Graduate School Abroad

Meron ba ditong nag graduate studies abroad? Can you share your experiences–which program, how you got it, the culture shock, the comparisons you couldn’t help but make between educational systems in different countries? The friends you made (and didn’t)… lahat ng adjustments you had (and continue) to make.


Hi @abbymaria :wave2:

Not grad school but more in the way of continuing education / post-grad. The most glaring difference to me is the relationship between student and teacher. It is more informal - and felt more respectful, like teachers are less likely to act superior than their student.


This is one of my top observations! Kahit gaano kagaling, ka accomplished sa field nila, they dont have to be addressed a certain way, first name basis minsan! More considerate din sila.

1 Like

Masters - JICA
PhD - Monbukogasho

One thing I noticed between grad school particularly sa MS in other countries versus in the Philippines, esp. UP, doon you are not expected to shake the very foundations of your field. ts supposed to be only an exercise or test in your ability to work or research by yourself, applying the stuff you learned in your baccalaureate degree. If you want to add knowledge in your field, thats for your PhD, and even then don’t expect it to be groundshaking, at best it will be a pin prick. And unless you are a complete dolt, nobody fails at MS. Sa UP daig pa ang SEAL bootcamp where the profs only job is to make you quit. Kaya with the exception of a few programs, halos dekada aabutin before anyone finishes an MS/MA,


LLM in Intl Economic and Business Law (Japan, Monbukagakusho)
Dr. iur in Public Law (Germany, DAAD)
Also: PhD Summer School (Norway, part-grant/part-personally funded)

My law studies in Pinas was mostly dominated by fear—fear of being called to recite a case I was not able to read thoroughly, fear of being insulted by the professor, fear of being called for recitation while on a toilet break or while absent (that was why I never went on a toilet break during class; I was also never absent), even fear of driving to school and, once there, discovering that I had forgotten to bring ANY pair of “business shoes” (I usually wear sneakers when driving and yes, you got it right: I didn’t do my law studies at UP hihi). Needless to say, I didn’t have any of these fears when I was studying abroad (ibang fears nga lang, like fear of failing which is omnipresent for me anyway). LOL

LLM — I had a blast! It was an international program and so I got to meet a lot of awesome people from all over. I have to admit, it remains to be one of my favourite years to date. It was my first time to live alone. I mean, I grew up away from family, but I always had household staff around. In Japan, I had my (tiny) apartment to myself and I was ecstatic! I was finally on my own and won’t have to supervise or complain about anyone’s work. I cleaned and polished my floor everyday, until classmates told me that no, people don’t usually do that. I also had to learn how to wash my clothes (hand wash and using the washing machine). I took (and still do) joy in cooking, although I often ate out (hey, it’s Japan!). Also, before leaving for Japan, I taught myself basic Japanese incl. Hiragana, Katakana, and some Kanji. When I got there, bahhh. Lost in translation. I enrolled in Japanese class and continued taking classes even after I left.

Dr. iur ---- Since I did not finish my undergrad law studies in Germany, I was required by State law to attend fundamental law classes and pass 3 written exams on German law, and yes in German. The professors were much more relaxed than in Pinas. There was no daily graded recitation that would make students pee in their pants. There were no insults being hurled at you when you fail to recite in toto Art. XXXX of the Civil Code (my colleagues at work could not understand why we had to memorise the law—one would have ample time to prepare when one writes a pleading, goes to court, or even advice a client—or why law school was supposed to ‘toughen one up’.) My biggest adjustment was the language (I had to reach a certain level of fluency to enroll, take the exams (and with that, of course learn the materials), and do oral exams in law topics not related to my dissertation. I only started learning German when I arrived in Germany for my doctorate. Toink. But I managed to get my degree. That was more than 3 years ago. I joined a big law firm here right after. And yes, I still struggle with legalese in German but, fortunately, not as much as I did during Year 1 in :de: :headbang:


Oh god. Law in German. It was hard enough in English :embarasslaff:

My LLM was in Comparative International Law ( 40% Dean’s Scholarship, 60 percent financial aid)
It was OK, most ng mga kaklase ay from China, may isang taga India, and a handful of Europeans (Sweden, Spain), Middle Eastern. Walang Filipino anywhere. There was 1 girl from HK who said she knew a couple of Filipinas (maids nilang bata sya). Uh, thanks? :rotfl: mao:
Dun ko naramdaman yung parang isolation. Yung oo, kasama mo mga kaklase mo nag-uusap usap kayo pero your culture and ancestry is never mirrored anywhere. IN a way nainggit ako sa mga kaklase ko’ng intsik na magkakasama kahit saan. I never thought I would feel so high school in my late 20s!

Re; Exams in JD classes --open book lahat, forced curve, block section. Only 1 final exam for your grade. Although the atmosphere was pretty congenial, the professors were surprisingly nice and considerate, never shamed anyone and no hiding the ball (alam mo ang ika cover na pages and cases for a particular class and lahat ng ika cover na topics for the exam), 1L year is pretty brutal because of the curve. And your 1L GPA is kind of critical to determine the summer jobs you get. Big law firms only interview those who belong to the top 5-10%.


got a scholarship to do my MA in Australia. one thing that struck me was that students are not required to be in class every session. may mga kaklase ako na pumapasok lang pag may report or exams. also, you are not required to address your profs a certain way. no sir or ma’am and definitely no Dr. something-something.


