Oxford versus Karolinska

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PsAi
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Oxford versus Karolinska

Post by PsAi » Fri Apr 07, 2017 5:10 am

Hello folks,

I have not been very active with my financial record keeping over the last 2-3 months mostly because I finished applications to various universities and also because I bought an old Volkswagen that I am repairing right now and that I plan to live in. I will give an update on that in a bit with some neat photos.

On the career/education side of things, I plan to do another master starting this fall term. Therefore I applied to the University of Oxford, as well as to Edinburgh, St. Andrews and lastly to the Karolinska Institute. I have no idea how I did it, but I got accepted to every single program I applied for. On the downside of my luxury problem, I now have to choose between all those good and renowned universities. After receiving an offer letter from the University of Oxford, the other places in the UK (Edinburgh and. St. Andrews) are sort of out for me.


I am now torn between an M.Sc. in Water Science, Policy and Management at Oxford and an M.Sc. in Global Health at the Karolinska Institute.
Below I have listed pros and cons of both places.

Image




Until yesterday I thought that I would definitely choose Oxford if the tuition would not be so high. Then in the afternoon, the guys from the Karolinska Institute called me and during a very nice chat the incredibly high number of applications (800) for the program came up. Then again, it is easier to apply to the Karolinska than to Oxford (no 3 reference letters needed and no application fee). Anyhow, I have really no clue which place to choose even if I'd get a scholarship to Oxford.

Regarding future plans and the bigger picture, graduating from either university would allow me to get into politics as well as into all sorts of NGOs.




So, i just wanted to leave this here. Maybe some of you have can share their thoughts on my "problem" or bring my attention to something I have not considered yet.

How would you choose?


Cheerio

PsAi

James_0011
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Re: Oxford versus Karolinska

Post by James_0011 » Fri Apr 07, 2017 6:02 am

I don't know anything about universities in Europe, but I'd love to see photos of the van after you've fixed it up.

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BRUTE
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Re: Oxford versus Karolinska

Post by BRUTE » Fri Apr 07, 2017 7:22 am

so brute had to search for this, but apparently the Karolinska institute is in Sweden?

thoughts:
- reputation does matter to humans
- it's also a good story to say PsAi has turned down Oxford to instead follow his passion or whatever
- with that CoL, the money won't matter much anyway
- Sweden does sound cold to live in a van, but isn't the UK pretty cold as well in winter? maybe PsAi should also apply to the University of Phoenix :)

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chenda
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Re: Oxford versus Karolinska

Post by chenda » Fri Apr 07, 2017 7:40 am

How do you plan to live in a van in/near oxford ?You'll need a registered campsite which may be expensive and probably only permits short term occupation.

PsAi
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Re: Oxford versus Karolinska

Post by PsAi » Fri Apr 07, 2017 8:49 am

I got a friend there whose house I can formally use as a residence and as an address that I can give to the university. Mail and stuff would be sent there. However, I wouldn't have to pay any rent and just sleep in the van, wherever it is parked. Even moving it around every couple of days would not be a problem and toilet facilities are easily accessible at the university or at 24/7 fitness centers.

ducknalddon
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Re: Oxford versus Karolinska

Post by ducknalddon » Fri Apr 07, 2017 8:52 am

I think you will find it difficult to live in a van around Oxford, there may even be a rule that says you cannot own a vehicle while studying there (I know this is the case in Cambridge).

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chenda
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Re: Oxford versus Karolinska

Post by chenda » Fri Apr 07, 2017 9:15 am

ducknalddon wrote:
Fri Apr 07, 2017 8:52 am
I think you will find it difficult to live in a van around Oxford, there may even be a rule that says you cannot own a vehicle while studying there (I know this is the case in Cambridge).
+1 It would be unlawful for you to use a van for domestic inhabitation on public land like roads and lay-bys. Even on private land with the landowners permission you will be restricted to a maximum of 28 days, beyond which you would need planning permission. And Oxfordshire is not a place you would get away with it.

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Re: Oxford versus Karolinska

Post by PsAi » Fri Apr 07, 2017 9:31 am

chenda wrote:
Fri Apr 07, 2017 9:15 am
ducknalddon wrote:
Fri Apr 07, 2017 8:52 am
I think you will find it difficult to live in a van around Oxford, there may even be a rule that says you cannot own a vehicle while studying there (I know this is the case in Cambridge).
+1 It would be unlawful for you to use a van for domestic inhabitation on public land like roads and lay-bys. Even on private land with the landowners permission you will be restricted to a maximum of 28 days, beyond which you would need planning permission. And Oxfordshire is not a place you would get away with it.


phhhhh that is quite a bummer :cry: Well honestly, I sort of expected something like that. Nevertheless, I slept in several cars in Iceland, New Zealand, Germany, France and Spain already and for up to 2 months at a time and my presumption/experience by now is simply that no one pays attention and also does not really care either. Cars and people living in cars easily pass under the radar. No biggie whatsoever from the "lawful" point of view for me.

