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Erasmus/year abroad - anyone with experience of it?

(44 Posts)
Dunlurking Sun 15-Nov-15 10:03:39

Ds is applying for a course where all the unis offer a year abroad and it is compulsory at 2. Could anyone recommend particular Erasmus destinations or European/USA/Australian unis that their dcs have been to? It might help his decision making.

I'm feeling a bit nervous about it inview of IS attacks in Paris and wondered if people thought some destinations/countries might be safer than others in the future........ French is, in fact, his best language confused

PattyPenguin Sun 15-Nov-15 10:51:31

If the course is for a language degree, a year abroad is generally mandatory.

Be aware that you as a family will probably have to fund a year abroad outside the area covered by Erasmus, such as Australia or the USA (and remember that flights there are going to be much more expensive.)

There are other courses where you can choose to do one or two semesters abroad. My daughter did an arts degree and went to Germany for 6 months, to a smaller city in Bavaria where the Erasmus grant covered pretty much everything. A friend's daughter did a biology degree and chose to do a whole academic year in Denmark.

Whether a youngster will enjoy time abroad depends to a large extent on his/her personality and attitude (and, I have to say, on the parents' attitiude). Both the girls above had travelled before, with friends and school, though they differ in personality - one is very outgoing, the other much quieter but determined to push herself to do things. They both got a lot out of their experience (my daughter enjoyed her stay so much she was in tears about leaving) and it does look good on the CV.

As to safety and security, I'm afraid pretty much anywhere is a potential target. The UK is as likely as anywhere in Europe to be targeted, if not more so. I think you have to follow advice and cross your fingers. That's true anywhere and in any case in terms of avoiding crime / personal assault / getting into trouble with the authorities.

Kennington Sun 15-Nov-15 10:54:14

I did it in Paris as part of a science degree
Paris is generally safe in the centre
As a female it was a little but tiring as women get more hassle but nothing too intimidating
It is great for a 2nd language - thoroughly recommend

asilverraindrop Sun 15-Nov-15 11:02:36

My daughter is currently on her year abroad (languages degree) - she spent the summer working in France, is currently studying in Russia, and will be working in South America next year (3 language degree). She has found the first couple of weeks in each place tough, but after that each one has been an amazing experience, so far, and I can see her growing and maturing from it each time she comes home. As for safety: I agree with PattyPenguin - any big city might be a target for terrorism, accidents can happen anywhere; with modern communications I can see when my daughter was last on FB and can message her and get an instant response (if she can be bothered) whether she's in Russia or down the road. It's a wonderful opportunity. One thing I would say is that he will be doing the year abroad 3 years after he applies to uni, and so the options available when he chooses it may have changed from the ones advertised now. Therefore I'd suggest choosing the course he likes most overall, rather than fixating on one particular placement.

SquirrelledAway Sun 15-Nov-15 11:52:51

DH got his masters dissertation transferred to Coimbra in Portugal, and had a wonderful time. It was a science degree, involved fieldwork and lab work, his supervisor spoke some English but the lab assistants didn't so he managed to pick up enough Portuguese to get by. Coimbra is a beautiful city and he got a lot from the experience, I think his costs were fairly well covered and there was plenty of help with accommodation etc.

Dunlurking Sun 15-Nov-15 12:00:22

Thanks Squirrelled, silverrain, Kennington, and PattyP. Really helpful to hear. So much useful there, in particular the thought that we are talking of a placement 3 years away that could be somewhere not currently advertised (*asilverraindrop*).

It is a humanities degree, not language but I think there is a compulsory language module but the year abroad doesn't have to relate to the module IYSWIM. Thanks for all your thoughts and any more smile

MultishirkingAgain Sun 15-Nov-15 15:19:08

Frankly, I think the fear about Paris is a complete overreaction, sorry. One may as well say, don't go to the UK because of various bombings in London, from the Troubles in the 19670s through to 7/7. Or don't go to New York, or don't go to Sydney ... this is the world we live in. we could just stop air strikes on other countries

If his best language is French, he should go to France. There's a lot of France other than Paris! The year abroad, in another language, is one of the most game-changing things a student can do. I see the change in outlook, maturity and seriousness when they come back.

MyFriendsCallMeOh Sun 15-Nov-15 15:48:26

I did an Erasmus course in Murcia, Spain in 1993 as well as two work placements in France (Grenoble and Lyons), was the best experience of my life. Have him speak to the Erasmus coordinator at his uni and explain the different options available and how they are different to one another. I chose Murcia over Barcelona for example as it was a smaller city and fewer of us went, also it was more Castilian Spanish than Catalan which was a priority for me at the time. Also there were only 2 hours of lectures a day and I had two good friends who went to Murcia too, so that is a big factor in deciding! I studied French and Spanish at uni, this was by far the best way of learning languages, it's a brilliant opportunity.

ThenLaterWhenItGotDark Sun 15-Nov-15 15:52:06

I did the best 6 months of my (long) life in Salamanca, and the worst in Brussels. Despite the Brussels hiccup it was still an amazing and life changing experience.

Dunlurking Mon 16-Nov-15 09:38:07

Thanks MyFriends and ThenLater for such positive endorsements.

Fair enough Multishirking. Dh and I grew up overseas in the middle of terrorist wars and both suffered significant threats and near misses, and we have have visited other terrorist afflicted countries. Ds hasn't - he's always lived in a little rural village. I worry how he would manage. Mothers are allowed to do that. He had a game plan of a possible gap year where he has a very good chance of a job at Disneyland Paris. I do feel ambivalent about that as we are talking of 12 months from now.

