Madli: challenging and motivating 1-year master degree from England

Hi! My name is Madli and I’m currently studying in England in University of Bedfordshire where I’m doing my master’s degree on International Social Work and Social Development. I had wanted to study abroad already for a long time, but due to financial difficulties I wasn’t able to do that during my bachelor studies. When it was time to choose a masters course, I didn’t have to think for long whether to do it abroad or not. During my social work bachelor studies in University of Tartu I became increasingly interested in the international side of social work (e.g. work with migrants, refugees, trafficking victims) and since there weren’t any opportunities to study international social work in Estonia I started to look for programmes outside of the country. In the end I found a few courses on the subject around Europe and chose the one in the University of Bedfordshire.

I remember that even though in the application process a lot of documents were required, the process went relatively smoothly and already couple of weeks after sending my application to the university I received a positive response from them. Finding accommodation and applying for student loan in UK was unfortunately much trickier. Since it’s difficult to find private accommodation in England without being on the spot then I chose the more expensive university accommodation. However, if you’re applying for university accommodation then I recommend you to talk things through with your university first to decide the length of the rental agreement and thereby save some money. I had to choose between one shorter and another bit longer rental agreement and decided to go with the longer one because of the length of my master’s programme. In the end I found out that I could’ve also taken the shorter one since the summer semester is mostly a self-directed study period. When doing a master’s degree in UK then the master’s loan is also very helpful as it covers the tuition fees and, in my case, also most of my living costs. However, I advise you to be patient and pay attention to every detail in your student loan application form, since if there’s even a small mistake then the otherwise already lengthy and bureaucratic process could take twice the time.

Doing a one-year long master’s degree means that until now my whole university experience has been extremely busy and intense. There’s a lot of individual work and reading, less groupwork and already in the beginning of our studies at Bedfordshire lecturers advised us to start thinking about the topic of our dissertation which we should complete by the end of the year. Usually there’s also a possibility to choose a part time masters course which then takes 2 years to complete. The distinctive feature of the one-year master’s course is that there are 3 semesters within that year: additionally, to the autumn and spring semester there’s a summer semester, when most of the dissertation writing takes place. When coming from an Estonian university the amount of individual work seemed a bit daunting at first, but one gets used to it quite fast and with the support of understanding course mates it won’t be difficult to pass the units.

The University of Bedfordshire is quite young and still looking for its place on the field of higher education. However, it feels that because of that the University has courage to experiment and try out different things and there’re a lot of interesting events and initiatives happening within the university. Luton where the university is located is mostly known for its airport where one can find cheap flights to many places around the world. The city itself is small and the environment rather uneventful, but the events at the university and the close proximity of London (just 40-minute train ride away) provide some balance to the peaceful life in the small city. Additionally, the airport just next to the city offers an easy opportunity to explore other parts of UK as well as different parts of Europe.

Finally, I’d like to add some tips on how to make the most out of your university experience abroad:

  • Use the opportunity to attend events that are held within and outside of the university. These are great opportunities to meet fellow students, experts within your field of interest and future employers.
  • Use the resources that the university offers. My university is very focused on enhancing the employability of their students. They offer different courses connected to employability (I took part of the Arabic and networking course), services of a career counsellor, opportunities to meet employers etc.
  • Travel and explore the local culture, but also use the opportunity to discover some other countries nearby to further widen your horizons.

Studying abroad is definitely challenging but it also develops, inspires one tremendously and fills you with enthusiasm and energy to achieve great things in your field of interest. Additionally, after graduation your course mates have become a supportive group of fellow colleagues on whom you can always count on. Studying abroad has widened my horizons and opened doors which I didn’t even know existed. So, if you’re thinking of studying abroad then grab the bull by its horns because there’s nothing to lose.

If you have any additional questions, then you can get my contact from Dream Foundation.

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