Of course, the UK might be different. No idea. I just figure Oxford to be a reasonably big/buzzing city and, as always in the western world, no one really paying attention to what is actually going on around them.


I did not find anything regarding that rule that you are talking about. Why should students not be allowed to own a vehicle? What is the reasoning here?

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daylen
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Re: Oxford versus Karolinska

Post by daylen » Fri Apr 07, 2017 11:13 am

Calculate the amount of time you must live in the van for it to pay for itself. If it will pay for itself in less than 6 months then it would definitely be worth it! If you are smart about it (inconspicuous, park in different places, only use the van for sleeping), then it is doubtful to me that the authorities will catch on in that time frame.

Stahlmann
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Re: Oxford versus Karolinska

Post by Stahlmann » Fri Apr 07, 2017 12:04 pm

Why do you stay in education system for long time?
Is it your strategy to collect stipends and save them?

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Re: Oxford versus Karolinska

Post by PsAi » Fri Apr 07, 2017 12:31 pm

Stahlmann wrote:
Fri Apr 07, 2017 12:04 pm
Why do you stay in education system for long time?
Is it your strategy to collect stipends and save them?
Not exactly. Two reasons really:
1) I just don't feel like stemming a 40 hour week at 25 and prefer the leisurely lifestyle of a student.
2) Higher education is very stimulating and I enjoy it.

daylen wrote:
Fri Apr 07, 2017 11:13 am
Calculate the amount of time you must live in the van for it to pay for itself. If it will pay for itself in less than 6 months then it would definitely be worth it! If you are smart about it (inconspicuous, park in different places, only use the van for sleeping), then it is doubtful to me that the authorities will catch on in that time frame.
That was my initial reasoning to live in a van. The average rent for a dorm(room) in Oxford and in Stockholm is around 700-800€ Euros a month.
Using the van for sleeping for 12 months would save me something between 8000-10000€.

The van itself was 5000€. Let's say 6-7k with insurance, taxes, and fuel for a year.
Furthermore, those old Volkswagen vans don't lose their price. One kept in a reasonably good condition will always go for something between 3-7k.






Anyhow, I feel like this is starting to be just about living in the van, which is something that I am pretty determined to do either way.
I was hoping to get some more feedback on other aspects of the two possibilities.

Is it worth spending so much money just for a degree from Oxford? And if so, why?

ducknalddon
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Re: Oxford versus Karolinska

Post by ducknalddon » Fri Apr 07, 2017 12:56 pm

PsAi wrote:
Fri Apr 07, 2017 9:31 am
I did not find anything regarding that rule that you are talking about. Why should students not be allowed to own a vehicle? What is the reasoning here?
Congestion I presume, you can apply for a license under special circumstances.

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chenda
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Re: Oxford versus Karolinska

Post by chenda » Fri Apr 07, 2017 1:18 pm

If you're doing the degree for career advancement and ROI is important then I would lean towards oxford, even if the costs are not as favourable. Rightly or wrongly it's brand will be a significant asset.

If this is more about personal interest or self development then I would go towards the most affordable option in the environment you most prefer. And be prepared to be disappointed with the oxford environment; it's a congested, noisy city, full of tourists, traffic and ring roads.

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Re: Oxford versus Karolinska

Post by jacob » Fri Apr 07, 2017 1:27 pm

What are your priorities here again?
  • To live in a van?
  • To go into public health?
  • To go into water resource management?
  • To relive the student years for another couple of years?
  • To live abroad for some time?
Where do you see yourself afterwards? How many of these are important && once-in-a-lifetime opportunities?

You're Swedish(?) ... but we just had Brexit, so what's the likelihood of working at NGO's in a country that now has barriers to foreigners? I know that countries actually habitually exchange political campaigners ... but what's your advantage as a non-citizen? To get into the UK now, you'd presumable need some employer to sponsor you. This is important because Oxford and Karolinska may or may not have placement programs---and the Oxford ones may be useless to you because you're a foreign (EU/non-UK) national.

In case you end up doing something else entirely, Oxford has worldwide clout in all fields. Everybody knows what it is. Karolinska has clout in Scandinavia and likely inside its field/focus. => Oxford has way more optionality than Karolinska. Saying Oxford is like saying Princeton, Stanford, or Harvard. You'll be in the Top#10 or Top#5 in terms of brand recognition. As far as the hiring committee goes, you'll be taken seriously simply because it is certain that you were sufficiently high-performance in high school to get in in the first place.

