Why I recommend a study semester in Europe:

‘Studying abroad is just another year at University, so I’m wasting my time, right?’ Wrong. And here’s 5 reasons why:

 

1.Independence: ‘Nothing screams independence like moving to a European country.’

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One of the biggest skills you’ll gain from studying abroad. Moving to a non English speaking country isn’t for the faint-hearted; not everyone is brave enough to make such a big change, and employers later in life will realise this, it’s something that can really set you apart. Studying in Europe makes you independent in many ways;

  • It gives you time by yourself to really start figuring out who you are away from the comfort of your childhood friends, flatmates and University clique.
  • You rely less on your parents, due to both the physical distance and the cultural differences which means they may not understand the nature of some of your issues.

 

2.Time period: ‘not too long, or too short.’

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Most people automatically rule out going abroad because they don’t think they’d cope well being away from home for so long. I was one of these people until I started thinking about shorter time periods: how I’d feel about a summer abroad, and then a semester abroad. A semester is the perfect amount of time to go abroad for because you’ll be in a mentality where you’ll want to travel and experience as much as you can because you understand your time is limited. Also, unlike with a whole year, for the 4-5 months you’re abroad, things will still feel relatively new and exciting, leaving little time to feel homesick!

 

3.Expanding that skill-set: Organisation, Time Management and of course, Languages.

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Studying in Europe is completely different to studying in the UK;

  • In most European countries, timetable construction is completely down to you; you have to enroll in your own modules ensuring there is no overlapping, that you have the right number of credits and that both your home and placement University approve your selections. This process alone requires you to be extremely organised, helping improve your skill-set from the very beginning.
  • Assessment is normally constant in the form of regular midterms and presentations, giving you the chance to improve upon your time management skills as well as communication and team work.
  • Learning a language is 100 times easier when you’re constantly hearing it around you. It’s not boring like it was at GCSE where you’re sat in a classroom doing lots of grammar. In Madrid I have found that people are patient with me and are happy to see me try, even if it’s not perfect.

 

4.The people: The Highlight

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It’s a lot easier to make friends when you’re studying rather than working abroad; you have opportunities in your classes, your housemates, and societies like the ‘Erasmus Student Network’ where you meet people from all over the world. Not only am I learning a lot about Spanish customs and culture on my placement, but about countries from all over the world, I’ve made friends from Canada, Brazil, Australia, Ireland, France and Germany…

‘I just don’t understand why women need the vote’ – Saudi Arabian student in my Comparative Government Class.

‘Who is the President of the UK?’ – American student in my Comparative Government Class.

‘People from Switzerland are Swedish’ – My unfortunate moment with the Swiss student in my Comparative Government Class.

Needless to say, Comparative Government gets interesting.

 

5.Travelling: ‘the only thing you can buy that makes you richer’

Travel

Your biggest expense with travelling around Europe is getting out of the UK; from there, it’s all about cheap trains and flights and Air BnB to see all of the wonderful things Europe has to offer! Your Erasmus Grant can help cover the cost of getting around, or it can be used for your rent so the money you’ve saved before placement can be put to good use. Furthermore, European countries are within good distance from the UK, so should serious homesickness or an important event require your presence, home is a short plane ride away.

 

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