Ah yes I’ve noticed that in most Anglo-Am acad settings na first name basis with profs would be ok. Here in germany (as well as Austria and Switzerland), usually—there are a few exceptions, like in my research institute before we used first names, but it was more international than “heavily” German—one addresses individuals with their titles. If they are professors (they’ve finished their doctorates AND habilitation and are officially professors), then Professor XXX. If they “only” have doctorate degrees, then Dr. YYY.

Even names outside of the offices or those on the mailboxes would have the titles. And when one had earned 3 doctorates, then it’d be Dr. Dr. Dr. ZZZ. (But when you refer to him/her, just “Dr. ZZZ” would be enough lol).

@abbymaria same in Germany and in the UK (well, London) when it comes to snagging a “big law” spot: one has to be a top graduate. In Germany, that’d mean having a Predikatsexamena. That means you have got to score at the very least 9 in your first bar exams to get a spot as a legal trainee as part of your Referendariat in the biggest (with the highest revenue in Germany/the world) firms. And when you are done with Referendariat (takes about 2 years) , you take your second bar exams and have to score at least 9 again to finally get to be considered as an associate at these firms AND candidates with a doctorate degree AND an LLM are preferred. A Magic Circle firm leads the pack here, followed by an international firm which has the most number of lawyers in Germany (about 700 lawyerd in Germany alone).

Note: The grading system in Germany is from 1 to 18, with 1 being the lowest, 4 the passing, and 18 is wishful thinking. Average grades would be around 5 to 7. To be a judge, you would have to get an average of 7 to 9, depending on the State. To be a Notary of a a major city, you’d have to get at least a 9 but competition may be tough if other high scorers with work experience also apply to be a notary. (And yes BIG difference between the notaries here vs philippine notaries!!! :shock: )

In London, a legal trainee at a Magic Circle firm told me before that that firm (which has more than 4000 lawyers worldwide) only had 18 slots for legal traineeships when he applied and those who got in were all from OxBridge (Oxford or Cambridge).

1 Like

It’s tough! That’s why JD abroad is a decision one should not take lightly. Bukod sa staggering costs, the 1L curve is deadly. Dito, a pedigreed resume means a ranked law school, top 15 percent of the class at the very least, law review and/or advocacy experience preferably regional or national champ.

Did my graduate studies in Japan after putting it off to get some real-life experience. The focus of my graduate school experience was tech development research.

First, difference between people who worked before vs people who had a steady academe track. The people who worked before had strong motivations to commit to gradschool. Most of them are willing to go the extra mile to get their point across (whether by conferences, intl journal publication, or collaborative work). In comparison, the people who had a steady academic life (undergrad to gradschool) had some difficulty creating their own narratives (not only Filipinos but from every nationality). I guess being away from the real is creating gap between research and intended application.

As for culture, if a person is willing to hearing ideas, then the living and studying abroad is not that difficult. However, hearing and accepting are very different things.

Finally, I was lucky enough to now be surrounded by less than stellar things when I did my studies. If you wanted to do something and knew how to do it, they usually give you the freedom and means to do so. Sana noong nasa UP ako, ganoon din. Hindi 'yong lahat ikaw. If I had had all the resources that I enjoyed in gradschool back when I was in undergrad, my research would have been something more.


Joining one soon - di ko lang alam kung online or face to face. I will keep you all updated pag nagsimula na semester namin.


MBA- Vienna, Austria (with 50% scholarship)

I was admitted last year pa pero this year ako magsisimula. Good thing the program is in English. Dudugo ang ilong ko sa German. :rotfl:

Ang bait nila kasi sa mga non-native English speakers, they would require an IELTS or a TEFL certificate. After the panel interview, they decided to waive that requirement for me. :hahaha:


Walking distance lang bahay ko sa University of Sydney at nakakatempt mag-aral pero parang di ako hiyang kung online mode (due to covid).

I’m thinking of MBA pero di masyadong patok ang MBA dito (cashcow lang siya for universities to attract foreign students who are the main source of revenue) pero baka try ko lang din. I’ve been thinking of shifting careers anyway.


Same for here, pero yung mga kasabayan ko na Chinese required pa din kasi although they have excellent writing skills and understood English as well as anyone, medyo makapal accent nila.

Same sa US. They recruit aggressively to fill their graduate programs.


I would like to do my LLM abroad but with covid right now… it looks like my dream will not materialize anytime soon.


Di rin ako hiyang sa WFH/Distance Learning/Online mode. When I was doing my PhD, it was no longer necessary for me to come into the lab. I had a hi-speed net connection at home to the university, I could access the computers remotely, download articles for my manuscript, etc. Even my prof left me alone to do my thing and only asked me to come in to sign/stamp documents. But I was more productive in the lab. Somehow the sense of community and perhaps a bit of competition helps. My apartment was only a 5-10 minutes walk away anyway. Plus AC in summer and heat in the winter is free hehe. There was simply just too much distraction at home, same as now.