Eleni is currently pursuing her Master degree in Forensic Science at Uppsala University. She found her programme and enrolled via StudyPortals. We asked Eleni about her experience of searching and applying to a university abroad.
My name is Eleni Liapi and I am 25 years old, from Greece.
At the moment, I am studying in Cologne (Germany), conducting my Master's thesis project for one semester. The Master programme I am following is the two-year Master's degree in Forensic Science at Uppsala University in Sweden.
The reason I wanted to study abroad was the specialisation that this program could offer, which was in line with what I had in mind to study after my Biology degree. Moreover, the possibility to listen to experts in this field of study actually helped me make my final decision. Needless to say that nowadays, a lot of international students attend courses abroad, and being a student in an international class always inspired me and enriched my way of thinking.
Searching for study options
I was searching for a Master's programme almost two years before I graduated from the School of Biology in Athens, Greece. I found my study programme both from StudyPortals and by conducting a personal search. Uppsala University is well-known for the research it conducts in many fields, especially in the Biomedical field. In addition, European citizens are entitled to free education in Sweden and this was another reason that made me choose Uppsala University. Needless to mention, the percentage of international students it attracts. StudyPortals greatly assisted my search, as it enlists all the requirements, fees, deadlines in a practical format that makes it easy for the reader to find important information that influences their decision.
Deciding for a University
The main priority was the content and structure of the programme. The courses were exactly what I wanted to learn about, how science can be used to serve justice and shed light on crime investigations. At Uppsala University, we had the chance to attend interesting lectures from international researchers and that made the experience invaluable. The programme cost was also one reason for my decision. In addition, the possibility to conduct our Master's thesis abroad was a reason for choosing this programme, since this opportunity would help further enhance my practical skills. I also have the chance to learn from experienced researchers in the field of Forensics.
Apart from Uppsala University, I was also accepted at University of Amsterdam (UvA). At UvA, the Master's programme in Forensic Science lasts also two years, but the practical laboratory experience would be available only for the last semester of studies. Whereas, in Uppsala University, laboratory experience was part of every course in every semester, especially in the last stages (Master's thesis). On the other hand, at UvA, the students came from different fields, which might have been a very good experience. However, at Uppsala almost all of the students had a Biomedical background, so there was a common ground for all the class. Finally, at the UvA, there are university fees every semester, whereas Uppsala offers free tuition to EU citizens.
I had also chosen Sweden for a six-month laboratory placement under the Erasmus Scholarship, a year before my Bachelor's graduation. So, I was already familiar with the Swedish lifestyle, culture and food. Uppsala was a good choice as it is only 30 minutes from Stockholm (the capital of Sweden). Therefore, if I would need to go to the capital for any special civil services, that would be easy to do. I could also fly from the main airport, which is also near.
I had taken the IELTS test in Athens and the experience was nice. I only needed two month courses and I managed to get a good grade. The reason I chose it was that it seemed to be suitable for most European universities.
My advice would be to focus on the field they wish to succeed in. Then, “weigh” the advantages and disadvantages of their options, ask questions to the course coordinators and make a decision after considering all the choices.
I had the opportunity to have some family help in terms of financial support for the Master's programme. Otherwise, it would have been extremely difficult to go on such a study abroad and work somewhere at the same time. In Uppsala, it was possible to work at student sororities that would run their own pubs, restaurants and formal dinners and have little extra money. I can highly recommend prospective students to search for national and international scholarships for which they would be eligible, as a way to further support themselves financially. Moving abroad for a (usually) two year Master's programme requires careful and thorough planning, as there are big costs when trying to settle in a new city, pay for rent, monthly transportations, books, etc. Finally, care must be taken while searching for housing, as sometimes the applications are greater than the offers. For this reason, “house-hunting” should start early enough.