How to prepare to go on Erasmus

By Elle Walsh, 3rd year Applied Languages student at the University of Limerick

It can seem daunting trying to get ready for a semester abroad if you’ve never lived outside of Ireland before. Knowing what to pack, what to leave behind and most importantly, what to expect can be a real challenge. That’s why I’ve decided to make a quick checklist of what I believe is essential.


If you’re only going for one semester like most University of Limerick students do, it’s important to not bring too much stuff as you won’t need it all and it will just be a pain dragging stuff that you barely wore back home again. If you’re going for the first semester you will most likely be arriving to warm summer like conditions, DO NOT be tempted to bring heaps of summer clothes and the weather will change quickly and you’ll be left feeling cold.

I think it’s a good idea to bring one of everything and try make sure that most of the things you bring match the other stuff, so you can create new outfits which will stop you getting bored of your clothes.  In most mainland European countries except for Spain girls don’t get as dressed up as we do at home, my advice is to leave the heels behind and bring some nice boots that you feel comfortable in to wear out at night.

Remember that you will most likely always want to buy something new as well when you’re over there so don’t over do it. Packing lightly is not my strong suit and it is something that I regret!


Before I left UL in December 2016 to start my year abroad someone told me to scan everything important to you and put it on a memory stick and save it to a cloud that you use. This was the best advise that anyone has given me. I also made copies of my passport, driving licence, birth cert and E111 card as well as a letter from UL saying that I was in fact still a student there. In Germany especially, I needed these things to register, get a train ticket and for my job.

In April while on Coop I lost my purse with most of these things inside, luckily, I had copies, so I still had proof of identity while I waited for my new things to arrive. I would recommend doing this, it only takes a few minutes of your time before you leave and saves so much time over there.


Skin Care and Medicines

If you have super sensitive skin and have your skin care routine nailed down, I would advise bringing at least two month’s worth of supplies so that you have time to find the stuff you use in your new country or at worst have it sent over to you!

Similarly, with prescription medicine or stuff that you need every day, bring enough with you to last until you will next get to see a doctor at home again, even with the pill. It can be really complicated going to doctors in other countries and this is a stress saving method of staying healthy!


Must haves

These are just some random things that I think are so important to bring with you.

  • Obviously, an adapter for the plugs, what I usually do, is bring one or two adaptors and then an extension cord so that I can use everything I want to when I want and if there isn’t a plug close to your bed you don’t have to rearrange your whole room (your welcome).
  • A swimming costume, even if you’re not going to somewhere near a beach you never know when you will want to get away for the weekend.
  • Plasters, paracetamol, cold and flu tablets etc. It’s something I always forget to buy until I need them by bringing them with you, you can avoid having to go to the shops when you are at your worst.
  • Something from home, it’s so important to bring something that brings you comfort when your upset. For me it’s my dressing gown and my favourite slippers, I have them with me whenever I move away and it’s nice to have something that reminds you of home when you get a bit lonely or stressed out with assignments.

I’m sure I’ve forgotten somethings, but I hope this was helpful for you while you are packing to leave on your adventure. I’m so jealous, I wish I could be back starting mine all over again, best of luck!


Elle Walsh is a 3rd year Applied Languages student studying French, German and Politics at the University of Limerick. In 2016, Elle took a gap year to improve her language skills and travel around Europe. 


My Co-op in Cologne


Elle Walsh is a 2nd year Applied Languages student at the University of Limerick. She is currently off campus on her Co-cop placament in Cologne, Germany. Here she gives us a review of her first few weeks away from UL:

“Coop chooses you, unfortunately you don’t get to choose your coop. You select a host destination and the coop office organize interviews for you and you are placed wherever you are successful. For me, I was lucky and got my placement on my first interview meaning I had lots of time to prepare. I am working in a Kindergarten in the German city of Cologne (Köln) and thankfully I love it.

When I began the process of applying for coop I was adamant that I didn’t want to work in a kindergarten after having a traumatizing experience au pairing however I was successful in my first interview meaning that unless I wanted to find my own placement I was off to Cologne.

Come January first  I was on my way to becoming a full time kindergarten teacher. After spending my first month here I am so happy that you are made to take your first offer. The job is so rewarding and I come home everyday feeling a bit tired but never stressed out or unhappy with how the day has been. The working environment is warm and friendly with a real family atmosphere.

For me the biggest thing that I have learned so far from my coop placement is to stay open minded and take every opportunity that comes your way. If I had had the opportunity to turn this teaching position down I would have but now that I am here I am very happy to be spending the next five months in this role!

If I could offer any advice for students thinking about going on coop to a foreign country it would be to remember to be open minded, for me I wanted to go to a bigger city like Hamburg or Berlin and wasn’t so keen on the idea of Cologne a smaller city that I didn’t know that much about. However after being here for the past month I really love it and even have started to prefer it to Berlin. Co-op is all about learning to become an adult and finding out how to take part in the world around you independently and although I don’t think I will pursue early childhood education as a further career I am very thankful to have this opportunity!”


Elle Walsh is a 2nd year Applied Languages student studying French, German and Politics at the University of Limerick. Last year, Elle took a gap year to improve her language skills and travel around Europe. 

Studying Languages: The social degree

By Elle Walsh

I chose to study languages at third level mostly because I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do and I knew for that I enjoyed French in secondary school, well I enjoyed talking… to anyone, in any language. I have been “blessed” with the gift of the gab. From the moment I learned to speak I have not stopped. I will to anyone, about anything. I have communication skills in capital letters all over my cv, and similarly too chatty on every school report.  By choosing to study two languages I have no widened my potential pool of potential conversations by 449 million people!

Studying languages at UL has opened so many doors for me. Last year I spent nine months working and living in France. Six of these were spent in the French Alps working in a ski resort and the other three consisted of living on the French island of Corsica looking after two children. I was also lucky enough to spend some time in Berlin, learning about the history and culture of the most amazing city in the world. Without my language skills I would never had put myself in these situations.  Some of which were the best times of my life!

And that is only the beginning of my travelling thanks to my degree, this coming January I will be packing my bags once again to move to Germany to work in a German company for six months. A compulsory part of my course! Then that September I get to study in France for a semester, also compulsory! These are things that so many people don’t have the opportunity to do, but with a language degree in UL it’s just the beginning! Every summer people most of my course migrate to different parts of the world to improve their language skills and soak up the culture! Trips like these are ones that create friendships and memories  that will last a life time.

Although I sit in German grammar classes and wonder what I ever did to deserve a fate like this I would never change my degree for the social benefits that come with it.  I chose to study languages without really knowing if it was right for me, I can say now that it definitely is.  My  degree has given me the ability to form friendships with people I would have never have spoken to and made me feel at home in a foreign country miles away from anyone I knew! This alone without even considering the advantages language graduates have, makes my degree worth while!

This week, the University of Limerick marks Languages Week – check out the full programme here:


Elle Walsh is a 2nd year Applied Languages student at the University of Limerick. Last year, Elle took a gap year to improve her language skills and travel around Europe. This semester she is back in Limerick studying French, German and Politics.