Why I chose to study in the UK

Nov 16, 2017 10:44:34 PM

Since high school, I wanted to move to Vancouver. That was my end-goal. I planned to finish my Bachelor’s degree in Toronto and then move across the country to B.C. for my Master’s. For years, I told everyone that I was moving to Vancouver after I graduated. I wanted to study at UBC or Simon Fraser, ski in the Rockies, hike, and visit hip vegetarian restaurants. My plan was set in stone, or so I thought.


My journey to the UK

Fast-forward to October 2015. The idea of studying abroad entered my radar when I developed an interest in the University of Toronto’s summer abroad program. I ended up studying in Oxford during August 2016 after my successful application to the program. Throughout the month, I spared no expense travelling to as many destinations as possible. Unsurprisingly, I fell in love with the UK. I arrived home with a new perspective on my future. Grad school applications began shortly after, in which I applied to Simon Fraser University in Vancouver and four universities across England, Scotland, and Wales.


Like many students, I struggled at the start of my application process. Where do I begin looking for suitable MA programs in the UK? Which universities will offer me the best education for my field? Which region do I want to live in? I did my own research, but I was in over my head. Across the Pond was enormously helpful in this regard. My advisor asked for information on my current program and matched me with a list of universities related to my academic interests. From there, I narrowed my search down to four options and began my applications. 


My acceptance letters led to a conflicted decision-making process. Do I abandon my Vancouver dream, or stick to the plan? Full disclosure: travelling was (and still is) one of my main motivators for studying a Master’s degree. I knew that I wanted to study away from home, whether I chose Vancouver or the UK. Vancouver always seemed like a far-off destination in comparison to my small hometown outside of Toronto. But studying in Oxford shrunk those borders. Despite the distance, Vancouver is still close to home. If I wanted to travel, I should do it properly. Right?


How to choose?

I find it helpful to measure my options when I have a big decision to make. I’m a visual learner, which means I like to see all the facts in front of me (I’m a huge nerd for lists). Whether you’re like me or not, you can’t go wrong with this tactic. Here’s an idea of what my pros and cons lists looked like while choosing between Simon Fraser and the University of Aberdeen (my top choice in the UK).











·         High-ranking program

·         Reputable program staff would lead to connections in my field

·         Beautiful scenery

·         Warm winters

·         Plenty of vegetarian restaurants


·         Vancouver and Toronto share similarities in culture and appearance – no big changes

·         Will not fulfill my desire to travel

·         Very expensive to travel between Toronto and Vancouver



Aberdeen Uni



·         Rare opportunity to live abroad for a year

·         International studies will make me more employable

·         Ability to travel through Europe with ease

·         New friends and new connections in different parts of the world

·         Independence

·         Beautiful scenery

·         Unable to visit family and friends on a whim

·         Leaving behind Sherman, my pet rabbit

·         Vegetarian options are not as extensive as Canada


Remember to value quality over quantity in a pros and cons list. You may have a long list of cons, but their importance might be superficial in comparison to your pros – and vice versa. For instance, I have more pros than cons listed for SFU. But can I really compare the value of warm winters to fulfilling my desire to travel?


Moral of the story: plans change. You might believe that your future is set in stone, but nothing is definitive. Moving to the UK might not be something you always considered, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t the right option for you. If you would like to learn more about studying in the UK, feel free to contact one of our advisors.