If you plan to go to graduate school, I'd look into which professors are around and what they're working on. The reason is that this will completely determine what kind of serendipity you will experience. Also keep in mind that while good teaching and classes can be a beautiful thing, it is quickly converging on irrelevant from the level you're currently at.

Another thing to consider are your fellow students. A highly competitive school will have a different population sample than one that's easier to get into. Certain schools atract or rather hold on to certain personality types. Which one would you fit best into. This is important because these will in many ways be your future colleagues or networking connections.

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Re: Oxford versus Karolinska

Post by Stahlmann » Fri Apr 07, 2017 1:51 pm

PsAi wrote:
Fri Apr 07, 2017 12:31 pm
Stahlmann wrote:
Fri Apr 07, 2017 12:04 pm
Why do you stay in education system for long time?
Is it your strategy to collect stipends and save them?
Not exactly. Two reasons really:
1) I just don't feel like stemming a 40 hour week at 25 and prefer the leisurely lifestyle of a student.
2) Higher education is very stimulating and I enjoy it.
You seem very capable in terms of absorbing knowledge.
Although, it would be (maybe) better to sweat off in business world when you are young (?).

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Re: Oxford versus Karolinska

Post by pukingRainbows » Fri Apr 07, 2017 5:46 pm

PsAi wrote:
Fri Apr 07, 2017 12:31 pm
Is it worth spending so much money just for a degree from Oxford? And if so, why?
Name recognition. Going to a prestigious university pays for itself over and over again in casually proving your worth to others. I don't think that's your real goal here, but it's really practical in establishing your credibility to society at large. Especially if you plan on doing unconventional things in the future, having a "I graduated from Oxford" in passing conversation is a useful counterpoint.

I've actually never heard of the other university and that's kinda my point.

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Eureka
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Re: Oxford versus Karolinska

Post by Eureka » Sat Apr 08, 2017 3:12 am

Looking at your OP, you already provided the answer.
Oxford: 3 green + 2 red
Karolinska: 6 green + 1 red

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Re: Oxford versus Karolinska

Post by PsAi » Sat Apr 08, 2017 3:52 am

jacob wrote:
Fri Apr 07, 2017 1:27 pm
What are your priorities here again?
  • To live in a van? --> Yea, definitely something I would like to do. Mostly because it saves me money and I see it as a challenge.
  • To go into public health? --> Yes, in regards of the provision of public goods, e.g. water.
  • To go into water resource management? --> Yes with regards to public/global health.
  • To relive the student years for another couple of years? --> Nope, not a priority for me. But of course, a nice thing to do.
  • To live abroad for some time? --> Nope, already lived in Germany, Austria, France, Spain, Belgium and New Zealand for at least half a year each. I would prefer if I had one of these two universities right on my doorstep.
jacob wrote:
Fri Apr 07, 2017 1:27 pm

Where do you see yourself afterward? How many of these are important && once-in-a-lifetime opportunities?

In case you end up doing something else entirely, Oxford has worldwide clout in all fields. Everybody knows what it is. Karolinska has clout in Scandinavia and likely inside its field/focus. => Oxford has way more optionality than Karolinska. Saying Oxford is like saying Princeton, Stanford, or Harvard. You'll be in the Top#10 or Top#5 in terms of brand recognition. As far as the hiring committee goes, you'll be taken seriously simply because it is certain that you were sufficiently high-performance in high school to get in in the first place.
pukingRainbows wrote:
Fri Apr 07, 2017 5:46 pm
PsAi wrote:
Fri Apr 07, 2017 12:31 pm
Is it worth spending so much money just for a degree from Oxford? And if so, why?
Name recognition. Going to a prestigious university pays for itself over and over again in casually proving your worth to others. I don't think that's your real goal here, but it's really practical in establishing your credibility to society at large. Especially if you plan on doing unconventional things in the future, having an "I graduated from Oxford" in passing conversation is a useful counterpoint.

I've actually never heard of the other university and that's kinda my point.

Yea, I'm not entirely sure where I see myself afterward. That depends on various variables, such as the state of health of my parents, the work/phd placement of my girlfriend as well as my financial situation. Ideally, I would like to work some 5-10 years in the US or Canada and then move back to Europe and sort of "settle down".

True true - optionality, prestige and the "oh wow that guy went to oxford"-moment are the big big big pluses of having studied at Oxford. I tend to be interested in many things and can easily see myself shifting direction entirely. Something that would be much easier with a degree from Oxford.
Then again, it would not be impossible with one from the Karolinska Institute. At least in its field, it is regarded as one of the best -if not the best- in the world; and admission is even more competitive than in Oxford.

