What To Consider When Choosing Where To Go On Erasmus

By Sarah Talty, 4th year Journalism and New Media

ErasmusWe 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

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.

Travel

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.

College

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.

Dates

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.

Weather

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.

Friends

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.

 

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My Erasmus experience in Belgium

By Roisin O’Donoghue, BA New Media & English, University of Limerick

This time last year I was on my Erasmus in city of Ghent, Belgium. I lived and studied there from the 20th September to 23rd of December. Much like my Co-op it was an experience that I will never forget. The upsides were getting to travel to other cities and neighbouring countries. Then the downsides were living with others and studying. So much studying.

Belgium was not my first choice for Erasmus nor was it my second or even my third. However, it was pretty much my only choice because the other destinations I had in mind were taken up so Belgium was kind of a last resort. Three of my friends from my course were also going so at least I wasn’t alone. It was still a year away at this point so I didn’t really think that much about. At the same time, I was preparing for my Co-op in France in the same year. Yet as the summer of 2016 dragged on and I was trying to organise the necessary documents and choose my modules for the university I began to feel the excitement. I didn’t feel nervous or stressed unlike how I felt about Co-op because I had experience of living away from home now and I wasn’t going to be on my own. I felt that it would be the amazing, must-have experience that others made it out to be.

We travelled from Dublin airport to Brussels airport on the 20th September. When we got there, we were a bit confused as to what trains to get to Ghent and ended up missing the first one. When we finally caught the next one we had the immense task of hauling our luggage onto the train which took some serious teamwork. When we arrived in the city of Ghent we then had to find our way to where we were going to be staying for the next few months which took up more time and by the end we were all exhausted. Once I got to my room all I wanted to do was collapse onto the absurdly squeaky bed and sleep for a week. I couldn’t though as we had to get food and explore the city a bit.

I loved Ghent, it’s so beautiful with the castle, church and river running through it. Plus, the shopping was great too! Our student accommodation was near the city centre so we could walk in and out as we pleased. The accommodation itself was fairly basic but I still loved my room it was like a small apartment. The modules we studied were Masters Classes and they were tough but we got through the exams (5 of them, most I’ve had since Leaving Cert) and I was so relieved once they were done. They stressed me out but I felt a great sense of achievement for doing them.

The best thing about Erasmus for me though was getting the opportunity to travel. When I was there I visited Antwerp, Leuven, Bruges, Luxembourg and France. These are all wonderful places to visit and I would highly recommend them. One of the biggest downsides was living with others. I lived with other people when I was in France but I didn’t spend every day with them. My friends and I spent a lot of our time with each other as we lived on the same floor in the same building and had all the same classes together. There were times when we got kind of tired of each other but we came out of it still as good friends. So overall it was an incredible experience and I’m glad I did it although I do wish I prepared myself a little better I wouldn’t change it.

Leaving UL

I am writing this blog, knowing that I am going to leave UL and Ireland soon. The past two semesters were the best time of my life. In honor of this amazing experience and my time in UL, I want to give you a recap of my Erasmus journey and the time I spend in Ireland.

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University of Limerick – UL

UL was the most welcoming place I have ever been to. The international office did an amazing job to make sure that we have all the information and support needed to study at UL. After this introduction I had an amazing time at UL. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect about studying in another country, but all the lecturers, tutors, and the fellow students were really nice and helpful if I had questions. The campus is so beautiful and everything is on one place, which makes it easy to walk to lecture halls, get lunch or just hang out with friends.

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Friends

During the whole time at UL I met a lot of Irish and international friends. It really helped with making my whole experience even better. Also it is nice to know that there are similar students who are studying in another country away from home. In addition being part of a club or societies was the best thing ever. At my home university we don’t have things like Clubs & Societies. It is a simple way to meet new people and have a lot of craic. Thanks to my Erasmus experience I now have connections all around the world and many new friends for life.

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Life in Ireland

Ireland is an open and warmhearted country. Of course there are some differences to Germany, but it is also a good way to learn something new about another country and its culture. For example the Irish weather, a good Irish breakfast on a Saturday morning or that the stores are open on a Sunday. My favorite part is that everybody is so polite and helpful and always apologize for everything.

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Adventure – travel

Generally people come to Ireland to travel around and see all the beautiful places. And even though I was here to study I had enough time to travel around a little bit. Also the International Society organized some fun adventures with trips all over Ireland. I enjoyed the wild nature and the beautiful places I’ve been to in Ireland. My favorite trip was the Ring of Kerry. And I know that I have to come back sometime, because there will always be a spot that wants to be discovered.

