How to Study Full-Time in Europe

By Shannon O’Brien

how to study full time in Europe


“There is no more fulfilling experience than studying outside of your home country. A ‘serial study-abroader’ myself, I would recommend the experience to Study Full-time in Europe to pretty much anyone, old or young. Whether it be a 2-week summer course or a whole year in a foreign school, studying abroad is not an experience to skip out on.

If you are looking for something a bit more permanent, however, then perhaps you should apply for a complete higher education abroad.

It is not impossible. Actually, if you are like me and come from the USA, you may find the entire experience to be more affordable, more practical, and more conducive to study-work-life balance. After a year of high school abroad in Spain, I made the decision to pursue a Bachelor’s Degree in the Netherlands, which lead me to later decide to pursue a Master’s Degree in Italy. At the end of it all, I will hold 2 degrees from excellent programs, have zero student debt, and have learned 3 new languages. In this article, I explain the steps to get the ball rolling with your decision to study in Europe as a foreigner. I promise, it’s all too easy.”


Applying to Study Full-time in Europe

“This is universal. You cannot study at any college or university anywhere in the world without applying. As per most educational institutions, the directions of how to apply can typically be found on the website, and if you really cannot figure out some of the guidelines, give them a call.

Remember that to Study Full-time in Europe, as per most places, the application process is designed for the admissions officers to determine if your grades or experiences would qualify you for acceptance. As opposed to the standard American college admissions process, there is a strong importance also put on motivation of the applicant.

The admissions officers want to know why you want to follow this program, where your interest stems from, and what is intrinsically motivating you to want to study there. They may require you to write a Motivation Letter, which is a formal letter addressed to the admissions office in which you outline your motivation.

Sure, you worked in high school as a part-time waiter at a local restaurant, but how does that translate to you wanting to study Business Management?
This is what they want to know.

If an interview is required, similar questions may be asked. They want to see if you are truly interested in this study, or if you are only applying out of necessity or pressure from your parents. It is generally looked down upon in Europe to accept students that are not truly interested in or motivated by the study.”


study full-time in Europe

Visa Process

“Only once you have been accepted to Study Full-time in Europe can you begin the student visa application process. Do not worry; typically, once you have been accepted to study in Europe, the visa will be granted to you without issue. It is not an option to skip this step. Your student visa is your key into Europe, and your university will most likely not let you begin classes if they do not have proof that you have obtained it.

Depending on where you are from, the application process may vary. More often than not, you must apply in person at an embassy or consulate of the country you are going to study in, in your country/state of residence. For example, as a legal resident of Massachusetts, I could only obtain my current student visa from the Italian Consulate of Boston.

Regardless of what the consulate website tells you to bring to your appointment – usually passport copies, acceptance letters, proof of health insurance – bring triple the amount of copies they recommend, in color and in black and white. Prepare in advance for this appointment. For instance, if you need to purchase a health insurance policy that covers you in Europe, that must be done in advance before the consulate officials ask for proof of it at your meeting. You may need to be present with a parent or guardian, if you are under the age of 18. You may need to show bank statements of your own, or of whoever is sponsoring your study payments, which will therefore need to be printed before your meeting. Do your research to see what you need, and prepare in advance so all you have to do at your appointment is hand in the forms, and wait for them to call you back to pick up your visa.”


getting visa to study in Europe


Moving to Europe

“Accepted to school to Study Full-time in Europe? Visa in hand? Amazing! Now you can move to Europe and let your study experience begin.

There is no ‘best way’ to do this, depending on where you come from, where in Europe you are going, and when you are starting school. But the best tip I would give to anyone is to bring as little with you as possible, keeping in mind that almost anything you may need – be it school supplies, beauty products, home goods, a new toothbrush, etc. – can be found most everywhere in Europe. Do your research by reading expat blogs about the quirks of the country you are moving to, to better understand what products you may or may not be able to find over there. For example, I struggle to find stick deodorant in Italy, so I always bring a stick or two back with me when I visit the US.

The entirety of the process is less daunting than you may imagine. And despite visa and transportation costs, you will most likely end up spending a fraction on your European education than you would in the USA. Don’t rule out the option of studying in Europe because you think it would be too complicated! At the end of your experience, you will be grateful you took the time to drive into the city to apply for that visa while you were still home.”

Written by Shannon O’Brien:

Shannon O’BrienShannon O’Brien is an American expat whose career in Europe began with a study abroad experience in Spain in 2013. She is active in the student expat community in Italy and Spain, and works as European Coordinator for Abbey Road Programs, assisting other students in pursuing international educations. 



Share on Social Media

Contact us if you'd like to be added on our blog.

Questions about getting started?

Study and Travel Abroad!

Expert Advice

Academic Support

Award Winning Schools