KenDoddsDadsDog Mon 16-Nov-15 09:41:10

I went to Barcelona and Granada on mine , Spanish with Catalan. Had a great year .

AnnaBegins Mon 16-Nov-15 09:47:01

I did Erasmus as part of a language degree in France. He needn't be in Paris if that's the issue.

Erasmus places are usually limited and fought over. In my case we queued from 6am for an 8am sign up and even then I ended up on the waiting list.

In terms of cost, Erasmus scheme will pay tuition fees and a grant for the year, whereas otherwise students usually have to pay half fees to the uk uni that year, plus the foreign uni fees.

However you don't need to be on a scheme to do a year abroad, he could apply direct to the place he wants to study/work for that year. If he doesn't have to study at a uni that year then the options are boundless, British council teaching for example.

Dunlurking Mon 16-Nov-15 09:51:46

Thanks KenDodds I'd love him to go either of those places for me to descend on him for a short break Anna that is really helpful to know about the queueing, costs etc. Will pass it all on.

Dunlurking Mon 16-Nov-15 09:58:18

Cost of living wise, can anyone say where was particularly good and where bad? Was Spain cheapish? Was Brussels expensive? How was France? Anyone been to the States or Australia (Melbourne)?

KenDoddsDadsDog Mon 16-Nov-15 10:16:15

I was there between '91 and '93 so couldn't comment now but Spain is more expensive comparatively than it was. One of my colleague did his Erasmus in Madrid two years ago and said that things like good food , rent are still decent rates. It's also easy to travel internally and to see a bit of the country. Heat , skiing and rain , has it all! You also have a very wide choice of cheap flights.

Mindgone Mon 16-Nov-15 10:16:25

Friend's DS is spending a year in Morocco at the moment and is having a great time! Very cheap too, rent is something like £120 a month including a cleaning lady!!

MultishirkingAgain Mon 16-Nov-15 10:49:01

Australia is now very expensive, and that's before you factor in flights. Frankly, why go there or the US if you're studying languages? Take the opportunity for linguistic & cultural immersion. Both the US and Australia are close-ish to UK culture, and won't o fimmersive learning experience of a non-English speaking country.

And they're both easily travelled to for a backpacking style adventure after graduation.

UhtredRagnorsson Mon 16-Nov-15 13:16:24

One of the places DD1 has applied to (and for which she has an (astounding) offer) has a year at a conservatoire abroad. If she opts for that, in the end, she is currently considering the Netherlands or Stockholm. Both very attractive destinations for her specialism.

CandyCaneCottage Mon 16-Nov-15 14:51:08

I went to stony brook in Long Island it was a bit far from Manhattan, but a top 1% school globally. A lot of students go home on the weekends but there was plenty of organised activity, more than I saw here. If money is an issue Europe has the obvious advantage that they actually pay you to stay in the EU and i can't remember the figure but I remember thinking it was quite a lot they were paying

Dunlurking Mon 16-Nov-15 15:52:28

CandyCane when you say pay to stay in Europe do you mean the Erasmus thing? The US places include William and Mary, and Vassar, which would be a bargain year compared to their true annual fee costs.

Uhtred how wonderful for your dd. It sounds like she is getting some very exciting offers. Netherlands is definitely on offer at several of the places ds has applied , with directly relevant courses taught in english.

Multishirking we have family in Oz, but no money there. He is keen, we aren't.....

Mindgone is that friend's ds on a uni course? Definitely interesting because of the french and the excuse for us to visit (dh and I met there)

KenDodd thanks for the feedback on cost of living in Spain. He has a learnt little spanish in the past and would happily learn more.

Mindgone Mon 16-Nov-15 18:00:44

Yes, it's part of his uni course, he's doing Middle Eastern studies with Arabic.

fussychica Mon 16-Nov-15 19:09:49

DS did a 3 language degree but could already speak one of the languages fluently so was barred from doing a placement theregrin. He did a 3 month internship in Hamburg followed by 9 months working on a British Council placement at a boarding school in the French Basque country when he had picked Bordeaux! It was very rural and he had an hour train journey to the coast to socialize with other assistants. Despite this he describes it as the best year of his life. However, he found France incredibly expensive and went over the border into Spain to shop. The cost of living in Spain is lower than the UK (except electricity), especially drinking/eating out.

KenDoddsDadsDog Mon 16-Nov-15 19:30:03

Oh and if he ends up in Granada they have free tapas with drinks - cheap way to go out and feed yourself !

Dunlurking Tue 17-Nov-15 09:23:15

*fussychica8 thanks for posting about your ds's expereince in France, especially interesting about going to Spain to shop cheaper.....

KenDodds that sounds good for me visiting, never mind him.

gonegrey56 Tue 17-Nov-15 10:25:42

My dd is currently on her year abroad, doing a 6 month internship in Paris, and going on to Italy next. Just a word of warning that her University did nothing to help her find her placement, and has been useless overall. You need to be resourceful to track down opportunities, and living in Paris is expensive ( Euros 1200 per month for rent in a grotty flat). She still has to pay her UK (RG) University £1500 for "tuition" for this year (what tuition?).
That said, she is now bilingual and her actual work placement has been brilliant, really valuable experience and I am sure will help her in the longer term with future recruitment opportunities. And despite the events of the last few days, she is defiant and determined to stay on until her contract ends.

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