Free online education? A glimpse on studying internationally.

How are your New Year resolutions holding up? I decided 2015 should be about personal progress and investing time in further education. And yes, we can do it all, even on a budget. I actually begin to think online courses are a great opportunity, especially for expats and long term travellers to pick up certificates on the way. Here are three opportunities for you.


Take Spain as an example: The economic situation demands that we always be a step ahead of the competition when it comes to finding work, and here they are surprisingly upbeat when it comes to supporting job search.

So just before Christmas I did a free (yes, free!) 40h course on Digital Marketing at the University of Valencia. It was initiated by a Spanish-based organisation called Actívate and Google – and seriously worth it! If you speak Spanish, check out their courses here. They offer a handful of related MOOC Online Classes (MOOC stands for Massive Open Online Curse) – I have already done two of them so far and am planning to take more. They are all accredited by IAB Spain (Interactive Advertising Bureau) or EOI Business School Madrid. A fantastic opportunity!

activate free course in digital marketing

This was the first time I attended lectures at university in Spain. Other than the fact I had forgotten how tough it is sitting on hard wooden chairs for 5 days in a row, I was surprised how Spanish students and teachers interact with each other. Everyone is really quite chatty and very social. I couldn’t quite get used to students addressing the lecturers with an informal “tu” and everyone connected on Social Media with the lecturers. If I was to describe the Spanish teaching style in just a few words I would say: social, interactive with plenty of group assignments and it felt like being back at school. Every country is different I guess…

Update: I am about to finish my part-time masters degree in Online Marketing and am ready to share my experience of studying in Barcelona. You can read more on studying in Spain here to find helpful advice and some ideas of what to expect when studying in Spain.

Comparing this to other countries, I would say that Germany for example is taking a much more instructive and authoritative but also egalitarian approach (egalitarian in the sense of education being accessible for everyone at low cost). France on the other hand I experienced as rather competitive, focused on the individual (versus group) with a high pressure and/or fear of failing. The UK style of teaching I would probably put closer to Spain being communicative, interactive and evolving very much around debating, but I wonder if that might be more specific to English language? What do you think?

Another great opportunity but which I haven’t tried out yet is Barcelonactiva. They offer a great range of free classes in town, some of which are even touching on personal development and topics such as reaching your personal goals – unfortunately this is mostly in Catalan.

I also found a free English speaking MOOC on Positive Psychology by Fredrickson starting early February. I can’t wait to start! Positive Psychology caught my interest when doing my NLP Master Practitioner. To me it ties in and complements NLP techniques in leading a happier and fulfilled life. Anyone up for joining?
Update: I also recommend the FREE Science of Happiness online course by UC Berkeley which I actually found even more comprehensive.

Look around, there might be more options than you think. Feel free to share more learning opportunities below.



I have been a traveller and expat for over 15 years. So far my nomad lifestyle has allowed me to live and work in seven countries including the UK, France, Germany, Spain and Australia. Moving country, studying abroad and a passion for travel has been part of most of my adult life.

Leave a comment