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Erasmus

The ERASMUS Programme – studying in Europe and more

Erasmus is the E.U’s flagship education and training programme enabling 200,000 students to study and work abroad each year. In addition, it funds co-operation between higher education institutions across Europe. The programme not only supports students, but also professors and business staff who want to teach abroad, as well as helping university staff to receive training.

Many studies show that a period spent abroad not only enriches students’ lives in the academic and professional fields, but can also improve language learning, intercultural skills, self-reliance and self-awareness. The Erasmus experience gives students a better sense of what it means to be independent and a citizen in another country. In addition, many employers highly value new students living abroad, which increases the student’s employability and job prospects.

Student Lifestyle:

You will probably spend 50% of your time studying and 50% discovering the Erasmus Universe. Who’s to know whether you will spend more money on study books than on parties, traveling and adventures? It is all part of the Erasmus mystery. You will find friends from European countries wherever you stay.

Friday pasta, Saturday croissants and Sunday a little treat in Amsterdam perhaps? Hop on a train during the weekends to a different country as the transport is nothing in comparison to Irish prices you will be shocked and amazed. Whether you are spending time on a beach or on a snowboard you must be open minded which will result in your year abroad a success.

Make Preparations:

Step 1: Before you leave Ireland, research the area you will be living in. Find a room in student residences, private flats, shared flat, because living in a hotel is really expensive. For most residences there is a deadline so you must be organized, having a roof over your head is the main thing.

Step 2: Prepare and update your C.V. Be on the look out for a part time job in a bar or waiting in restaurants as this will increase your language skills, you will be interacting with new and different people, customer interaction and make friends through work also it will be very helpful to earn a bit of pocket money for the week ahead.

Step 3: Browse your University web-site and familiarize yourself with the type of classes and which ones you would like to take as you will have exams at the end of the term.

Step 4: Book your flights and train tickets to your destination. Make a list of important things you will need i.e. clothes, stationary (dictionaries, notepads etc.) medications, money, any particular types of credit cards or visa cards as they are recognized world-wide.

Step 5: Organize a fare-well party for yourself as you will not see your family or close friends for some months. You will continue the party at your new home where ever it may be.

For more information click: http://www.citizensinformation.ie/en/education/european_education_programmes/erasmus.

Erasmus Experiences

Stephie’s experience in Gandia…

Gandia is a small town one hour south of Valencia in Spain. The area is really nice. The college is only a five minute walk from the beach which is gorgeous and really clean. The area is quiet enough with the college only having about 2000 students.  Most of the places here close for siesta which can be very annoying  Siesta’s take place between between the hours of 2 and 5. You should always make sure to have plenty of water as you can´t drink the tap water.

Cost of Living

Living over here is relatively cheap. I am living in a three bed, two bath apartment with a balcony and pool. It costs only 150 each a month between three people. Our apartment is in the perfect location also. We are right in the middle of the college and the beach and close to all the shops. Everything is only a short walking distance away. We also received out first electricity bill for the first four weeks and it was only 11 euro between three of us. There´s no heating in the house so we have to use electric radiators all the time and you have to turn on the boiler for an hour to get hot water so we were really shocked at how cheap the bill was.

Food in the supermarket is cheap as well. I wouldn´t be great at knowing the price of bread and milk but what I do know is that a litre carton of wine is only 98 cent and six mini cans of Heineken are 3.90. You can spend very little on food if you have to. Some other prices include:

5L water – 55 cent

Mince – 2.50

3 chicken fillets – 3.46

Rashers – 1.09

Packet of ham – 1 euro

5Kg potatoes – 4.50

Pasta – 96 cent

Dozen eggs – 1.26

5 onions – 1 euro

Fruits and vegetables are relatively cheap depending on how much you buy because they are measured on weight. That´s basically all the food I live off. Other things like shampoo and shower gel are 1 euro for a liter which lasts forever. Eating out is also cheap. We got a two course meal for three people with a bottle of wine for 31 euro.

Buses to the train station or to Lidl are €1.30 each way and €1.40 on a Sunday. You will have to go to Lidl to get proper rashers and chicken fillets like the ones at home.  The train into Valencia costs €4.40 each way. Valencia is a bit more expensive but it has more recognized restaurants like KFC, TGI Fridays, Tony Romo´s and Starbucks. All of these are the same price as at home. You can also join the gym here for €20 a month.

