Blog Archive

Taking a Gap Year During COVID-19? 5 Things You Need to Know

Taking a year off before starting university or college has become a tradition for a lot of students worldwide. 

The activities students choose to do during their gap year aim to deepen their practical and personal experiences before going through a new stage in life. According to the Gap Year Association (GYA), “No two gap years are alike,” so each learning experience is unique to every individual. Some students choose to take on a job, some choose to volunteer, while others travel. 

Taking a gap year has in many ways affected students positively. In fact, those who have taken a gap year reported it helped them increase their maturity, build their self-confidence, and increase academic motivation.

The COVID-19 pandemic has also affected everyone worldwide. Also, many operations, from businesses to organizations, have either temporarily stopped or have already said their goodbyes. 

Even school openings had been postponed many times in different parts of the world. Many education institutions, as soon as they are able to continue with their operations, have chosen to conduct classes online to help curb the spread of the virus. 

With those changes and restrictions around, it is not surprising that the number of students taking on a gap year has dramatically increased. 

One study in the UK found out that many university students have changed their minds about continuing their studies and are planning to take gap years instead. In August 2020, Harvard reported a huge increase in the number of students deferring their enrollment to take a gap year. 

If you are one of the many students thinking of taking a gap year during the pandemic, here are five things that you should know: 

Blog - Taking a Gap year

Countries Have Implemented Their Own COVID-19 Rules and Travel Restrictions

Traveling to another country has always been popular among students taking a gap year. 

However, because of the pandemic, traveling to another country has now become more difficult. Many governments have decided to implement their own rules and travel restrictions to control the transmission of the virus in their own countries. 

If you’re thinking of traveling to another part of the world during your gap year, know that there will be limited choices for it. 

Blog - Taking a Gap year 1

Some Schools Don’t Allow Deferment of Admission

Some universities and colleges encourage students to take a gap year before continuing to higher education. However, there are also others that don’t allow it. 

Before continuing, you should first check out your chosen school’s gap year or deferral policies to avoid future complications in your admission. Some schools require students to submit a plan summarizing what they will do during their gap year before granting them permission to take the time off. 

According to the University of South Florida, in case your school of choice won’t allow you to take a gap year, there are two options for you: Reapply the year after, or get admitted to another school that allows deferrals.

There Are Many Creative Ways to Optimize Your Gap Year

The COVID-19 pandemic has limited students’ options during their gap year like traveling and getting an internship. However, it does not mean there are no other ways to make your gap year productive. 

For example, you can take on a passion project you have delayed doing because you were too busy in the past. Another thing you can do is learn a valuable skill, like programming or another language. You can even take on remote internship programs. 

The GYA also offers various gap year programs with partner organizations that students can join amid the pandemic. Students can do the programs online and/or in person.

Your Gap Year Activities Should Define Your Purpose

Don’t just take a gap year without any plan or purpose, lest you waste it without learning or accomplishing anything. Ensure you identify your goals when choosing your activities and experiences during your gap year.

Whatever it is you are planning to do, make sure it’s aligned with your abilities, passions and interests, says Alyssa Polakowski, college and alumni relations manager at the Laurel Springs School in the United States. She adds that students should use their gap year experiences to further enhance skills on their résumé or confirm whether they’re on the right path in their chosen career.

A lack of planning and purpose may result in lost opportunities in the future, so make sure you identify a clear set of goals and choose your activities wisely.

There’s No Right or Wrong Way of Doing Your Gap Year

Finally, students should know that there is no set method of doing a gap year. People have different aspirations and goals; surely there are many ways of getting there. 

Goals and purposes will only act as your guide so you won’t lose your way doing random activities. At the end of the day, how you want to use your time in achieving those goals is up to you. 

Ethan Knight, the executive director of the GYA, describes the gap year as a recipe that a student can make their own meal out of. It doesn’t have to be a set program, nor does it have to be expensive. 