All in all it was an experience which I will never forget. I learned so much about myself, life and that sometimes you just have to be spontaneous to enjoy the special things in life. Before I say my final goodbye I want to thank all the people I met during my time at UL, the UL Basketball Team, the Trampoline Club, the AHSS Ambassador Program and the International Office for everything they have done for me during this journey. I know that I will miss UL and all my friends. I definitely leave UL with mixed feelings. But I know you always meet twice and I will definitely come back!

My Co-op in Cologne

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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!”

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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. 

My Erasmus journey at the University of Limerick

By Nadine Kimak

nadineHi my name is Nadine and I’m from Germany. I am studying Social Science and right now I’m doing my 3rd and 4th semester at the University of Limerick.

Every time I meet new people they are really interested in why I chose Ireland and what it is like to be an Erasmus student. Therefore I want to share my story and journey with you.

Let’s start at the beginning. According to my academic studies in Germany I didn’t have to do an Erasmus year. But I could choose to do it. I talked to a lot of people who did an Erasmus and also to a boy who went to the University of Limerick. At the beginning I wasn’t quite sure if I could handle two semesters in another country, with another language in the lectures and a new culture. But I also knew that this was a lifetime opportunity and I didn’t want to blow it. I looked at the website of my home university to find out on which partner universities I could go. When I saw Ireland I knew that this is the one I wanted to go to. I heard so many things about the beautiful Islands, so I applied for the Erasmus spot. Luckily I got the spot and so I packed everything together and came to Ireland.

Landing at the Shannon Airport my first impression was that this is the nicest country I’ve ever been to. Everybody is so polite and offers you help. The orientation week and the first couple weeks just kept getting better and better. And you get to know so many people that it is really easy to fit in. Besides I really enjoy the different lecture and grading system. At first doing everything on English seemed complicated to me. But right now it is harder for me to switch back in German when I am writing an email back home ;).

The best about being a student in Ireland is that you can travel around the island. I know that studying here my priority is on my studies. But joining Clubs and Societies, having fun and going on trips should in my opinion also be a part of the time here at the University of Ireland. Because through that you will meet new people, get to know their culture and make lifelong friends.

So far I enjoyed every second of my journey here in Ireland and I hope that it’s continuing to be GRAND! I wish everybody who wants or has to do an Erasmus semester the best time of their lives.

Here is a short video of my Erasmus journey so fare. I hope you like it.

 

Nadine is an Erasmus student from Germany. She is studying Social Science in Limerick for two semesters. She loves to work with people, do sports and explore Ireland.

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: http://www.ulsites.ul.ie/mlal/ul-languages-week-2016

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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.

How my time on Erasmus made me feel more independent

By Anna Henderson

A mandatory part of BA New Media and English is the opportunity to study abroad for a semester/academic year in another university under Erasmus +. Erasmus is an EU funded programme that allows 200,000 students study abroad every year. UL is one of over 240 European Universities in the Erasmus network and hundreds of UL students every year take part in this programme.

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I was initially very nervous about the whole Erasmus experience. I wasn’t sure where I wanted to study or if I would enjoy moving to another country for a few months. After visiting Manchester on a weekend break I had fallen in love with the atmosphere of the city and the friendliness of the locals reminded me of home. I was delighted to see that the University of Salford was one of UL’s partner universities.

I chose the university based on their connection with MediaCityUK and their offerings of modules. Although England is so close to Ireland, I was still moving country and it was a daunting task. Two other UL students were also offered places at the University of Salford so none of us were completely on our own.

Manchester is a bustling, lively city with something to do for everyone.

  • Football matches at Old Trafford/The Etihad.
  • Shopping in the Arndale and Trafford Centre.
  • Beautiful restaurants and pubs along the many side streets.
  • Showbiz gossip at the Coronation St Tour.
  • Stunning European style Christmas markets that run right from the end of November through til the end of December.

I was also lucky enough to visit LiverpoolBlackpool and Birmingham during my time there.

The University of Salford itself made their incoming Erasmus students feel very welcome, and to make the most of my Erasmus experience I picked modules that were very different to those offered in UL. ‘The Test of Evil’ in particular was a standout module. We examined three high-profile cases of serial killers in the locality, and even  had a field trip to the local cemetery where some of the victims had been buried. While some of the content was very challenging, it was great to be able to experience different teaching methods to what I was used to. I also had the chance to take a Children’s Literature module that involved studying books such as Winnie the Pooh and an in-depth analysis of Harry Potter.

