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Leslie Gilmour

Why Spend an Erasmus Semester or Year Abroad

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There are so many benefits to spending a semester or year abroad. Not only will you get some amazing shots for your Instagram, but you’ll meet new people, eat new foods, and gain countless experiences that wouldn’t be possible if you were still in your home country. 

People always say “do it while you’re young” and this is a perfect example. If you don’t spend time abroad now, you will likely never get the chance. In a few years’ time, you’ll be graduated from uni, have a solid career, and be on your way to starting a family. 

Sure, you may have a part-time job now, or a significant other; but these aren’t good enough reasons to skip out on doing an Erasmus semester abroad. I spent one year at Vienna University while at university, this was before I went on to do more study with the OU. 

I picked Vienna simply because I could study in English, but for me, it was a great choice.  The summer before starting I walked the Camino de Santiago and met my now current other half who is from Prague.  Commuting between Vienna and Prague by train was easy. At the end of the year, I hired a courier service to move all my things back to Ireland, where I was based at the time.

Find Yourself

Going abroad gives you the opportunity to actually find yourself. Think about it; you won’t know anyone, and no one has any expectations of you. You can be whoever you want to be. If you have always been known as “Shy little Kate, from Bristol”, you can make an extra effort to be outgoing, and try new things. Even if you have never been much of a writer, now is a perfect opportunity to keep track of your thoughts.  Hold on to your memories by keeping a journal to reflect on your time, and the changes that occur while you’re away. Spending an Erasmus semester is a great alternative if you didn’t get to experience a gap year. 

Make Connections

Spending an Erasmus semester abroad can have many benefits; socially and professionally. You can make many work connections overseas that you would have never met if you didn’t take the leap. It isn’t rare to find that the company you worked for overseas to offer you a job when you graduate. You will also meet so many different people, from different walks of life, who knows what doors might open!

Better Yourself

Not only will you find yourself on your Erasmus semester abroad, you will also better yourself. There are ridiculous amounts of ways to spend your time overseas, and almost all the ways include a way to make yourself better, whether that be in a physical way, mental way, or to set you up for the future. 

You will pick up on new cultures and languages, not only in the new place that you’re living, but also anywhere else you’re living. You will be so close to other countries, it would be a shame not to save some money before hand to visit the neighbouring countries and see what they have to offer. You may find that you enjoy a new sport that is popular in your country, which will keep you fit and you’ll have a hobby for life. How great will it to say, “Oh yes, I picked up cycling in Denmark, there is just no other way to get around.” 

It Can Open Opportunities

By jumping into the deep end and moving to another country, you will have many opportunities open. For example, on your resume, employers will be very impressed by your ability to pick up and move to a country where you likely don’t know the language, or anyone living there. This will show prospective employers your courage, resistance and adaptability. Also, any odd jobs you pick up to make ends meet show your diversity of skills on a resume. 

Ask any HR executive, a popular question in interviews for any position will go something along these lines... “Tell us about a difficult situation you overcame, and how you managed to overcome it.” Instead of having no idea what to say, you will now have countless stories to show your fast-thinking and ability to overcome hardships. Maybe you’ll tell them the time you got sick in Spain, and the only doctor on call didn’t speak English, so you had to explain using your “Spanglish”. Or how you once ended up on the wrong train in France and ended up 100 kilometres from where you were meant to be with no cell phone! Living abroad will provide plenty of hardships, or uncomfortable situations, but your reaction to them is everything. 

Just remember, no matter how bad it is right now, it will probably be a funny story you’re telling your host family over dinner in a week or two. Not only are there professional opportunities, think about how many people you will meet! You’ll make tons of new friends, and maybe even a significant other. The best part is, you’ll be meeting people from all over the world, which provides the perfect opportunity to visit an exotic place later on- you have to visit your friends right?

Financial Support

This one may surprise you, but now is the perfect time to spend a semester abroad, because every Erasmus student receives a grant. How much will depend on your home country and where you’re planning to go, but every little bit helps. 

While it won’t cover your entire semester, it is certainly more than if you decide to plan a trip when you’re out of school. If you do an Erasmus work placement, you will receive the grant money AND a salary. Not only this, but it is so easy to make extra money in your spare time. Teaching English, some teacher training helps, interpreting or freelance translating is all ways to earn extra income as well. Lastly, depending on where you’re from, you may get a great exchange rate, or find that the cost of living is lower than in your home country.

So what are you waiting for?

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