All in all, if you are taking a gap year during the COVID-19 pandemic, you need to be mindful of what you do and how you do it. And of course, make sure to follow health protocols to keep yourself and others safe. Have fun!

5 Compelling Reasons to Study in Europe

Europe is an ideal training ground for a bright career pathway. In 2018, 1.3 million international students were enrolled in European institutions, indicating that the European continent is one of the world’s most desirable places to study in.

Europe is an ideal training ground for a bright career pathway. In 2018, 1.3 million international students were enrolled in European institutions, indicating that the European continent is one of the world’s most desirable places to study in. 

What makes Europe great as a study destination for international students? Below is a list of five of the many reasons why.

MSM Unify- 5 Reasons to study in EU

Affordable tuition fees

Most public institutions in Europe offer low tuition fees for international students – some even lower than the fees posted by schools in the United States, Australia, and Canada. What’s more, tuition is free in several public universities in European countries, even if you do not have a scholarship or a bank loan. 

If you’re from the European Union (EU) and European Economic Area (EEA), you don’t have to pay for tuition in public universities in France, Austria, Sweden, Poland, Finland, Denmark, Greece, Germany, Norway, Hungary, and Slovenia. 

If you’re from outside the EU/EEA, your tuition is free when you study in Norway and Germany, which got first place in Study.EU’s Country Ranking in 2017 and 2018. Germany is a top choice for students for its unmatched universities plus tuition-free public university system. Even the private institutions in Germany offer degree programs at low fees.

In addition, European governments and education institutions also offer scholarships, study grants, and other forms of financial support to international students. Some of the scholarships for international students are:

  • Swedish Institute Study Scholarships (Sweden)
  • Danish Government Scholarships for Non-EU/EEA Students  (Denmark)
  • Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships for Foreign Students (Switzerland)
  • Eiffel Excellence Scholarship Programme (France)
  • VLIR-UOS Scholarship Awards (Belgium)
  • Italian Government Bursaries for Foreign Students (Italy)
  • Leiden University Excellence Scholarships (Netherlands)
  • Bologna University Study Grants for International Students (Italy)
  • Lund University Global Scholarships for Non-EU/EEA Students (Sweden)
  • Holland Scholarships (Netherlands)
MSM Unify- 5 Reasons to study in EU 1

Top-notch academic institutions

Europe is home to over 500 of the 1,500 universities ranked by the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2021. In the top 50 are following European institutions: ETH Zurich in Switzerland, Karolinska Institutet in Sweden, École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland, KU Leuven in Belgium, Paris Sciences et Lettres – PSL Research University Paris in France, and LMU Munich, Technical University of Munich, and Heidelberg University in Germany.

Europe is also known for its cutting-edge academic research, and with Europe’s cross-border cooperation with other countries, its international academic cooperation remains strong and of a high standard.

MSM Unify- 5 Reasons to study in EU 2

Multitude of study options

There is something for everybody in Europe. With a multitude of higher education institutions providing tens of thousands of different study programs for you to choose from, you can take your pick of courses from a variety of fields.

Here are some interesting degrees you can earn in Europe:

  • Bachelor’s or master’s in Game Design from Uppsala University, Sweden
  • Bachelor’s master’s in Sustainable Innovation from SDS – The Sustainable Design School, France
  • Master’s in Public Art and New Artistic Strategies from the Bauhaus-Universität Weimar, Germany
  • Bachelor’s in Luxury Brand Management, Swiss School of Higher Education, Switzerland
  • Bachelor’s in Arctic Adventure Tourism from the UiT The Arctic University of Norway, Norway
  • Bachelor’s in Natural Resources in Smart Organic Farming from the Häme University of Applied Sciences, Finland
  • Bachelor’s in Medical and Pharmaceutical Biotechnology from the IMC University of Applied Sciences Krems, Austria

Valuable work experience

After graduating or even while studying, international students can choose to work and earn money for their studies and themselves. Many European countries allow international students to work while studying, and stay for a specified period to work after they finish their degree. 

