying and volunteering abroad.