1. There’s no reason not to
The economy will wait for you. If you’re at university now or are starting university before 2015, the economy will definitely wait for you. Graduates all over the country are doing masters degrees and PhDs because there’s nothing better to do and the only available jobs are horrible ones. People need those jobs, you don’t need those jobs, you have no-one to support but yourself. This is the only time in your life where you’ll be able to pass up on earning money in order to do something more worthwhile. It’s important to recognise your privilege (and if you can afford to study full time, even with government assistance, you’re pretty privileged, not George Osborne privileged, but better off than a lot of people) but it’s equally important not to squander that privilege and rush headlong into a jobs market that will definitely still be there in a year or two.
2. The opportunity is there
Your university will run schemes where you can study or work abroad. Go and speak to your careers and employability officers, they’re not as useless as they outwardly appear. Read about these schemes, go to presentations about them, ignore the terrified part of you that screams at you not to do it and sign up for one.
3. You’ll regret not doing it
Living in another country is on all of the ‘Things to do before you’re 25/30/40/50/dead’ lists, because the boring, unimaginative people who write those lists haven’t done it and wish they had. It’s a cliché that you regret the things you don’t do rather than the things you do, but it’s also true.
4. It will expand your horizon
Living in another country isn’t worthwhile because you’ll be living some ridiculous Eat, Pray, Love fantasy, and not just because you’re not some over-privileged white woman gawping at the natives. Living abroad isn’t important because of the differences you notice, but because of the similarities. Because the sooner you realise that everywhere, from Bordeaux to Shanghai, is pretty much the same, the sooner you realise you can live anywhere. You’re not confined to your city, or to the UK, or even to Europe; you can find a job anywhere in the world because young, highly educated people are only a step down from billionaires and Saudi royalty on the immigration wish-list.
5. It will look great on your CV
You need to start worrying about filling out your CV. This was true in the halcyon days before the 2008 crash when people were actually paid for graduate jobs rather than being forced into grovelling for expenses-only internships with exploitative assholes. Working abroad or studying abroad looks great on your CV because most likely your interviewer will wish they’d done it but never had the courage, and also because you can lie about everything in the preceding paragraph. In interviews foreign countries are all strange and exotic places where, if it weren’t for your excellent interpersonal skills and team-working ability, you would have been eaten by elephants.
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