Small and large-scale companies in Europe look for hardworking interns and employees who are eager to learn and are not afraid to go outside of their shell. International students, by venturing into a foreign country to pursue their dreams, show that they fit the bill well. 

Getting an international education in Europe doesn’t only add up to the learning experience but sets up the path towards career success. By choosing to study in Europe, students will not only work toward academic progress, but professional advancement as well. 

MSM Unify- 5 Reasons to study in EU 4

Travel experiences

In your free time as an international student, you can immerse and experience the cultural diversity of Europe by visiting different countries. Thanks to cheap flight fees, short travel times, and train and bus connections, visiting European countries within a limited budget is something that international students may be able to do.

You can get to know the people, eat a variety of local cuisines, and take a stroll around stunning tourist sites in the Schengen Area. You can do so while using the student visa that you can easily obtain if you are a non-European citizen studying within the Schengen Area of 26 European states. It is the best way to enjoy the perks of being an international student.

Studying in Europe is a once-in-a lifetime opportunity that students from other countries shouldn’t miss. Above are just a few reasons among many of why the European continent is the place to be for international students. With Europe’s excellent academic reputation and environment, what more is there to ask for?

Share on facebook
Share on Facebook
Share on twitter
Share on Twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on LinkedIn

5 Reasons Why Students Need an Education Agent

Many students dream of going abroad to study. Perhaps their dream course isn’t offered in their home country, or perhaps they know how the experience of studying in a foreign country can help them in their future career.

Many students dream of going abroad to study. Perhaps their dream course isn’t offered in their home country, or perhaps they know how the experience of studying in a foreign country can help them in their future career. 

International education definitely sounds exciting and challenging, but where does one even start making it happen?

This is where education agents come in.

What are education agents, you ask? They are people that provide application assistance and placement services to students who are interested in studying abroad. They are very helpful in giving advice to students and their families when selecting an institution, study program, and study destination based on a student’s needs and interests.

If you’ve been considering taking up studies abroad and are wondering how you can get there, here are five reasons why you should talk to an education agent.

MSM Unify - Students need an Education Agent

Education agents are experts in the industry

If there’s anyone equipped with knowledge and experience in getting international students accepted into institutions abroad, it’s an education agent. Education agents can provide you with essential information about higher education institutions, degree programs, application requirements, visa application processes, and other things you need to know.  

Education agents also have extensive experience in the education industry and are aware of the common concerns of international students. That said, they know how to address these issues and present you with solutions. Want to know which school in the United Kingdom would be the best choice if you want to take up aeronautical engineering on a budget? Ask an education agent and you’ll find out not only the best options but also the scholarships you may be eligible for.

MSM Unify - Students need an Education Agent 1

Education agents can help students sort through their options

Education agents can provide students with a lot of helpful information about different education institutions. After you discuss your interests, your financial circumstances, and the kind of school you are looking for, they will help you sort through your options to find the right institution and course for you. An experienced education agent understands what a student wants and assists them to find an institution that is perfect for them.

Education agents can assist students with the application process

Education agents can help students complete all the requirements set by an institution and may also deal with the institution directly on your behalf. This means you can actually focus on the rest of your schoolwork and meet the academic requirements set by your chosen school. Agents can help you check which requirements are still needed and make sure your application is complete before it’s submitted. 

Education agents make a student’s life easier because they can really take most of the work out of the application process for you. Not only that, but education agents may also help you apply for a student visa once you are offered a place at a college or university abroad. 

Education agents also offer job and accommodation assistance

Many higher education institutions abroad allow international students to work while studying. An education agent can help you find work that your visa allows and adds to your learning experience. Agents work closely with institutions not only to help international students find suitable employment but also accommodations. Education agents can help you find a dorm, residence hall, apartment, or a shared house that would suit your needs, preferences, and budget.

