University: Stenden University of Applied Sciences
Course: MSc in International Hospitality and Service Management
Home town in the UK: Bury St. Edmunds.
1. Why did you decide to study abroad?
The want to study abroad was for both personal and professional reasons.
In a world where the fight for jobs is high, it is vital that we stand out from the rest as individuals. Having completed my BA degree at the University of Derby in England, I felt it was necessary to leave the confines of my comfort zone and head out into the big wide world in order to push my limits and stand on my own two feet!
The Netherlands has always been a hugely popular destination for many British tourists due to its closeness to the UK, friendly nationals and also a gateway to the rest of the world due to its transport links from Schipol airport. If I wanted to meet people from all over the world as well as being somewhat close to home – the Netherlands was the place to be.
2. How did you make your final graduate school decision?
My main priorities when choosing a university, especially at Master’s degree level, are the reputation of the institution as well as the vision in which it is heading.
I am a determined individual with passion and hunger running through my veins for the hospitality industry. For myself, it was vital that I chose a university which reflected my own individual characteristics with the vision to going growing while providing excellent services to its students.
Unfortunately today, there is somewhat of a derogatory stereotype which over-shadows the term ‘student’. However, for myself, I disregard the stereotypes which may be associated with myself by others as I believe you will not find anyone as passionate and as committed to my area of study than me. It was important for me that my university saw me as an individual (not just another number!) and allowed me to continue my growth both in my studies and everyday work.
As such, Stenden for me was the only choice I made.
3. How would you rate the assistance of the university before you arrived?
Courses are taught in English, and everyone speaks English as well, meaning I did not need to take an English proficiency exam, while the application process was easy. All it required was to fill in a basic application form, submit my supporting documents and then await a decision.
4. How would you rate the assistance of the university when you arrived?
The assistance I receieved on arrival was amazing.
I was quickly taking to my halls of residence and shown around the area from a local guide. The University laid on a Study Start Week. Similar to Freshers week in the UK, this was a great way to get used to the university culture, meet new people and understand what the course was to entail.
The Dutch have a special way of welcoming you in whatever city you decide to visit. You are quickly taken in as if you have already lived here for 10 years, lots of smiles, lots of laughs and lots of fun. All the conveniences are at hand (shops, laundrette) and transports links are so reliable and frequent here - I have never seen so many bus' and trains!
5. Would you recommend your course, university, city to British students?
Having built fantastic relationships with members of the academic team as well as visiting the university on numerous occasions, by walking the corridors of Stenden, I felt nothing but passion and enthusiasm in the air.
I knew from the moment I first stepped foot within the institution it was the place for me. Students and staff committed to achieving great things. The links with other international destinations and a network of company’s allowed me to open my eyes to the possibilities which are out there. Stenden was a stepping stone in the right direction.
The programme is very compact and will last for approximately 14 months.
So far, the experience has been one which I have enjoyed immensely. I cannot recommend highly enough Stenden University or the Netherlands as places to study.
6. What is your advice for Brits who are interested in doing postgraduate study abroad?
My advice to anyone from the UK thinking of studying abroad is to make sure you visit the university.
I know of so many people (friends and acquaintances) whom are sold the course and university abroad just by looking on the internet and when they finally arrive at the destination, are left disappointed. I strongly recommend that if you are thinking of studying abroad, that you firstly invest money in visiting the institution before making any decisions to make sure that it reflects your academic needs but most importantly, meets with your personal needs.
I always say, visit the university, talk to current students, talk to local people and visit the surrounding areas … gain a feel for the place and then take your time in making a decision. Do not jump into it as there are a lot of decisions (especially financial) which need to be thought about.
7. How do you fund your postgraduate study?
At master’s level, for most people it’s always hard to find financial support. In my case, a loan from the UK government was not available while the banks are likely to charge you double what you borrow in interest alone, meaning you will forever be paying back.
For myself, I was very lucky to find a private scholarship which covered a good majority of the study costs with the rest being made up of personal savings.
8. What are your tips for winning that scholarship?
I recommend thinking innovatively and entrepeneurial, while at the same time think what you could do for the university/course as well as just be a student. Universities are becoming business centres, so any ideas to differentiate them from other institutions may just help persuade them that parting with some of the tuition fees through scholarship in return for work may just be possible.
Prior to my enrollment, there were no scholarships for masters students. However, after meeting with the head of the programmes, I managed to convince them to part with 40% of the fee in return for my services in regards to helping to publicise and market the masters programme next year. With experience in sales and marketing, I was quickly able to pin point areas in which I could help with.
It is true that scholarships are hard to come by when we reach post-graduate level, however there are always ways around this. If you want it badly, you will always find a way!
However, even now I am here, I am constantly on the look-out for paid work to fund the basics of living costs and to help save for new opportunities in the future with the hopes of heading off to America to participate in a PhD in the next 2-3 years.
I am not a typical student … the party days are over. Now it is all about working hard and looking to the future of endless possibilities.