By Sarah Talty, 4th year Journalism and New Media
We are very lucky that the University of Limerick is one of the best colleges for allowing their students Co-op and Erasmus opportunities. UL are linked with many fantastic colleges all around the world and when the time comes to finally choose where to go on Erasmus it can be very daunting. Here is some advice from one veteran Erasmus student:
Language is one of the main factors we think about. If you want to improve on a language you’re studying then you should go to the country. If you’re thinking of taking up Spanish and want to get some real practise in then head for Spain. If you’re heading to a very touristy city then most people will speak English, but if you don’t have a language but English do some solid research into how easy it will be for you to live there.
Make sure the place you’re going is easily accessible. As well as flying to and from the place you also want to check that an airport near you has relatively cheap and frequent flights to other countries. Most Erasmus placements are five or six months. That’s a long time to be away from home and it’s likely you’re going to want to go home for a few days and make sure your dog still remembers who you are. If the place you choose for your Erasmus is a paradise but you can’t travel anywhere else in the six months or afford to go home or nobody can afford to come visit you, it might be worth looking into somewhere else.
Sometimes we become so swept up in the idea of living in a foreign country that we forget we’re actually going there to study. Look up the college’s website and see what modules they have to offer you and if they’d be something you’d be interested in and are worth your time going there.
Do some proper research into the college you’re thinking of attending and look up it’s academic timetable. See what dates the college is starting and finishing, if you have plans for the summer, like a J1 job lined up, this could be affected. Also check what holidays you get from college, this could be a great time to nip back home or go travelling.
Being from Ireland the weather is something we’re constantly thinking and talking about. Depending on when your Erasmus is taking place it’s worth looking up the average temperature for the months you’re going to be there. You might find that a country you think of as being hot is nearly the same temperature as Ireland in November.
Things To Do
Make sure there are things to do in the country you’re going to. It might be great to wander around picturesque towns for the first few weeks snapping pics, but if there aren’t any cinemas showing movies in English or proper nightlife then you’re going to get bored fast.
You probably think I’m going to tell you to try to pick somewhere your friends are going so you’ll have someone to help you through this rough transition? Wrong. It’s scary to go somewhere different to your friends but at the end of Erasmus you can look back and feel more confident that you’ve survived Erasmus all by yourself. It forces you to put yourself out there and make new friends from all around the world. It’s also a positive because you’ll have to expand on your go to topics of conversation such as mutual friends, nights out and sports because your new friends wont have a clue what you’re on about. Another plus is that if your college friends all go different places for Erasmus then you’ll have loads of different countries to visit, all with free accommodation and a built in tour guide.