Summer is approaching and, for a lot of students, that means it’s time to start thinking about what to do on your year abroad. Last year, I was an Erasmus student in Spain and I’m going to share with you five reasons why I chose the Erasmus program.
For anyone who doesn’t know, the Erasmus scheme is a European university exchange scheme, where students from different countries spend a year (or a semester) at a university in another country. I spent my year in Spain because I was studying Spanish, but choosing between a work placement or a university scheme was difficult for me. So, here are 5 reasons why I chose Erasmus, and maybe why you should too!
1. The University Lifestyle
Going from one country to another is difficult enough but to then stop being a student and thrown into the working world? That was just too much change, too quickly, for me. Instead, I opted to keep studying and learning while in Spain, which ultimately meant I could enjoy the various perks of student life (long nights, short days) without being stressed about living in a corporate world. Plus, I had my dissertation to write and the UCM library was invaluable to me that year.
2. The People
With university comes students, which means it’s more likely for you to meet like-minded people. The people studying a particular course or in a particular club are bound to have things in common, and that’s exactly what I found. My closest friends from my Erasmus year were also in a lot of the same classes as me, so we had a lot to discuss when it came to breaking the ice. After that, we managed to stick together through a whole year in a foreign country and still keep in touch. I’d say that’s a pretty solid friendship from a foreign university system.
3. A New Education System
Speaking of which, it’s crucial to remember that the university will not be what you’re used to, which is one of the things that drew me towards Erasmus. Understanding how a country educates its young people is a big help to understanding the way a country works, and why it works in the way that it does. In Spain, the literature exams were based on memory rather than analytical skill, and this could be a reason why Spain is suffering from such a huge brain drain at the moment; young people are moving to countries that encourage critical thought over memory recall. (Obviously this is just my own opinion and not supposed to be taken as absolute fact).
4. ESN – The Erasmus Student Network
The ESN was like a family away from home. They helped to link all of the Erasmus students and I met some really great friends through the network. They facilitate big nights out and trips across the country, as well as offering discounts to various businesses. I really recommend getting involved with them because it’s likely that this is where you’ll meet some of your closest Erasmus friends, and maybe it’ll inspire you to get involved in the Erasmus group at your home university too!
5. The Holidays
Well, this one is selfish and superficial and probably not the most valid one but I had to think about coming home for the holidays, and think about how much time I could take off to see my family and friends back in the UK. And what better holiday periods than those of universities? So sue me, I wanted a long Easter break. But look at all the cool stuff I did that month!
So those were the main points of focus I had for choosing the Erasmus scheme, though there were other factors, like the Erasmus grant meaning I didn’t have to worry too much about finances. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to pop on in the comments section.
Maybe you’ve got another factor I haven’t thought about? Maybe you really didn’t want to study abroad and worked instead? Maybe you studied as a last resort? I’d love to hear your thoughts and stories!