As I approach the halfway mark of this crazy, English-teaching journey, I am, of course, thinking about what the next adventure is going to be. While I’ve struggled to come up with an answer to this question, pondering it for the last few weeks has told me one thing: I want to keep learning.
Grad school was always something I wanted to accomplish in my life but after horror stories of the offensively large pile of debt that accompanies this higher education, I wasn’t so keen. As you might’ve read in my miserable post, Looking Forward to the Apocalypse, I already have more than enough debt for the next 20 years, at least.
Luckily, there are ways around this. The best possible solution, really – combining my love for travel with the desire to keep learning: getting my Master’s abroad! While obtaining your Master’s in the US is around 30-fricken-thousand a year (or something, I don’t know exact numbers, other than that it’s a ridiculous amount), people are attending universities in Europe anywhere from $3,000 – $0 a year. Yes, you read correctly. F-R-E-E, free. Freeeeeeeeeeee. Are you kidding me?!
This article will give you an idea of the prices of grad schools abroad. And we’re talking top universities with hundreds of different programs in English. If I had the money (or saved enough money, rather), I’d be applying to Lund University in Sweden to get my Master’s in Global Studies. Fo’ FREE. Mind-blowing, right?
Lund University Library (Source: Fotocommunity)
Anyway, my Master’s will have to wait a year or so while I save up some money to pay off the previous higher education I indulged in. So I found the next best thing for now to quench my thirst for learning (well, the boyfriend found it, anyway): Coursera.org.
Coursera gives me hope in mankind. And it’s exactly what I’ve always wanted: to be able to learn without having that much responsibility and accountability. Yes, I’m lazy – don’t judge me.
I’m the kind of person that decides to take obscure elective classes in college because they sound “super interesting” but then immediately regret all the extra work I have that doesn’t even apply to my major. History of the Holocaust, Ballet, Natural Disasters, Philosophy and the Meaning of Life, random Political Science classes and a plethora of outdoor water classes like Surfing, Sailing and Sea Kayaking (yes, my school offers surfing classes. SDSU is awesome.) Unfortunately, these classes don’t necessarily apply to Hospitality Management.
Anyway, these were classes that I wanted to take just for fun. Yes, I wanted to learn about it and I was truly interested in each of these subjects, but once they became mandatory and once my GPA depended on it, they became more of a burden than anything.
So now that I’m all “grown up” and graduated, I want to keep learning. But with a full time job and the fact that I live in Korea, this didn’t seem possible. Until my brilliant boyfriend told me about Coursera.
It’s a website that offers hundreds of different classes – all for FREE. There are video lectures, quizzes, homework assignments, projects and everything else normal classes have (even an iPhone app so you can watch lectures on your phone). The work is optional (although encouraged) so people are allowed to just watch the lectures if they wish and not do any of the work (but let’s be real – if you don’t do the work, you probably won’t end up completing the course).
The fact that these classes are being offered online for free, just gives me hope in mankind. While tuition and student loan interest rises every year, professors from universities like Oxford, Stanford and NYU are offering various courses on Coursera for FREE. It’s amazing that a site like this exists – for those who don’t have the means to attend university. For those who have a family or a time-consuming job but still want to continue their education. It’s a beautiful concept and I felt it necessary to spread the word.
I enrolled in 2 classes that started a few weeks ago: The Social Context of Mental Health and Illness and Nutrition for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention (I’m already that obnoxious person insistently bringing up random nutritional facts and mental health statistics in almost every conversation). Next January I’ll be able to say I’m taking Constitutional Law at Yale (or rather, by a Yale professor). But how friggin awesome is that?
(For those people who do want something by passing a class, you can pay a certain amount of money (maybe around $30-$40?) for a certificate stating that you passed.)
Anyway, if you’ve already graduated and are trying to think of what to do next, I encourage you to try out Coursera. There are absolutely no fees at all to sign up, cancel, drop out of classes or anything. There will always be so much more to learn and it’s a great place to start. Maybe it’ll help you figure out what kind of job you really want. Maybe it’ll encourage you to go to Grad School. Maybe it’ll just be a tool for you to keep learning, which I firmly believe is something we should always continue.
More evidence that the best things in life are FREE :).