Language barrier

Coming over here I presumed everyone would be able to speak English but I was very wrong. Very very few people people speak English and if they do it’s normally bad English. So that mixed with my very bad Spanish makes things very difficult. I´ve managed to master the words “Hola” and “Por Favor” but after that I´m pretty much lost. I’ve learned a few words here and there but I can´t form a sentence in Spanish. We try to get by with making hand gestures, so far we´re surviving!

In college we are only able to take three classes in English, because we don´t speak Spanish we have to take these classes even though they are useless and we are learning nothing from them. However the whole point of going on Erasmus is to do nothing right?

Before we came over we were promised by the international office over here that everything would be in English for us but when we got here it was a completely different story. We were not even given our timetable in English. We were expected to go on to the college website (which is completely in Spanish) and find our timetables (which were also completely in Spanish) and then try and figure out where our classes where. It was a disaster.

For the first two weeks of college it was very frustrating trying to find out what was going on and where we were supposed to be. However soon enough we met some friends from other countries who could speak more Spanish than us so they could help us. We received no real help from the college. On my first impressions I would have said to only go on Erasmus to a country where you´re guaranteed they can speak your language or where you can speak theirs but after a while you get used to it. The college only offers a basic Spanish class for two weeks in January that costs €300 and after that they only offer intermediate or advanced throughout the year.

You can also try learning Spanish through a tandem partner where they teach you Spanish and you teach them English. At this stage we´re too used to doing nothing it seems like such an effort to have to meet with a tandem partner once a week! We learn a few words from TV ads but thank god settings on the TV let us watch TV shows in English otherwise they are dubbed in Spanish!

ESN (Erasmus student network) Office

The ESN office is like the students union that we have at home except it´s specifically for Erasmus students. For €10 you can get an ESN card which gives you a discount in bars restaurants, gyms, tattoo places and hairdressers. So in that sense it´s a very Erasmus friendly area. The ESN also organize trips away. We have a trip to Ibiza coming up in May for 6 days for only €187. That includes boat over (four hour trip with a party on the boat and a pool) accommodation and entry in nightclubs (Hawaiian party, foam party, water party) over 1000 Erasmus students go and it includes Gandia college and Valencia college.

When we first got here they also organized an Erasmus welcoming dinner for everyone to get to know each other. Nearly every week there´s some sort of night/day event planned. Last week it was a trip to a carnival in the mountains (20,000 people go), with bands playing and everyone goes in fancy dress. It was on from 11p.m. until 7a.m.

Differences between studying in Ireland and Spain

Everyone in Spain is a lot more laid back than in Ireland. The lecturer’s don´t mind if you are late for class or if you skip class to go to the beach. They tell us that they understand that we´re not from countries with a beach or good weather so when the weather is nice we can go to the beach instead! We only have class on a Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday so we basically have Mondays and Thursdays to do what we want. They don´t pile on the work here like they do at home so you don’t have to spend your days off doing work. A lot of the marks over here go for attendance. One of our subjects gives 30% for attendance and only 20% for the final exam so it take a lot of pressure off for exams. Also the lecturers are willing to move the exam times up to accommodate for people who need to go home at the end of May and can´t stay until June. It´s just a lot more relaxed and you never feel under pressure or stressed about work.

Nightlife

The main nights out over here are a Wednesday and Friday. On Wednesday we go to a bar called Varadero that opens until 4a.m. This is where all Erasmus students go on a Wednesday. At the beginning I didn´t know what to think of it. It´s very strange being out in a different country without all your friends from home and trying to meet new people who don´t speak English. I would definitely recommend going on Erasmus. It´s amazing being in a place with nice weather and a beach. It´s definitely better than being at home anyway. You can easily live in a little bubble over here because we can´t understand the Spanish news so we haven´t a clue really what’s going on in the world. You can just ignore it all. If you want to spend a semester doing nothing and meeting so many people from different countries then you should definitely go on Erasmus. It´s an experience and looks great on your CV!

Written by: Seana Henry & Stephie Mc Nally

Proofed by: Dara O’Conor, John Fagan & Emma Duggan

Uploaded by: Emma Duggan

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