Somewhere along the chaos of applying to UK universities I started thinking about what may happen if I were not to gain a place. With competition so high in the UK this was a real possibility and I would be left with the decision of waiting another year (two have been painful enough) and re-applying or deciding to do something else entirely (which is not really an option for me.)
So I had a browse online at English taught veterinary medicine courses outside of the UK. Up until this point I had not considered studying abroad and was generally looking just out of interest and not with any intentions of actually applying. First of all, the information available on websites for EU universities is pretty sparse which doesn’t fill you with hope. Luckily, there are loads of enthusiastic UK students, already enrolled in these courses that have written lengthy blogs on the entire experience.
The two that caught my attention were based in Kosice (Slovakia) and Budapest (Hungary). After some more thorough research and a scroll through some reviews and forums it seemed that Kosice was the winning choice. With a 4 year graduate program, low living costs and onsite animal hospital it seemed like the obvious choice…
So I booked my flights to Kosice (that cost £20.99?!) and went of to explore my potential new home with my dubious boyfriend in tow. There were several factors that I felt I should take into account before arriving – It was mid January so naturally everything would look grey, (not helped by the fact we arrived at 2am, and I had just returned from visiting London which could not be more different. We left our Air Bnb in the morning and decided to walk to the Open Morning in order to take in as much as possible en route.
First impressions of the general area – it’s quiet, a little run down but very clean.
Arriving at the university was a little off-putting as it took us about 15 minutes to find someone that spoke English that could show us to where we were supposed to be. The lack of English signage also made things a bit tricky but I suppose once you’ve done a week of lectures, you’ll have worked out where things are. We were met by one of the admissions staff and shown round a couple of lecture rooms, the stables and the new small animal clinic. I think it is fair to say that while the exterior of the buildings is pretty underwhelming, the facilities and clinic technology is of a very high standard.
From what the lecturers said, it seemed as though students were offered a lot of hands on experience in the clinic and involved with a large amount of lab analysis. The main downside for me with this uni was the dorms – where the underwhelming exterior unfortunately did not improve as you moved inside. The hallways are damp and in dire need of a paint job. The only saving grace is that you are permitted to decorate your own room. The positive thing about Kosice in general is the amount of undergoing renovation. It will be exciting to see if things have improved in the dorms by September.
We spent the rest of our day walking round the town, exploring shops and eating out at as many places as possible.
The next day we jumped on a bus to Budapest for a mere £10.
As a capital city, it was obviously a lot bigger and more impressive than Kosice. We had a brilliant time exploring the city, despite the cold and a combination of snow and sleet. The bars are fascinating and so quirky, everyone speaks good English and there are unlimited places to eat out or shop.
While living in Budapest would be amazing, the reviews of the university were not and there seemed to be some issues regarding large class sizes and high failure rate. However, I love that it would be feasible to meet friends here for the odd weekend.
Moving and studying abroad is obviously not a life that would suit everyone and is a big decision that is not without sacrifices. However – I feel like it might be the right path for me and I am drawn in by the alternative opportunities and situations that I might encounter there. The highlight of Non UK universities is that the application process takes about 15 minutes and can be in addition to your 4 choices on UCAS. They simply require your degree transcript, CV and school leaving certificate. Job done.
Benefits of EU universities:
- More/earlier opportunities for practical/clinical work
- Experience of living abroad/different culture
- Diverse peers
- SO. MUCH. CHEAPER.
- Allocated apartment for the full course length
- Variety of placement locations
- Less EMS (longer holidays)
- Simple application
Benefits of UK universities:
- Some of the top universities in the World
- Research active lecturers
- Experience of living in London
- English speaking country
- Easier to nip home for a day
- Financial help – means tested maintenance loan + career development loan
- High quality facilities
- Excellent worldwide connections