Why I Chose to go to University in England
Since I’ve lived in England, whenever I meet someone new, I am inevitably asked “Where are you from?” followed by “But why would you move from California to England?”
I always find this tricky to answer, because it boils down to the fact that I just wanted to. One day, I got the idea in my head to go to university in England, and when I realized that it was actually possible, my gut told me that this was the direction I wanted my life to take.
By no means do I think this would be a good decision for everyone, but I can make a compelling argument for Americans should consider this route. Without going into the failings of the college system in the US, here are the reasons why I chose to go to university in England and why I believe that more Americans should consider doing the same. Do keep in mind that I went to the University of Leeds, so I can’t speak for all universities in England, but I feel that it is fairly representative.
Tuition is cheaper and you graduate faster
I obtained a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in the time that it takes most Americans to complete their undergraduate studies – four years. A PHD takes an additional three years. Although tuition has gone up in recent years (and you need to pay international fees), it is still significantly cheaper than the tuition of the average American private university. I also paid for virtually no textbooks, most halls are self catered (so you cook your own meals), and I found the cost of living enormously cheap.
You only take courses relevant to your degree
I studied communications, and the only classes I took were in the School of Communications. There was no science. There was no math. My electives were within my chosen school. Therefore, I wasn’t using my energy studying subjects that I’d already taken in high school and decided weren’t relevant to my future career.
There are more opportunities to travel
Europe is at your fingertips. Enough said.
I learned how to use my brain
The most valuable thing I learned during my degree was how to actually use my brain – I am now able to consume media with a critical eye, formulate arguments, and understand the value of thinking in an interdisciplinary way. There is a less is more approach when it comes to academia in England so rather than memorising endless facts and being quizzed on them day in and day out, you are assessed on your ability to really think and understand.
The bottom line is, studying abroad isn’t easy – your friends from home will have a completely different start to adulthood than you, and your new friends will be able to pop home for the weekend while you cannot. The tradeoff for me, however, has been incredible; I have been able to have the adventure of a lifetime at the age of 18, and although I sometimes think about how I could have taken an easier path, I know that really I wouldn’t have it any other way.