MediaCityUK is associated with the University of Salford, and this is where some BBC and ITV studios are located. We even got to be audience members for the filming of Celebrity Mastermind 2015 which was an excellent experience.

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I’m very glad that UL has such high emphasis on the Erasmus+ programme. Erasmus is a mandatory element for my course and I’m grateful for this. Had it been optional I’m not sure I would have taken part and would have missed my favourite part of the degree programme so far, and has helped me shape my future as I plan to move back to Manchester after I graduate. Erasmus is a excellent opportunity to become independent, get used to new ways of living as well as making friends all over the world. Erasmus is offered as part of most UL courses and I couldn’t recommend it enough. You’ll never know what’s out there until you try it!

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Anna Henderson is a 4th year New Media & English student at the University of Limerick. Here she writes about her Erasmus experience at the University of Salford in Manchester.

 

Travel opportunities at UL

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By Naomi Ni She

I had Law Plus in UL down as my first choice on the CAO but to be honest, I really had no idea what I wanted to do, so I consider myself lucky that I was handed this as I grew to love the course over the years. In first year I was quite hesitant because I really didn’t know the first thing about law, or what my options would be after the course, or even the difference between a solicitor or a barrister! Then in second year I definitely put more of an effort into the course  and it’s only then really that I found I enjoyed the course. I also spent a lot of second year organising my third year.

I have a HUGE passion for travelling and will get on a plane whenever the opportunity arises. So I organised a J1 with USIT in the square in UL and jetted of to Arizona & Las Vegas for the summer where I was fortunate enough to organise work in small law firms. We get to choose in second year whether we will do co-op or Erasmus in 3rd year. Of course, due to my passion for travelling I chose Erasmus, and out of the options I was given I chose to do it in Cyprus, because it was a country I had never been to and new nothing about..except I knew it was sunny. So after my fantastic 3 months on a J1 in America, I had 2 weeks at home before flying off to Nicosia, in Cyprus, so it was a bit chaotic but in fairness, UL made the whole thing so easy to organise, even from America.

Once I got to Cyprus I was excited. I had organised accommodation on my own because the few options that were given didn’t look to great on the websites. Once I got to Nicosia I realized the places were lovely and they just weren’t too great at advertising on the internet. Anyways, it didn’t matter because I liked the accommodation I had sorted and it was only a 2 minute walk from the college and a 75c bus ride to Nicosia city centre which was good for shopping down Ledras in the old town. I was also lucky enough to meet one of the best lecturers I had ever come across in Nicosia. Although there were ups and downs to my time in Nicosia, I’m glad UL gave me the opportunity to go and learn more from another culture.

Now I’m in my final year. Although there is a lot of pressure with college work, about what to do next, whether or not to apply to firms for work etc. I’m glad that I chose to study in UL because there’s so many advantages to it, like the huge campus where you often see people playing frizby or just tanning when the sun peeps out, or even to go for a walk around down by the river after a busy day. And what I loved most about my time in UL so far is that it gave me the opportunity to do what I love best which is travel.

Untitled design (21)My name is Naomi. I’m a final year Law Plus student in UL. I chose Irish as my Plus because I’m from Ventry in west Kerry so I’m a native Irish speaker and always enjoyed studying the language in school.

 

My adventure of a lifetime

By Muireann Murtagh

Despite the long journey that divides my two homes (I’m from Longford), I am so happy to study in UL. I really enjoy my course, in which I focus on French and Spanish, because it is everything I ever hoped it would be. It has given me the chance to work in Paris and to study in Spain, it has given me amazing friends and incredible memories, it’s challenging and it pushes me to work hard and learn constantly. It’s exactly what I wanted.

This time four years ago, I was preparing for a journey to UL for one of the open days. My parents, who met at UL and who had brought me here on previous journeys to Limerick, drove down with me one Saturday morning in October. My first impression was, “Wow, it’s really brown.” My second impression was simply, “Wow.” We walked around campus, we attended some course talks, I collected a prospectus and a few information leaflets, and I looked around at the people who were my potential classmates and friends. I was far too shy to speak to anyone. No-one from my school was even considering coming to UL. Nevertheless, the course was perfect, the university was beautiful, and the city was cosy – what more could I want?

