This is a question I got a lot in the US, between exclamations of awe, confusion, and congratulatory smiles. Even after I've been in this Master's program in England for about a month, I still sometimes get the same question.
It wasn't a decision to take lightly, and I have my reasons. Those reasons are just too long to talk about without boring whoever is at the other end of my monologue, so here's a written list!
1. I like a challenge.Giphy
Living and studying in a different country with a different currency, culture, and daily life are the ultimate tests of adulthood, basically. Though I have actually been to the UK before, I actually craved the daily challenges of adjusting to a new place. Given that England is a country relatively similar to the United States, it admittedly isn't the biggest challenge, but there are some.
A greater challenge is acclimating to a new environment and daily life. In the United States, I drove everywhere. Here, I take public transportation, including buses, trains, and trams. This is an alien concept to anyone living in a city in the USA where the public transportation system is relatively poor. Coming to a new country is also like starting afresh. It's unlikely you'll bump into anyone from high school or a past job. I've opened a new bank account and bought student discount cards for transportation. I went shopping for kitchen and bathroom basics. It's not something that most people do often in their life, if ever. This is like a new clean slate for experiences and learning opportunities. Also, I've wanted to study in a different country since I was 16. At that time, I almost got the opportunity to study in Germany for free, but my mom stopped me (see what you did, mom?!).
2. I wanted to be a part of a diverse community.Giphy
A university that offers international admission will inevitably have a widely diverse student body, from all countries and backgrounds. On my course, there are two people from Greece and one from Indonesia. On trips with international students, I have met students from Taiwan and Slovakia. As someone who had international exchange students in high school and met more international students as an undergrad, I've always been interested in global communities. Each person I meet comes from a place I haven't been to (yet), and their perspective and culture teaches me something that I would never have learned otherwise.
Universities and scholarship postgraduate programs are offering up more and more scholarships for international students, making it that much easier for anyone to attend their dream Master's program.
3. I wanted the opportunity to broaden my network.Giphy
Along with the diverse campus, there is the opportunity of making connections with professionals from a different part of the world. I wanted a chance to study with people with similar interests and career goals who were also from different countries. From a career prospect standpoint, this network I'm building may prove to help me along in my career. Studying abroad builds a history that certainly stands out in a resume. Even if I move back to the US, my international Master's degree gives me a pretty amazing competitive advantage. It will indicate to an employer that I have developed a high emotional intelligence and a cultural sensitivity and awareness, which is not something employers in the US come across every day.
4. I wanted the option of working in a different country.
It's pretty much a given that while in a different country, you can meet employers in that country. Whatever you want to do, there are more places to get into your career than you may realize. Some of these places are overseas. I want to explore those options and find a way into the career that I want, not just what I can get with an undergraduate degree.
5. Studying anywhere in Europe opens up travel opportunities.Giphy
Suddenly, all the places that people dream about going to are a short cheap flight or train ride away. While I'm here, I'll probably be going to the Netherlands, France, Germany, Belgium, Morocco, Italy, Greece...and wherever else I can afford.
All in all, any study abroad opportunity is an incredible one, and anyone reading this should definitely consider it.