MSM Unify - Students need an Education Agent 2

Education agents offer free services

In case you missed that, yes, education agents offer their services for free. Students don’t have to pay for the services that education agents provide because the institutions you’re applying to are actually the ones who pay them a commission. However, take note that you will still need to pay application fees, visa fees, and other fees for studying abroad.


Students need all the guidance and advice they can get when making a big decision such as going to a foreign country to study. This is why getting an education agent is a must.

Of course, the decision to get an education agent is completely up to you. An agent’s role is to give you the information you need to decide where to go and to make your application process as smooth and simple as possible. Now, if you value convenience and efficiency in getting into your dream school, then assistance from an education agent is exactly what you need.


Share on facebook
Share on Facebook
Share on twitter
Share on Twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on LinkedIn

Virtual Classes, ‘Vaccine Passport,’ and More: What Does Education Look Like in the Post-Pandemic Era?

Education is one of the sectors that has been gravely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Some schools have shut down as early as January 2020, and travel restrictions around the world have literally grounded students and educators alike.

Education is one of the sectors that has been gravely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Some schools have shut down as early as January 2020, and travel restrictions around the world have literally grounded students and educators alike. 

But with the introduction of vaccines and the quarantine restrictions easing little by little, we are seeing a renewal of the education sector – but it’s far from what we perceive as “normal.”

What we’ve learned so far

The latter half of 2020 may have already given us a glimpse of what lies ahead for the education sector. Despite schools having to close, the pandemic actually taught us some valuable lessons on how we can improve the quality of education amid travel restrictions and quarantines. For one, being “present” in a “classroom” isn’t exactly necessary for students to attend class.

Virtual Classes 1 - MSM Unify Blog

Another lesson we had to accept is that online learning is not as simple as we thought it would be. Creating online learning modules has given many teachers headaches and sleepless nights. It’s possible that some online modules and interactive lessons had been made haphazardly to meet deadlines so that classes could begin as soon as possible.

Similarly, students have experienced difficulties focusing on virtual classes and keeping up with online learning curricula. Many students find it challenging to learn without face-to-face interaction and the physical presence of their peers and professors.

One of the key challenges of online classes is poor internet connectivity, along with other technical issues that may arise while an online class is going on. Not everyone has consistent internet speeds nor the best computers that would meet the demands of online classes. Both students and teachers experience this and it’s detrimental to the education process.

Looking past the pandemic

From what we’ve learned in 2020, we can expect the post-pandemic education sector to greatly improve its online learning capabilities and address its major issues. 

One model that may come out as the face of the post-pandemic education system is the online course. A prime example are MOOCs, or massive open online courses that are free for anyone to enroll in anywhere they are in the world. These online courses have been around for quite some time, but the pandemic has highlighted their importance in the world today.

MOOCs provide an affordable and flexible way to learn new skills, advance careers, and deliver quality educational experiences. This accessibility gives students the opportunity to learn the subjects and skills they want, when and where they want them. After the pandemic, we can expect more similar education models and systems to allow more flexibility and quality learning.

Crossing the borders

Some health experts believe that, even with vaccines being distributed, COVID-19 may not be totally eradicated, at least for the foreseeable future. Still, to contain the virus and stop it from spreading, one of the most effective ways is through the immune system, the body’s natural defense mechanism. 

This is why vaccination has become one of the top priorities of governments around the world, especially in countries where international travel is necessary. This has given rise to the implementation of a “vaccine passport” policy for travelers.

Virtual Classes 2 - MSM Unify Blog

At present, most countries require a mandatory COVID-19 test result for all incoming passengers, taken no more than 72 hours prior to their departure from their country of origin. Airports, train stations, and other travel hubs have also implemented health and safety protocols, including enhanced sanitation measures, to limit the spread of the virus.

Denmark takes this to a whole new level. The country is developing a COVID-19 vaccine passport that would allow foreign travel and for restrictions to be eased. The vaccine passport would show whether a person has been vaccinated for COVID-19 or not. Those who have received their vaccine may be given special travel privileges and allowed to visit conferences, sports events, restaurants, and music festivals. 

