2015 could be the start of your adventure for many reasons. Perhaps you have already applied for SA/Erasmus, maybe you are considering it for next year, or it could be that you just want to travel!
Nothing inspires me more than reading others stories and so here are a few stories to inspire your taste for adventure…
Ever since I was in year 8 of school I wanted to study abroad, fuelled by my Dad’s epic stories of his year abroad to the States when he was at uni, I knew I wanted to follow in his footsteps. Whilst on exchange I visited Indonesia, Malaysia, New Zealand, 4 out of the 6 states in Australia and China. Studying abroad gave me the confidence to travel independently, explore the world and make memories that will last forever. I now have friends that live all over the world, in almost every continent, who I would love to visit at some point in my life. By moving to a different country for a year of your life you are forced to make your own decisions on everything, you grow up very quickly. This also is a massive advantage when it comes to Graduation day and we are all faced with the real world.
I made memories this year that I know I will keep with me forever and will carry on telling people until I grow old. To anyone considering a year abroad, I would say stop hesitating – every reason you could possibly have for choosing not to study abroad can be flawed by the benefits and the gains you will get, and I personally will be happy to come up with those arguments to encourage you to do it.
I wish I knew how quickly the year would go – make the most of every single second when on your year abroad!
I enjoyed everything during my Erasmus year; it has been one of the best periods of my life, so far. The city of Paris is incredible to live in; it is vibrant, beautiful and full of things to do (restaurants, museums, walks, cafés…). Paris’s nightlife is amazing as well; they do not have a culture of clubbing but more of going to bars or to somebody’s flat that I enjoyed a lot because it easier to meet and socialise, I met incredible people as well; all this because Sciences Po is a great University with so many module choices (over 80) all taught at the highest standard, and therefore you are bound to do courses you enjoy. I guess Paris and the University are what I enjoyed the most because they were the center of ‘all that was good’ during my year abroad.
There are a lot of benefits to take from an Erasmus year: you learn a language, you meet a wide range of people from all the over the world and you get to experience a different culture and lifestyle. The British culture is very widespread but there are still a lot of countries that have not adopted it and France has managed to keep as they say ‘France as French’. Finally, I would argue that experiencing another education system is important; the different norms to which you must adapt and being taken out of your comfort zone is very important because in a few years’ time as professionals we will be forced to adapt ourselves to different surroundings. Studying abroad for me was a life lesson.
I choose my university according to the exchange programme offered and Sheffield was one of the rare high ranked Universities where you still get to do a three-year course that included an Erasmus, most offered an Erasmus but the degree was four years. So I knew from day one that I wanted to study abroad. For me, the closing argument was that during the Erasmus you are ‘paid’ to study abroad (the British Council gives you some financial aid, the amounts depend on the country) and I had hardly any tuition fees to pay, so financially it made sense. I was baffled, personally, as to why people preferred not to do Erasmus or exchange programs in general.
Erasmus is a life experience not to be missed, the lessons you will learn cannot be taught in any other way than by experiencing them firsthand.
Dominik Hatiar – International Politics and Security Studies – The University of Konstanz, Germany
An exchange year makes it possible to truly discover yourself. An exchange makes this possible because it puts you into an environment which is radically different from your university or hometown. This involves the process of getting acquainted with new, for you so far unexplored things in all the spheres you can think of (ranging from culture, the domain of your study, gastronomy, music to nature and its landscapes).
In my opinion the benefits of studying abroad are?
1. It advances you’re academic skills. Usually, universities abroad have different grading systems and different expectations to which you have to adjust. For example, in my case I had to get used to holding marked presentations and writing research papers instead of writing essays and exams like in Sheffield.
2. It gives you new, valuable contacts and friendships which last. Plus you also don’t have to worry about losing contacts with your friends at your home university as you can stay in touch through todays developed social networks and after all, you will be abroad only one or two semesters.
3. It helps you to explore yourself better. You realize what you enjoy, get a better idea where would you like to live, with what kind of people would you like to spend more time and to that you can adjust the major decisions you will be making once you graduate.
4. ERASMUS and its grants combined with some sort of a part-time work enable you to become fully financially independent from your parents (living costs in continental Europe are genuinely lower than in the UK) (plus, tuition fees are in these countries much lower or non-existent!).
5. You can learn a new language.
A vital aspect was my desire to finally really learn the German language. I have had difficulties with learning a language from books and dictionaries, not to talk about finding motivation to do so while living in a country where the language is not used. But by being in a German environment and thus interacting with the language on daily basis I was forced to actually learn it. Thus, my study abroad has been very successful in fulfilling this goal. Secondly, my decision to study abroad was further reinforced by the fact of not having to pay whatsoever tuition fees while completing my second year of studies at Sheffield in Germany. Don’t be lazy to overcome all the initial inconveniences, paperwork and other difficulties, in the end effect it will be all worth it! With a little help and advice from Gloabl Opps it’s certainly not a risk to go study abroad as “risk comes only from not knowing what you’re doing”.