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Re: Oxford versus Karolinska

Post by PsAi » Sat Apr 08, 2017 3:58 am

Eureka wrote:
Sat Apr 08, 2017 3:12 am
Looking at your OP, you already provided the answer.
Oxford: 3 green + 2 red
Karolinska: 6 green + 1 red


Yes, true. But of course, they do not all weigh the same.

It boils down to a decision between the degree that I feel drawn to at the moment and that comes with less financial and bureaucratical burdens (Karolinska) and the one I almost love as much and that is, furthermore, certainly the better asset for any future scenario - but also harder to pursue in terms of finances and bureaucracy.

Looking at the bigger picture, and since the programs last only a year anyways, I should probably work my ass off and go to Oxford.

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Re: Oxford versus Karolinska

Post by Jean » Sat Apr 08, 2017 4:04 am

I might had that sleeping in a non isolated vehicle with -10° is not a problem per se. Especially if you have access to uni facility
You might have to drive a few km some mornings to dry the car, but the cold itself won't arm you.

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Re: Oxford versus Karolinska

Post by James_0011 » Wed May 10, 2017 11:19 am

Im not sure if this helps, but I went to a fairly expensive prestigious university in the US (although it certainly wasn't at the same level as oxford). and I regret it a lot. If I had to do it over again I would opt for a cheaper state university or even a super low ranked school that would give me a full scholarship.

I realized that I don't really care about a "career" and would much rather reach FI sooner. So, the question is do you care about your career? Or do you want to reach FI sooner?

You also state that you have a lot of different interests - having a graduate degree is going to make it harder to move from field to field not easier but I'm sure your realize this already.

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Re: Oxford versus Karolinska

Post by Smashter » Wed May 10, 2017 1:10 pm

I agree with James_0011. If you just want to be FI, prestige shouldn't matter.

I went to a US school on par with Oxford. It cost me a whole bunch of money. I have very minimal savings because I am still paying off my loan. All for a liberal arts degree!

If I could do it again I would make a different choice. It's not like my degree hasn't come in handy, it was just incredibly expensive.

Seems like you'll be fine either way, good luck!
Last edited by Smashter on Thu May 11, 2017 7:42 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Oxford versus Karolinska

Post by Crazylemon » Wed May 10, 2017 2:52 pm

On the Van in Oxford side...You will likely need to move around a lot and certainly in the picturesque centre you would be unlikely to have any time unnoticed unless very stealth (not that there is any free parking there by and large anyway). As a wealthy pretty city people will take notice of an odd van if it stays around for long.

As an aside I find the idea of Oxford as a large bustling city somewhat amusing but then I guess I have 'london bias'.

On the Brexit challenge front. We haven't left! Yet...But be aware as other have mentioned in 2 years time staying probably won't be so easy, our just about to happen election will confirm that. Especially if you are thinking of public health given there Government aspect of that sector has had massive cuts which are set to continue making a large number of qualified people start looking for work...

From your Pro/cons it looks like you think Karolinska is a better fit.

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Re: Oxford versus Karolinska

Post by saving-10-years » Wed May 10, 2017 4:21 pm

+1 on parking in central Oxford being a notoriously big problem. Van living will involve a lot of moving around and/or taking a bus in from the outskirts. You might find this advice on parking zones useful https://www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/cms/cont ... zones-cpzs. While not car friendly it is cycle friendly (at least relative to other cities in the UK).

Being involved in college life is part of what you are paying the large fee for so it would be a great waste of opportunity if you were nowhere near your college for most of the time, especially on a one year course. In calculation of living costs remember that its not only a university town its a top UK tourist destination so relatively expensive CoL and busy all the time.

Congrats on having several great places to choose from.

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Re: Oxford versus Karolinska

Post by YoungAndWise » Wed May 10, 2017 5:32 pm

First, from raw financial numbers it makes sense to go to Karolinska. You don't pay tuition and you can always get a six month lease if you need to sleep in an apartment. Besides Stockholm is a cool city from the time when I visited a couple years ago.

Second, looking at future job prospects you might be limiting your connections to NGO's in EU proper as the current PM seems to be shooting herself in the foot recently as possible getting a decent deal, and burning brings while she is at it. (From an American's perspective who looks upon whats going in Europe currently)

Third, if you don't know what you are going to pursue a career, take the option that places you in less debt so as that will mean you have to worry about less things immediately.

Besides we need more people for a Baltic ERE Meetup ;)

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