If something like Denmark’s vaccine passport would be implemented across the world, this could mean that education providers may also require international applicants to be vaccinated, and show proof thereof as part of the admission process.

However, education institutions would also need to consider an applicant’s circumstances. If there is no vaccine available in a student’s home country, what can the school – or the education sector in general – do to help? This is another challenge to overcome when schools start welcoming students back on campus.

Silver linings

The world is making progress recovering from the pandemic. We may not be able to get “back to normal,” but we’re heading in the right direction in creating a progressive “new normal.” 

Education may have a completely different face after the pandemic, but its purpose would remain the same: to impart knowledge and skills that would help students achieve their goals in life. We’re confident that educational institutions will always find a way to reach and accommodate students, no matter the hurdles that come their way.

Share on facebook
Share on Facebook
Share on twitter
Share on Twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on LinkedIn

5 Likely Changes in US Higher Education in the Time of Biden

Former U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration’s policies have made a lot of changes to higher education during his time.

Former U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration’s policies have made a lot of changes to higher education during his time. During his first days in the Oval Office, President Joe Biden signed various Executive Orders to reverse Trump’s regulations, and some of those changes are related to higher education. 

MSM Unify Blog - US Higher Education in the Time of Biden

It is also worth noting that Biden’s wife, U.S. First Lady Jill Biden, is an educator and has taught in a community college. The first lady’s occupation can be a strong factor for increased support in the education sector, especially in community colleges.

Read on to find out the possible changes in the U.S. higher education system in a Biden administration.

Safer Campuses Due to a Better COVID-19 Response

MSm Unify Blog - Safer Campus / Covid 19

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought in a lot of changes in how higher education institutions and their stakeholders do things. In fact, a lot of interactions, transactions, and school processes have gone online, including international education. 

A lot of the orders Biden signed are meant to bolster the country’s COVID-19 response, something that was more often ignored by his predecessor. 

One of the executive orders Biden signed right after his inauguration is meant to create a unified government response to fight COVID-19. Another executive order he signed aims to ensure there’s a data-driven response to COVID-19 to help in better decision-making. 

The United States currently has the highest number of COVID-19 cases and deaths worldwide. In response, the Biden administration has made itself clear that it wants to control the spread of the virus and protect the citizens from infection. The executive orders he signed are sure to help in increasing the protections in schools through safety protocols and policies. 

Growth in International Student Enrollment

MSM Unify Blog - Growth in Student Enrollment

The number of international students enrolling in the United States went on a decline after Trump took charge. It is no secret that the Trump administration was more strict with people going to the United States and that includes students. In fact, from around 300,000 in 2016, the latest number of enrollees in 2020 had dropped to around 260,000.

Visa restrictions and policies from the Trump administration exposed more international students to the dangers of deportation or re-entry bans. As a result, many international students felt discouraged from pursuing a U.S. education. 

This decline is also reflected in a recent report by international education provider M Square Media. The MSM report, which surveyed respondents engaged in the education agency business, shows that the United States lags behind Canada, Australia, and the UK when it comes to destinations international students want to study in. 

This situation may change in the time of the Biden administration, which has made itself clear that it will steer away from the previous administration’s isolationism. Biden has proposed immigration reform that would make it easier for international students to stay in the United States after graduating in science or engineering courses. This reform has earned a lot of praise from various U.S. higher education institutions as it will encourage more international students to enroll. 

More Focus on Workforce Training

MSM Unify Blog - Workforce Training

When the former U.S. President Barack Obama was still in office, he assigned then-Vice President Biden to create a plan to prepare Americans for “ready-to-be-filled-jobs.” Now, Biden plans to make a $50 billion investment in workforce training, which also includes strengthening mentorships and partnership programs between colleges and other stakeholders to increase the number of workers in high-demand industries. 

Prioritization of Science and Research

MSm Unify Blog - Science and Research

Trump’s continuous denial of climate change and downplaying of COVID-19 has affected the scientific community greatly during his term. Data-driven policies and decisions were ignored and scientists’ credibilities were questioned. 

