So, you’re thinking of studying abroad on a student exchange but don’t know whether to take the plunge or not? You’ve come to the right place!
If you’re anything like me, I was desperate to do some travelling during summer breaks from uni but with girly holidays looming and needing to work part-time to save, it didn’t quite happen as I’d planned. So, as I’m sure you can imagine, when the opportunity arose to study abroad for 4.5 months during my third year at university, I jumped at the chance!
Hopefully my experience will help you in making the decision on whether to do a university exchange or not…
Let me start from the beginning…
Like I was, you’ll probably have lots of questions running through your mind like; where should I study? Should I go on my own or with uni friends? What if I don’t meet anybody, or what if I go and don’t like it? How much money will I need etc, etc.
It may seem pretty obvious to say but try to do some research before deciding where you’d like to study as, for the duration you are there, this will become your new home – exciting times!
At first, I originally looked to study in Alicante, although it turned out that too many students had already applied for this destination, meaning that I had to reconsider my options! I eventually decided that a quaint little place called Huelva (situated in the SW of Spain) would better suit me and I’m so glad that I had the opportunity to live and experience the culture there.
Whilst there are mixed views over the benefits of travelling and studying alone and/or with friends, I travelled with three friends from my university which, for me, was so fun! We all had our ups and downs but having known each other for the past 3 years meant that we were there for each other and could share our experiences together (I know how cheesy this must be sounding right now but bear with me…). We laughed about how awful our memories were when trying to remember the Spanish we’d learned in secondary school; we cried about the thought of having to stay in a hostel if we didn’t manage to get a flat; we danced on nights out where we drank the half-glass spirit measures (typical Spanish, right?) and we bickered about little things when we were missing home. But all-in-all, travelling with friends only made the experience so much better! If you’re reading this and you’re plans are to go alone, don’t freak out! We met lots of people who went alone, both from our own home-university and also from abroad and they equally loved it!
There’s definitely a LOT to take in and organise when you’re planning on studying abroad and I was very lucky that the co-ordinators from my home-university were extremely efficient and determined to get the ball rolling on a lot of the elements, meaning I had a very structured application process and all documentation was, more or less, taken care of. If you’re worried about any aspect of your trip, don’t be afraid to approach staff at your university for help – if they can assist you in any way, they will!
Equally, in Huelva the Erasmus exchange staff who work at Huelva University were also extremely helpful — offering to contact landlords to help find accommodation quicker, organising activities specifically for exchange students and genuinely being on-hand whenever their help was needed.
There is soo much more that I could share with you, but I think I’d be verging on the short novel territory, so I’ll stop for now but please feel free to drop me an email if you have any other questions you’d like to ask me about my experience, or have any general thoughts, interests or worries about planning your Erasmus exchange.
All that’s left to be said really is to live it up and enjoy every minute of your trip! It might seem scary at first but you’ll be glad you took the plunge!