30 October 2018
What I learnt on my Year Abroad, by Beth Hamilton

Buddy systems 

Both my French and my German university offered Buddy Systems for international students. Some people I knew greatly benefited from such schemes. If you get paired up with an enthusiastic and engaged buddy, it can be a great way of extending your support network or simply getting in contact with more natives. As there is nothing to lose by signing up, I would definitely recommend giving it a go! 

Travel! 

Make the most of the opportunities available to you! In Trier, for example, our student card provided us with free train travel (after having paid a social fee…) in Richtung Koblenz and in Richtung Saarbrücken. My friends and I took advantage of this easy and free means of travel to explore the cities and Dörfer in the surrounding area, from visiting one of the most beautiful castles in Germany to getting a Flixbus from Saarbrücken to travel more cost-effectively to Strasbourg! The Erasmus societies will also have trips on offer to visit nearby cities at a reduced cost and take the chance to visit any friends you have made, either prior to or during your Year Abroad, if they live near to where you are studying!

Don’t worry! You will survive French bureaucracy! I promise…

Before heading out to France, you will be inundated with forms and the documents you will require to complete said forms. Although it all seems a bit overwhelming initially, just follow the steps, take all the forms which are mentioned (even if you don’t think you need them), as well as copies – just in case. The French love paperwork. Even though this seems to inadvertently contradict the fact that the process takes what seems like an eternity to complete, it’s something that you just have to do. You will see the light at the end of the tunnel eventually, trust me. 

Don’t worry! German bureaucracy trumps French bureaucracy every time!

Of course paperwork and documents will pop up regardless of which university you will be attending. However, the German system is less complicated and you will receive emails which will inform you of the emails they will be sending to you with all of the information you require. It’s the same procedure of simply following the bureaucratic process, and it will be straight-forward as long as you keep on top of everything.

Trier – Do the Einführungsseminar! 

The intensive language course offered by Trier is invaluable. Running over the course of three weeks, this Seminar not only involves morning classes every weekday, but also offers excursions, cultural activities and advice regarding German bureaucracy. Depending on your language level, the classes will be of great help or you will find some of the information a tad repetitive. Regardless, everyone learned something of value and the classes allowed our Erasmus family to be born. It gave us all the opportunity to integrate ourselves into a German-speaking environment whilst simultaneously providing us with enough ‘settling-in’ time to explore our surroundings and form friendships before classes began. 

Trust your language competency. 

You are more capable than you believe yourself to be. You are on this degree scheme for a reason and just after a week of speaking the language, your confidence will have improved enormously. 

 

Our MLang students at Lancaster have their own blog, which can be found here. You can read about their experiences on the MLang degree programme.