Reflecting on my Erasmus semester abroad Summer 2018

This post will reflect on my semester studying abroad in Cologne, Germany, and encourage those considering studying abroad to take the plunge. I studied English Literature at Universität zu Köln on the Erasmus+ programme in my second semester of second year, as a voluntary part of my three-year English and History undergraduate degree. You can find my post on learning German here. After my first month living in Cologne, I wrote a post on the main culture shocks, which you can find here. Despite those differences from my home life, sometimes exciting and others simply frustrating, my five months on the Erasmus+ programme were full of new experiences, travel, and lovely friends. Although my stay was not without its difficulties, a natural occurrence when moving your life to a new country for half a year (more to follow in another post), here are the most rewarding highlights from my semester abroad.

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Top tips for a stress-free Erasmus semester abroad

Heading into the new year, in which many of you may be preparing to jet off on your Erasmus or study abroad, here are three important things to plan ahead. Following my previous post reflecting on my Erasmus semester abroad, here are my top tips for making your trip as stress-free and organised as possible, so you can spend more time enjoying the (cliché but true) experience of a lifetime. Continue reading

Year abroad blog: Angela Merkel and the cockroach problem

The first twenty-four hours were both terrifying and exhilarating. There was an adrenaline-fueled blur of being collected at the airport past nightfall by a complete stranger, taken to my accommodation where I was then presented with my bedroom, bathroom and kitchen; given my keys and a complementary packet of tea “to welcome the English”, and finally left completely alone.

Stepping out the front gate onto a sandy, palm-lined street the following morning, it all hit me. This was it. I had finally arrived. Dakar was home for the next four months, and I was completely on my own. There was no one there to hold my hand, tell me what to do or help me cross the road. It was completely up to me to function in this brand-new part of the globe. How on earth was I supposed to find breakfast?

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A year on from my year abroad – tips to those heading out and those coming back

A little over a year ago, I was just heading home from St John’s, Newfoundland, my last stop of a month travelling coast-to-coast across Canada after finishing my year abroad. Now I’ve just received my results from my third year, I have time to reflect again on my year abroad and the following year. Here are a few bits of advice to anyone heading out on a year abroad this year, and those now returning. Continue reading

The Bolehills Roly-Poly

Besides being my favourite park in Sheffield, Bolehills was made for Roly-Polies. The increasing gradient of the slope that encases the children’s playground was designed for them. Laying on your side: your eyes gorging on the panorama of reservoirs, peaks and forests; your nose grazing on the post-rain smell of petrichor, it only takes a little push, and suddenly the sky and earth become a wheeling blur around you, your pulse quickens, until suddenly: gasps and chuckles competing in your throat, you find yourself spread-eagled on the ground, waiting for the spiralling earth and sky to disentangle themselves for long enough for you to stagger up the slope and repeat the entire dizzying process.

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Hostel living and washing up lessons

I’ve lived abroad before so I wasn’t nervous about coming to Madrid and knew I would settle in quickly. I should, however, have prepared a little more before I came. I arrived with the intention of spending a night in a hostel then registering the next day at uni and finding a flat. I had used Uniplaces online before I came and found a cheap room near the centre.  In my naive state I applied a week before assuming it was a case of processing details and it would be mine but, no, they rejected me, so I reapplied unsuccessfully three more times until I kind of got the message I wasn’t welcome. Continue reading

A study year abroad: it’s the most wonderful time of the year!

Hi, it’s Josephine and I’m back! It’s now December!

The weather is turning. Currently, my friends on the Gold Coast are posting glorious pictures on Facebook – I’m beyond jealous. Here a gust of wind will literally knock you off your bike. And to top it off, my exam is cancelled because of the severe snow – fingers crossed my flight on Friday won’t be. It doesn’t help that you can never dress quite warm enough for cycling in the freezing cold – all while trying to achieving the balance needed so you don’t turn up to a lecture in too many layers of clothing, sweating like a pig.

… Anyway, here’s my life update: Continue reading