During their time at university, some students will be lucky to have the chance to study abroad and, as daunting as it may seem, it is without doubt one of the best opportunities.
I have recently returned to the UK after studying French Law in Strasbourg (France) and although I was terrified beforehand, it turned out to be one of the best things I have ever done. Not only does the Erasmus Study Year Abroad allow you to learn more about another culture, the time away in another country provides students with the chance to develop their confidence, interpersonal skills and language proficiency. Nine months away from one’s comfort zone allows for a definite change in character; for the better: I was able to increase my independence and self-assurance.
Erasmus Students (depending on university degree course) will be able to choose from a wide range of countries in which to study including Denmark, France, Spain, Australia, USA and Italy. A Study Year Abroad looks fantastic on a CV and employers look highly at such academic experiences.
In France, lectures for each module are three hours long, and can start and finish anywhere between 8am and 8pm, which takes getting used to. For my course, all lectures and exams were in French, which is a scary thought but similar lectures at my university in England helped prepare me for this. However, for other degree courses, the modules taken during the Study Year Abroad will be taught and examined in English.
Although the education system in France is extremely different to that in England, the Erasmus Study Year Abroad is filled with meeting new people from all over the world and learning how to live in a different environment. Being an Erasmus student means you can venture outside of your normal day-to-day living and experience life in a way not many people ever will. To live abroad, whether for three months or nine, requires courage, a sense of adventure and enthusiasm; the people you meet during the study year and the connections you make help to soften the blow of living on the other side of the pond.
One amazing positive aspect of an Erasmus year is the travelling opportunity; I have been able to visit Italy, Switzerland and Austria, not to mention walk to Germany (Strasbourg being very close to the France-Germany border), all of which were fantastic; the memories will never be forgotten, especially considering the copious amount of photos that have been taken!
A useful addition to being an Erasmus Student is the Erasmus Grant awarded by the British Council to each student; we found living in Strasbourg was very expensive and although the amounts of the grant vary from year to year, they are extremely generous and undoubtedly help with living costs (and flights home!).
It is almost certain that you will have a few low moments along the way, missing family and friends, and home comforts, but the experience has been amazing and thanks to social inventions such as Skype and Facebook, it has been easier to stay in touch with everyone during the past nine months. Although the year abroad took me away from my friends at university in England, I have made some incredible new friends with who I hope I will remain in contact for many years to come. I would do it all over again in a heartbeat and I envy the students who will be taking my place this September.