This snubbing of science has been happening for quite some time, however. According to the Association of American Universities, federal investment in research and development has been on the decline since 1976. 

The good news is that Biden has made it clear in his interviews and statements that he will prioritize funding in science and technology, including at research universities. In an interview with Pod Save America, Biden said he wanted to increase their funding to be able to compete internationally. 

Greater Access to Higher Education

MSm Unify Blog - HE

Last but not least is higher education will be more accessible to learners. Biden has emphasized his strong support for reducing the costs of going to college. Some measures would be the canceling of student loans, which have burdened graduates and hindered the less privileged from obtaining higher education.

Aside from student loan debt cancellation, Biden also plans to invest in college facilities and technology. 

In conclusion, the Biden administration is sure to bring in lots of changes to U.S. higher education institutions. Although there are still a lot of specifics to be discussed and operationalized, the future for education in the United States now sure looks brighter.

Share on facebook
Share on Facebook
Share on twitter
Share on Twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on LinkedIn

UK Rolls Out Updated International Education Strategy: What You Need to Know

The UK government recently released an update on the International Education Strategy, which aims to address two main changes that occurred since its initial launch in 2019 — striking a new deal with the European Union (EU) since the Brexit and ongoing challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The UK government recently released an update on the International Education Strategy, which aims to address two main changes that occurred since its initial launch in 2019 — striking a new deal with the European Union (EU) since the Brexit and ongoing challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The March 2019 version of the strategy had two main ambitions, which they aim to accomplish by 2030: 

  • Increasing education exports up to £35 billion annually 
  • Pushing the number of international higher education students in the UK to 600,000 annually

With the recent political and global health turmoil, achieving these goals will be difficult without the much-needed changes and update. 

Notable Updates on International Education Strategy

The publication included reports on the notable progress since 2019, including the following:

Introduction of Graduate Route

The launch of the new Graduate route allows international students to take advantage of extending their stay in the UK to seek job opportunities and land employment after they finished their degrees. This route gives undergraduate and master’s students additional two years of stay (three if pursuing a PhD).

Launch of New Immigration Route

As part of the new deal with the EU, the International Education Strategy introduced new points-based immigration routes, including Student and Child routes, streamlining and improving the international student application process.

Student and Child Routes

The new Student route, introduced in October 2020, aims to simplify the application process of international students, including allowing short-term students to attend classes without the need to secure a short-term Student visa. 

Additionally, individuals aged 16 and above can apply for a student visa in the UK with a sponsoring institution registered in the country. (Check the list of registered sponsoring institutions here.) To become eligible, students need to score 70 points. Since these points are non-tradeable, students need to meet all the requirements as stipulated here

Turing Scheme

The UK government also launched the Turing Scheme, an international education scheme named after the late English mathematician and computer scientist. While the scheme will begin in September 2021, it already has an existing website that details the changes on the Erasmus+ replacement. 

Erasmus+ is mainly associated with higher education. The Turing scheme will have a bigger scope, as it will go beyond higher ed. 

For one, the Turing scheme is open for all—not only for British nationals but also includes international students. This means international students can study and have a work placement within four weeks to 12 months. Funding will cover study and work placements, which can either be short term placements (from three days to two months) and long-term placement (two to six months). 

While the Department for Education (DfE) is yet to publish the details of the assessment criteria, the website states that all applications will be chosen based on how well the projects align with the Turing Scheme’s core objectives. 

As stated on the website, the Turing scheme “aims to provide students, learners, and pupils with the chance to develop new skills, gain vital international experience, and boost their employability.” Once in place, the Turing Scheme can provide funding to as much as 35,000 students. 

Diversification at the Core

The recent updates emphasize that all the strategies can only be deemed successful in the long-term through diversification. It is the main reason why international student recruitment should have a diversified base to drive sustainable growth. Going beyond the borders is one way of increasing the number of international higher education students, which will eventually increase the value of education exports in the country. 

