I have always been a go getter. When I was a teenager in high school, the opportunity came to be a summer student in Mexico. I along with a few members of the Spanish club at my high school raised the money by washing cars and holding bake sales. Our parents also pitched in to help and off we went. The next year I went to Germany by myself as an exchange student. It was not easy as my parents had to make some sacrifices for me to board that plane. Sadly, I was only one of five black students out of the entire state of Indiana going abroad. Two of us went to Germany, two to Japan and one to Sweden. Fast forward a couple of decades. Times have changed but also remained the same. Although you can find numerous black Americans willing to travel the world and study abroad, I still encounter many who could never imagine themselves outside of their respective cities, let along the country.
I discovered a few of them think that because there are few blacks in some of these places that, they would not be comfortable going. Well, there are numerous places in the US where we could say the same thing. I don’t understand this fear and inhibition but I do rejoice in those who have gone out and claimed their piece of the globe. I would advise anyone not to let the fear of racism keep them from taking advantage of an opportunity that could be once in a lifetime. I have “been the only one” or one of a few black people in a class, work or even church countless times. Depending upon the situation, I have try to use those opportunities to educate folks.
Racism is everywhere and not going away anytime soon. Life goes on. Just think if the phenomenal woman Gloria Ray Karlmark, one of the “Little Rock Nine” let her circumstances limit her potential. She may have never become a chemist, she may never have met and married a Swedish man nor be in a position to head Fortune 500 companies in Sweden, Belgium or Holland. Gloria Karlmark may not have become the award winning and innovative power house she turned out to be had she not taken some risks and stepped out on faith. Just check out Gloria Ray Karlmark on Swedish television talking about then candidate Obama and the possibility of him becoming the first US black president (2008).
Sweden is also home to another super achieving, black American woman. She is Black Women in Europe Network founder Adrianne George Lind. Adrianne is from Washington DC and was exposed to the international world as a youngster. She had close family members who lived and worked overseas and that led to her being bitten by the travel adventure bug. Adrianne used education as her ticket to cross the Atlantic and has since travled the globe. She obtained a Master’s degree in Marketing and PR in Belgium where she met her Swedish husband. Married to the love of her life, Adrianne is now living in Sweden. If she had any hesitancy about going overseas, Adrianne would never have left the states. She is another prime example of what we can accomplish given opportunity coupled with desire and passion. So seek out educational opportunities and go for it.
Adrianne has become an International power broker who has built two networks the other being co-founder of Women of the African Diaspora. She is also co-founder and editor of Black ExPat Magazine. Adrianne also runs the BWIE Blog and hosts two BWIE subgroups in Facebook (one for women exclusively living, studying or working abroad, and one for those abroad and women in the US). In 2010, Adrianne was inspired by Forbes Magazine World’s 100 Most Powerful Women List. She went right into action creating and publishing the first (and two subsequent) Most Powerful Black Women in Europe List 2010. My dear friend gets a heartfelt thanks from me for creating the networks where I met so many wonderful people I otherwise may never have known. (2011 list – 2012 list)
Thanks to Adrianne, I was inspired to compile a list of programs and schools. As an information broker, I had received some requests for information about studying abroad — specifically Europe. Most universities in Finland, Norway, Sweden, Germany and many other EU countries are tuition FREE even for foreigners. At least they used to be more than there are now. So many non EU students were taking advantage of those opportunities so some countries have started charging. Many remain free, so those who are interested will have to be diligent and research well. As always beware of scams and know that you will still have to demonstrate financial stability. Some may wonder why bother if you still have to sustain yourself financially. Well, you would have to sustain yourself financially at home anyway, so why not experience life abroad even if for one semester? Where there is a will there is a way. What better reason to live abroad is there other than to pursue education? Ok, besides love, a killer job, extended vacation and maybe medical treatment? Obtaining a quality degree makes school rank pretty high up on the list.
These degrees are offered in English. You can get your degree and not have to worry about learning the language of the host country for some programs. A few countries require proof that you are learning their language. Of course it would be best if you did learn the language, but for those that don’t it is one less stress while you are completing your education. Two years ago, my friend Gavaza got a Masters in International Peace Studies in Finland in English and it was free. She had to pay some room and board, but tuition was entirely free for her two year program. And she was paid for her internship. Most can get part time jobs to help defray expenses. I say if at all possible, we should take advantage of these opportunities. The language skills alone should one become fluent gives you a additional skill that may prove useful upon returning to the States. Even for those of us with professional degrees and who are already working could consider time abroad for study. This is easier for single people who don’t have families and homes, but on the other hand people are taking their spouses and families abroad all the time.
