My experience at the University of Limerick

by Dominik Fekete

 

In the beginning I wasn’t sure what to expect from my semester abroad in Ireland. I knew that the country is beautiful with a lot of astonishing landscapes. The Irish are said to be friendly and somehow crazy, in a positive way of course. I talked to a friend of mine who had been to the University of Limerick one semester before I went there. She had only nice things to say about it. I was so excited to experience it myself. It was quite easy to get to the University campus. I booked a flight from Munich to Dublin, which by all means, was not too expensive. At Dublin Airport there are several direct bus lines to the UL (University of Limerick) campus. