Gratsiela is pursuing her Master’s degree in Science and Service Management at Copenhagen Business School. She found the programme and enrolled via StudyPortals. We asked Gratsiela about her experience of searching and applying to a university abroad.
Tell us a bit about yourself. What is your name? How old are you? Where are you from?
My name is Gratsiela, I am 28 years old, born in Bulgaria.
Where are/were you studying and what programme? What degree and how long is your programme?
Currently, I’m studying my Master’s in Science in Service Management at Copenhagen Business School. It is a two years programme, where on the second year you can choose between taking four elective courses or doing an internship that gives you credits equal of two elective courses.
Why did you want to study abroad?
After finishing my Bachelor in my country I was so ambitious and willing to dive in the business world, and apparently there weren’t so many possibilities to do so as a young graduate. I ended up sending so many job and internship applications and had no response. Then, I started thinking about opportunities outside my country. Due to the reason that my Bachelor degree wasn’t so competitive for the international market, I decided to take a degree abroad where I would have more future opportunities and of course, will challenge myself with a new education system and a completely new study environment.
Deciding for a university
What were your main priorities when choosing your university and your programme (e.g. academics, accommodation, university services & facilities, personal & professional development, city & culture, cost & funding, practicalities, social life)?
I wanted to study something that is still in the field of my Bachelor. I did not want to throw myself into a jungle, where I don’t have any idea about anything. Also, I wanted to scale my knowledge to what my Bachelor degree gave me so far, to study in an innovative and developed country that actually has a reputation of high standard education.
Another part of my choice was of course, a country, where I knew someone, at least in the beginning to have some social life and friends. It is always good to start where you are not completely alone, as it gives you a feeling of being safe and encourage you to take other challenges. It was also mandatory to support myself without relying on my parents; I had to figure out a way to completely support myself while studying. Either a free education, scholarship or programme that allows me to work and study at the same time. Last but not least, I’m born on the sea coast and as Hemingway says “ Everything away from the sea is a province”, so I wanted to be somewhere that gives me a little bit of home feeling.
Was this your first study choice? What other universities did you consider? What was the main reason for your final choice?
I was living in Belgium by the time I decided that I want to continue with my studies. So I started looking for universities that offer programmes related to supply chain management and logistics (as my background was similar). I found universities in Rotterdam and in Amsterdam that had great feedback from students and I checked them on StudyPortals and I wrote them as well, but the semester fee was too pricey for my budget. There were possibilities to get a part of it covered by the government, but it has limited choices for students. So my main reason was that I could not afford to live and study abroad if I had to pay such an amount for my semester fee.
Did you know from the start that you wanted to study in that particular country and city? Why did you choose this particular location?
No, I didn’t. It was a matter of go and try and if it works fine, then OK. If not…. There are plenty of other choices, so give it a go. As I said before, I chose Copenhagen Business School because I had a friend in Copenhagen, I liked the city, and the country has top ranked universities in Europe, where you can study business.
Did you find your study programme on StudyPortals? How did StudyPortals help you in your decision process?
I found the university on StudyPortals and I wrote them an e-mail for extra information. The response was pretty encouraging and got me the feeling that I can do it and it’s not so complicated as it is, but if I experience troubles there is always someone I can ask for help. Then I was directed to the university’s web page, where the application system was really simple.
Did you take a language test (e.g. TOEFL, IELTS) when applying for the programme? If yes, which one did you choose, why and how was your experience with it?
Yes. I had to take a language test to proof my English skills. I decided to take IELTS, due to the reason that it is more human interactive and for me personally, it gave me more comfortable feeling. As well scoring at TOEFL is pretty strict, while IELTS has more open rules about grading and scoring system. I went to a quick guidance course for three weeks and then I prepared by myself, and in less than a month, I scored enough points I needed for the university application.
What would be your advice for students from your country that consider studying abroad?
I would say that they should not hurry up when making their choice; the first decision is not always your only opportunity. Look at all opportunities; don’t be afraid to ask for extra information either from StudyPortals or from the university itself. Then just make a priority list of what do you exactly want to have as an environment and education combined. You are going to live in this country for at least two years, make a wise choice and don’t rush it.
How did you finance your stay abroad and what financial advice would you give to future students?
Personally, I decided to live abroad and work before I started to study, so I lived a year abroad, had some money saved and found a part-time job that was easy to combine with my study programme. Denmark is a country with a high standard and a high-income rate, so asking my parent to support me was not an option that I was willing to take. I still work part time and study at the same time and I could say that I haven’t experienced financial problems so far.
Why would you (not) recommend this particular city / university? How would you rate your experience on a scale from zero to ten (0 – It was a total disaster, 10 – I had the time of my life)?
I would defiantly recommend studying in Copenhagen; from my personal perspective, I love it and there is a lot that the city can offer, big diversity of expats and a variety of cultural events happening all year can make your days so exciting and interesting. The only trouble is finding a place to live, but I guess in every cosmopolite city this is a common issue. I would rate it as a 9,5 as I’m still looking for a permanent accommodation :) .
Is there anything that you would do differently if you could do it over again?
Sometimes I think that it would be much better if I had studied my Bachelor abroad too, it would’ve given me more experience and more opportunities.
What was the biggest surprise in your study abroad adventure?
That I haven’t experienced homesickness because I found myself home here too when you have all the ingredients to fulfil the feeling of being safe and surrounded by people you love or making new friends, who become part of your life. You can be home everywhere you want; just have to look forward and explore.
Were you inspired by Gratsiela's story?