Then, I didn’t even know all the other wonderful things about UL and Limerick. It took a few weeks to settle in, but the things that helped me were such small, simple little actions. I started going for coffee with people from my course, who turned into my best friends. I joined a host of clubs and societies, and the people I met there turned into more wonderful friends. I pushed myself to venture outside my comfort zone – and soon enough I was wearing a onesie outside the library, in the middle of the day, standing with two fellow International Society committee members who were dressed as animals, and we were offering free hugs to students in order to encourage them to vote in the student referendum. Soon, I was seeing faces I recognised and remembering names. In a matter of weeks, UL changed from a university into a community, and I loved it.

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Morning mist on the Shannon, seen from the Living Bridge

My year abroad was an incredible adventure, full of travelling and exploring. I became an honorary Parisienne and Salamantina, walked every inch of Paris and tried as many varieties of macaron that I could, fell in love with the cobbled streets and living history of Salamanca, and promptly infuriated my friends and family with stories that started “When I was in Paris/Salamanca/Toledo/Madrid/Frankfurt/Berlin/Milan…” (Warning alert here – if you’re going on Erasmus, it’ll happen to you! I ended up telling people that I couldn’t help it if I had had an amazing year, and sorry-not-sorry for telling cool stories.

UL is awesome, I’m so incredibly glad that I came here, and if you do… you’re in for the adventures of a lifetime.

muireannMy name is Muireann Murtagh, and I am a fourth-year student of Applied Languages. I am 21 and I am from Longford. Despite the long journey that divides my two homes, I am so happy to study in UL. I really enjoy my course, in which I focus on French and Spanish, because it is everything I ever hoped it would be. It has given me the chance to work in Paris and to study in Spain, it has given me amazing friends and incredible memories, it’s challenging and it pushes me to work hard and learn constantly. It’s exactly what I wanted.

Why choose UL?

By Ciara Larkin

For those of you who are still in secondary school, and are considering coming to UL in September, I can’t encourage you enough. Being from Limerick (but really from Clare), I wasn’t too eager or excited to come to UL because it was so close to home, but I don’t regret my decision for a second. UL is without a doubt the best university in Ireland. It has such a beautiful campus, a diverse variety of Clubs and Socs, a great student support system and an extremely friendly atmosphere – no matter where on campus you are. Because UL is the youngest University in Ireland it’s also the most modern. This applies not only to the architecture and the courses available, but also to the vibe around the college. The lecturers in UL are all down to earth, and the relationship between lecturers and students like that of peers. Although UL has more than 13,000 students, every single one of those students is a part of the UL family. You’d be hard pressed to find anyone in UL who didn’t feel at home.

If you’ve been at UL Open Day, you’ve experienced just how great UL can be, and hopefully we’ll see your face next September!

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Hot Air Balloon at this years Open Day

Co – op:

As I said I’m on co-op at the moment, and although it’s great to have a break from studying and stressing about exams, it’s also kind of scary being out in the real world. I was working in a law firm during the summer, but I’m lucky enough to be back on UL turf again working as the PVA Administrator. The co-op programme in UL is honestly one of the best things about the university. I know that it causes anyone who doesn’t have a QCA of 4.0 a crazy amount of anxiety, but my advice would be not to stress, because it all falls into place.

Erasmus:

I’ll be heading on Erasmus in January, to Radboud University in the Netherlands. Despite having lived in the Holland until I was 3, and downloading Duolingo, the extent of my Dutch is “De meisjes lezen de krant” which means “the girls read the newspaper” – an expression I’m sure I will use daily come January. I plan on writing plenty of posts while I’m there, so if you’re thinking of going on Erasmus, stay tuned to this blog to get the inside scoop.

Anyway, that’s it from me, keep an eye on the blog for more posts from my fellow ambassadors.

profoHiya! I’m Ciara, and I’m a Law Plus Student at the University of Limerick. I’m in third year, and I’ve been on co-op since the start of the summer. This blog is just so you can get to know me a little better, but stay tuned for some more interesting ones about my life as a UL student! I’m from a small village in Clare but I tell everyone I’m from Limerick because I went to school there, and that’s sometimes too much for people’s brains to handle. I am a huge fan of Lana Del Rey and cheese, and my talents include watching entire seasons of series in less than 24 hours, sleeping through the 20 alarms I set every morning, and eating excessive amounts of cheese. In my spare time I volunteer, sing, go online shopping for things I’ll never be able to afford, and I eat cheese…