I met a sister on the BWE Social Network (a Tuskegee Veterinary School graduate) named Priscilla Bowen, DVM, Ph.D. Her husband who is also a veterinarian, was offered an opportunity to receive specialized training in animal neurosurgery in Switzerland. Dr. Bowen was not about to twiddle her thumbs while her husband was in training all day. She wasted no time researching and found her own educational opportunity. Dr. Bowen found, enrolled in and completed a Ph.d. program at the University of Zurich Veterinary School. I asked Dr. Bowen if she would mentor a young black high school student who wanted to be a veterinarian. Dr. Bowen was more than eager to mentor and graciously asked me to pass on her contact information to the young lady. That is what it is all about. It didn’t matter that we had never met, she was willing to reach out to young black women in any school pursuing their dream of becoming a veterinarian.
You can find almost any program in Europe including veterinarian medicine as we just learned. Some schools in the smaller EU countries also seek international students as they all boast of wonderful educational opportunities. You could go to medical school in Romania or Hungary. You could get an Engineering degree in Norway, or study physics in Germany. It doesn’t hurt to just check things out. This also goes for spouses of those in Embassy jobs or with the US State Department or as we saw with Dr. Bowen someone in school. Putting your mind to anything, you can make it work. There is more research to do as I have barely scratched the surface. Those of you whose curiosities have been piqued have your homework cut out for you. Just know that some of these institutions have the been around for centuries and offer an education equal to or even surpass US educational standards.
With passport in hand, have your necessary paperwork ready for visa applications, apply and wait for your acceptance letters. Asia offers some opportunities too. Regina Walton went to Korea specifically for school and started a blog as “Expat Jane“. She completed a Master’s degree in International Studies at Ewha Women’s University. Regina was able to learn Korean and even wrote a column for the Korean Herald. Regina told me that it was a fluke that she just happened to see an advertisement for the program and applied. She did not speak Korean at all, but because the program was offered in English, she went for it. Regina graduated from UCLA law school before going to Korea but she now writes for a living in Northern California.
Sweden has over 600 programs in English. One of my friends was accepted to an online Master’s program in Digital Library and Information Services at the University of Boras Swedish School of Library and Information Science in Boras, Sweden. She was one of 40 applicants admitted out of 400!! Her prayers were answered as she wanted an opportunity to go back to school and travel. The best part was that it is FREE!! As my friend stated, “It is a well-kept secret about free education in Europe, but we don’t know for how long.” So, get moving if that is what you want to do. You can’t beat studies for free online or on campus. But realistically you have to do your homework and again have the means to support yourself. Seek out internships, jobs, host families even affiliated churches may help with housing. We have a young lady from France visiting Los Angeles for a 3 month drama class she found online. The young lady contacted the church I attend and told us of her intentions and needs. One of our members gladly hosted her while she is here. That is out of the box thinking that saved her a fortune in housing. It worked out great!
Here are some links to consider and remember this is just a small sampling of what is out there. Even if the school is not free, they may have scholarships or grants. Just ask someone at the school of your interest. If you know of programs, please list them in the comments. Again, good luck to all takers!
Bonus: Find Bachelor’s Studies in Europe has an extensive list of all colleges in EU. Once you put in your search options, you can list the results by tuition. There are several pages of tuition free institutions listed. This site has also has information on Master and Ph.D. programs. (Thanks Ashley!)
If you can’t find a suitable free program, you may be able to get financial aid to attend some overseas schools. FAFSA International Universities is a directory of institutions worldwide where U.S. students can use their financial aid for short term study abroad or even to get an undergraduate or master’s degree! This link is to their Facebook page as I can’t seem to find the actual directory. But if interested you could contact them via email on Facebook. (Thanks Sherise!)
The actual FAFSA website may prove useful too as you would need the school codes anyway.
This is general information from an India site about education in Europe, US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. You will have to look through to find what you need, but the effort is probably well worth it.
Here is a listing of European Union universities with graduate programs.
These schools are highly competitive and very reputable, so study will require dedication and hard work if you are accepted.
Check out the accreditation of the various schools
Listing of universities
Linköping University is fully accredited and reputable in Sweden. LIU is offering tuition free doctorate degrees in English. If you could find an online program, it would be ideal.
A listing of all the Swedish Universities offering Master level degrees in English. Most are tuition free.
A Wikipedia listing as well
This is a great site that leads to other international graduate information
Iceland University of Iceland. Icelandic schools don’t have tuition but registration fees. They also have a nice student loan program.
Listing of state and private Icelandic Universities
Hasselt is a Belgian University that charges, but may have some reduced tuition. You have to call and talk to people or at least email. You never know what kind of opportunities you may get just by asking questions.
Estonia Study in Estonia (may have scholarships) 100 or more programs in English and they have EU status.
Germany (Higher education is free for everyone)
More great info from Germany
Croatia (not free but they do have scholarships)
Slovenia (not free)
France general info and does not appear to be free
Switzerland (not free)
Listing of Australian Schools or universities with graduate programs (Not Free)
Listing of UK schools or universities with graduate programs (Not Free)
Listing of New Zealand schools or universities with graduate programs (Not Free)