Sunday, April 22, 2018

My struggles to travel abroad as a student for pursuing P.Hd #DefinitelyPTE

Image Credit : MS Word 2010 Clip Art

Going abroad for tourism, job offer or further studies are seen as a growing trend among many aspiring individuals. These could be attributed to the vast influence of globalization, internet, social media, movies, and the growing importance of international experience. The experience of visiting abroad as a tourist/s is much different than working or studying.  There lays huge set of challenges that one needs to be prepared for or when encountered. The set of challenges or hurdles may vary depending on whether you are a student or working professional.

However when we talk about pursuing studies abroad, it requires meticulous planning keeping in mind we would be miles away from our motherland and family.

When I was planning to move abroad for further studies, one of the initial hurdles that I faced was lack of awareness of how to go about starting visa processing, funding options/ agencies, accommodation, food etc as I come from a small state and we did not have good internet connectivity those days.

I had no clue as we did not have the exposure to career fairs, career talks or other information from country specific organizations e.g. British Council, Goethe institute (Germany), Alliance Francaise (France). These organizations in collaboration with universities (local universities in state & foreign universities) could provide useful first-hand information on the universities, language courses and other criteria or requirements for the same. These organizations are mostly located in metro cities and they regularly organize events. This gives way to enhance student exchange programs or cross collaborative programs among the two countries.
Image Credit : MS Word 2010 Clip Art

One of the common requirements for many universities abroad is the English proficiency course for which I gave my IELTS and Pearson Test of English Academic (PTE academic#DefinitelyPTE  exam in Bangalore. Though PTE has many centers across india, i choose bangalore since all tests centers were available here and i found lot of friends with similar aspiration. Collaboration became easier.

PTE academic test was accepted in some of the colleges i had shortlisted for applications such as : The University of Southern Queensland - Sydney Education Centre, University of Applied Sciences Frankfurt, Cambridge Education Group, Buckinghamshire New University and Florida State University

For PTE Preparation Course, i relied on the official online practice materials to fasten my preparations. This sample questions not only familiarized me with exams but also were less stressful compared to other exams where free prep material was not available. Any savings which will not impact the final outcome is a blessing on disguise when running on a tight budget

My seniors recommended me to have as complete as many tests as i can do , since proficiency in multiple English test which are accepted across the world will only increase the trust global universities, colleges and governments have on my candidature (since the competition was high and the Asian pool was very competitive)

I also pursued a German language course to learn basic language skills to prepare myself for day-to-day interactions in the supermarket, peers, immigration office, travel etc. Generally, the international office at universities abroad are the first point of contact as they primarily help in finding accommodation, residence permit, and other requirements. But it is always advisable to find other students who are currently studying or working in the area.

Image Credit : MS Word 2010 Clip Art

A genuine interest to study abroad is the utmost and an important factor that needs to arise from the individual. The individual needs to confirm, his/her area of study that includes the subject, country, colleges etc. The best could be to draw a plan and google basic information. The university websites generally host all the course related information and various application requirements on their website. The individual is expected to make a thorough study by reading their website and then followed by the potential interaction with the graduate student office/faculty for any specific queries or discuss projects. The student is also expected to write a basic research proposal in line with departmental research interests and strengths.

While preparing your applications, personalize your cover letters to address the specific requirements of the course of study or job. Ironically as a post-doc, I served as one of the coordinator for the same master program in neuroscience that I took after moving to Germany. It is essential to personalize your cover letter. Universities which are accepting international students receive a lot of applications all over the world. It is difficult for the committee members to judge and rate the applicants based on their grades because the scoring system varies from country to country. Thus your cover letter is very essential. It should emphasize your strengths relevant to the course. You would need academic transcripts from the registrar office which gives details of the grades and the scoring system.

One could also check for funding options available for the universities through organizations such as DAAD (Germany), British council (UK), Alliance Francaise (France) or by sending queries to international office of respective universities. The international offices can generally guide students about the monthly expenses required, visa categories etc or the information is available on their website. Last but not the least food could be a hurdle if you are a fussy eater.

Image Credit : MS Word 2010 Clip Art

Having learnt all those experience as a student, today I have become a confident global citizen who does not hesitate from travel. With the world becoming so small due to digital connection, the challenges today are verifying the authencity of information.  Anyways if you need help, do leave a comment. will be happy to answer any questions.

If you are looking for more details on #DefinitelyPTE , then below are helpful materials   

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