Everything’s (nearly) sorted for your stay in your chosen far-flung destination and you’re fully prepared for fresh and wild experiences, but all of this means NOTHING if no-one else knows about it. Here are a few of the myriad ways you can let the people back home know that you’re having a better time than them, and let's face it, that's one of the best things about going abroad - you get to shout out about it! Read on for some tricks of the trade...
As I have been preparing for my year in Paris, I have also been reflecting on the times I have spent in France in my recent past. I can go on for hours talking about the architecture of France and the multitude of cathedrals and museums I have visited out of personal interest. However, for those who are neither francophiles nor architecture enthusiasts, I find it difficult to engage my listener, who often struggles to connect to my passions although he or she certainly acknowledges my enthusiasm. Can one truly do Notre-Dame de Paris justice when describing the cathedral to one who has never seen its grandeur? Can one successfully capture the feeling of wandering through the streets of Paris and translate such an experience into something that resembles a "five-minute pitch?" I say no, especially considering the profusion of books written on just these two subjects. Yet, I have found that every listener can be easily captivated by a certain subject, one that anyone and everyone can relate to: ice cream.
Erasmus, administered by the British Council in the UK, is part of the European Union's Lifelong Learning Programme and is the largest organised mobility programme in the world, known and respected throughout Europe. Almost three million higher education students in Europe have taken part in the programme since its introduction in 1987 and agree it was the best decision they ever made.
One of the most popular ways to fund your travels abroad is through the Erasmus Scheme, an EU wide initiative which provides financial support for students wishing to go abroad. It’s a fantastic funding scheme that many UK universities are involved in. The great thing about it is that it works across many other disciplines, not just language—so don’t feel you’ve been left out, just because you don’t study languages! Of course eligibility differs for each course, so have a look at their requirements or speak to someone at your university for more details. At the moment students receive about €225 a month, so you probably won’t be able to solely rely on Erasmus money to see you through your expenses. Application is through your own university, so book an appointment with your Erasmus coordinator to get the full lowdown.
What exactly is a grant? Basically, it’s a contribution of money handed over to rightful causes. This could be YOU so get researching what’s out there. There are a handful of UK charities and trusts which offer grants. However in most cases, the sum will not be able to cover the full cost of living. A good place to start is at your home university, quizzing the International Office about what’s out there. Did you know that if you are an EU student, you have equal rights to work in any EU country? This also means you might just be entitled to grants in your country of choice, so do ask around your department(s) and Student Union. Postgraduates may be able to obtain grants from research councils. Contact the relevant institutes related to your discipline for further information.