Following a degree in German and Russian at The University of Manchester, Rob Compton studied a Postgraduate Programme in European Studies in Berlin.
After my degree I did work experience as a journalist at the European Parliament in Strasbourg and became convinced that the EU was an area I wanted to work in and that I wanted to stay abroad. A PG degree in European Studies seemed a logical extension of my education in Manchester.
Reading up on the different courses was the first thing I did. I found a course in Berlin offered by the Free, Humbolt and Technical Universities in partnership. It looked great so I organised a visit to the buildings and a meeting with the head professor. I sent off my application, was shortlisted and invited to a group interview (in German) and then accepted onto the course.
It is great to be a student again! After a year's break it is fantastic to be surrounded by people who are interested in the same things and to be challenged intellectually. The course is so rich compared to a lot of the offerings in the UK and this partly comes down to the way the course is funded. We have excursions to Brussels, Luxembourg, Weimar and Moscow, we have lecturers who work at the EU and visiting lecturers from universities from all over the world. The Prime Minister of Luxembourg was the main speaker at our opening ceremony and gave a question and answer session.
We are constantly invited to attend meetings, ceremonies and lectures with prominent people and politicians and one of our modules is held at the leading German political think-tank the Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik. There are few courses anywhere that come close to offering this.
Berlin is one of the most dynamic and exciting cities in Europe. Whilst offering all the advantages of living in a capital city, Berlin remains affordable and is not over-crowded. The place is saturated with history and culture and I love using a foreign language. The people here are super-easy to get along with and the Berlin nightlife is legendary. I can quite see myself getting 'stuck' here!
I would advise others considering study overseas to make sure you know what you are letting yourself in for. Research your course thoroughly and the city it is in. Moving abroad is not a simple process and can at times be stressful, emotional and frustrating. However, if you have the heart for it and find the right course in the right city, it can offer the most rewarding and richest experiences.
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