International Education Champion Steve Smith stressed that to promote diversification, efforts will be more targeted to “priority countries,” which include India, Indonesia, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, and Vietnam. 

Universities Minister Michelle Doneland shared, “In these unprecedented times, having a proactive global education agenda is more important than ever so we can build back better from the pandemic.” She further added that the initiatives of the International Education Strategy will “enhance the experience of international students at our universities, from the moment they apply, to the first steps of their careers.”

MSM Unify is a student recruitment platform that connects HEIs in the UK and other markets to agents and their students around the world. Keep posted for more news and information that offers insights and an up-to-date look at international education and surrounding policies and movements worldwide. 

4 Hollywood Stars Who Were Once International Students

We would often look at famous people and wonder about what these celebrities did before they became popular and what shaped them to be the persons they are now.

We would often look at famous people and wonder about what these celebrities did before they became popular and what shaped them to be the persons they are now. 

Looking into the lives of five celebrities, we found they have one thing in common: They all studied in a foreign country and gained the knowledge and skills that helped shape their careers and enriched their lives. Let’s see who these famous women are and where they studied as international students.

MSM Unify - Emma Watson

Emma Watson

Photo: Mars Films | Wikimedia Commons

English actor and activist Emma Watson rose to fame when she played the role of the brilliant Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter movie franchise. She has since starred in other movies, including the live-action Disney film Beauty and the Beast.

In real life, Watson may not be a wizard, but she certainly has the smarts! She graduated from Brown University in 2014 with a bachelor’s degree in English literature. She began her freshman year at the Ivy League school in 2009, and also went back to England to study at Oxford University as part of its Visiting Student Programme. What’s admirable is that Watson pursued her degree while shooting her movies.

In an interview, Emma said that studying English literature has helped her think in an analytical manner and see the world from new perspectives. 

“Diving into these stories and characters has given richness to my own life,” Watson said. “And now, when I read scripts or look at stories, I have these references for a larger understanding of humanity,” she added, saying she’s confident it will make her job as an actor more interesting.

MSM Unify Blog - Alison Brie

Alison Brie

Photo: Gage Skidmore | Wikimedia Commons

American actor Alison Brie is best known for her role as the strait-laced Trudy Campbell in the TV series Mad Men. She also had a prominent role in the series Community, and later took on the lead in the Netflix series GLOW.

Brie studied theater at the California Institute of the Arts, where she had the opportunity to become an exchange student to Scotland. She attended the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (now the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland) in Glasgow, something she’s very proud of. Brie said her experiences and the skills she learned working with Scottish artists and teachers have been invaluable in her career. 

In an interview, Brie said that it was really important for her to use her time as a student abroad to let go of any self-consciousness, and become a better version of herself and take bigger risks. This mindset is something that has stuck with her ever since.

“We were learning so many different things,” Brie added. “It was constant risk-taking and that’s how I strive to be all the time.” 

MSM Unify Blog - Gwyneth Paltrow

Gwyneth Paltrow

Photo: Andrea Raffin | Wikimedia Commons

American actor Gwyneth Paltrow speaks almost perfect Spanish – and she does it with an Iberian accent to boot. This is all thanks to the time she spent in Spain in a student exchange program during her high school years. She was 15 years old when she went to Talavera de la Reina in Toledo and stayed with a Spanish family.

“I had the most wonderful experience. It really changed my life,” Paltrow said in an interview. “[Spain] is so different from the United States. It seemed to have a history, and the buildings are years and years and years old. Also, the way people live over there. They seem to enjoy life a little bit more,” she added.

Through her student exchange visit, Paltrow developed a deep love for Spain, its people, and its culture. She received the honor of being an “adopted daughter” of Talavera de la Reina in 2003. 

