"I was a mature student who had worked as an engineer all my life and I had been made redundant two years previously. For many years I had studied German in the evenings at the Goethe Institute and after I was made redundant, one of my fellow students suggested I take a degree in German with my new found free time. The degree programme had a year abroad, either working or studying in Germany, and as I had always wanted to live in Germany, it seemed to be the ideal opportunity to fulfil one of my ambitions in life.
During my year abroad I was fortunate enough to be allocated a place at the University of Mainz, Germersheim Campus, as an Erasmus student and I lived in a student household (Wohngemeinschaft) with 15 other students, who were mainly Erasmus students from various European countries. I was much older than the other students and I thought they may not accept me, but they were all very friendly and we used to socialise in one big group. As my German was not up to the standard required to join the mainstream classes at the university, for the first semester I was enrolled on the intensive German course for the Erasmus students. After completing the course, I was able to join the mainstream study programme to listen to and absorb as much German as possible. I regard my year abroad as an Erasmus student as one of the most memorable and enjoyable years of my life. I was able to meet many other students from all parts of the world (there were students from 83 different nations at the Germersheim Campus), and I was also able to meet and make friends with the local residents of Germersheim. They always say you cry twice in Germersheim, the first time when you arrive and the second time when you leave, and I can agree with that sentiment.
After I completed my degree programme, I returned to Germersheim for the summer and I have returned there each summer since graduating. English is the main global language and as there are very few native speakers at the university, my language skills are always in demand. I have corrected English texts for students and for universities in Germany and Poland, proof-read internet sites and provided conversation evenings for non-native speakers so they can practice their English. As I always say, I go to Germany and my English improves! Without my year abroad, I would never have had the opportunity to live and study in Germany, something I had wanted to do for many years. My year abroad was definitely one of the best experiences of my life."