MSM Unify Blog - Maggie Gyllenhaal

Maggie Gyllenhaal

Photo: Maximilian Bühn | Wikimedia Commons

New York-born Maggie Gyllenhaal began her acting career in her teens, with small roles in several films directed by her father Stephen. She also appeared with her brother Jake in the 2001 movie Donnie Darko. 

Gyllenhaal attended Columbia University, where she studied literature and Eastern religions. After earning her bachelor’s degree in 1999, she flew to England to study acting at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) in London. Her time as an international student was brief – it was just for a summer term – but she enjoyed it, and the program helped with her transition back into acting.

“I feel so gratified about having finished college. I learned how to articulate myself,” Gyllenhaal said. She added that it gave her confidence and the ability to analyze the text.

Gyllenhaal received great acclaim for her role opposite Jeff Bridges in the 2009 movie Crazy Heart, which earned the actor her first Oscar nomination. Aside from film and TV, she has also appeared in five theater productions since 2000.


5 Memorable Firsts International Students Will Surely Experience

Firsts are always special, as they say. That is why a child’s first words will always be special to its parents, a first job will always be special to a new graduate, and a first kiss will always be special to a couple.

Firsts are always special, as they say. That is why a child’s first words will always be special to its parents, a first job will always be special to a new graduate, and a first kiss will always be special to a couple. 

Thanks to international education, students can also experience several firsts that they are not likely to forget. They may have already gained many firsts from the application process alone, but once they set foot in their new city, they’re surely in for more. 

Listed below are some of the memorable firsts that students experience when studying abroad.

MSm Unify Blog-1 Public Transportation

1. First time to commute/ride public transportation

Traveling is fun – whether it be in the metro or somewhere far away from the city lights. It can definitely be more fun if you immerse in your new country’s culture by commuting or riding in public transportation. What more when your school’s city or country has a unique mode of transportation?

Going from one place to another via public transport is a great way for an international student to be introduced to a country’s people and their customs. It can be scary at first, but it can also be exciting – and this is what makes it memorable. It can be a welcoming hug – all you have to do is hug it back.

MSM Unify Blog - Local Cuisine

2. First time to try the local cuisine

In every place that a person visits, it has been a custom to try the local cuisine. Being an international student is a ticket to devouring different kinds of food, including traditional dishes and street food staples. There are a lot of specialties to choose from–from sweet, savory, spicy, to exotic food and all of these will surely be a memorable first.

So don’t be afraid to try. Who knows, you may just discover your new favorite food!


3. First time to visit a museum or art gallery

Get to know local art spaces and appreciate a country’s history and art forms by visiting different museums and galleries in your ‘me’ time. You can definitely go beyond excelling in academic learning by experiencing your school country’s art and culture. After all, you are not just a student, but an international student who has been given a valuable opportunity to see more of the world and its people.

MSM Unify Blog - First time to explore a park

4. First time to explore a park

Before shopping malls, leisure parks have been a top destination for persons who love to walk, jog, or simply relax and feel the breeze. Countries have different kinds of outdoor spaces you can explore and enjoy, and the features of each would vary according to location, culture, and weather. Studying abroad allows you to step into these unfamiliar parks for the first time.

It could be your first time to picnic, kayak, stargaze, and feed fish in a park abroad, all on the same day.

MSM Unify Blog - First time to get lost

5. First time to get lost

Getting lost can be one of two things: a huge hassle or an opportunity to wander. Sure, it can be scary for you as an international student who is new to the place, but it can also be a life-changing and memorable experience.  

Elia Rathore, a writer who had experienced being an international student multiple times (she grew up in 10 different countries because of her diplomat parents), shares that she loves getting lost and that she’s trying to embrace and create detours. 

“What are we missing when we only see what we want to see?” she muses. “Sometimes I get off the train at random stops, or I walk a different way home. For me, feeling lost is part of the journey.” 

Being in an unfamiliar location – whether by accident or on purpose – gives you the chance to discover a place that may not even be on a map. What if there’s a cozy little bookshop within the area or an interesting restaurant just hiding around the corner, waiting to be found?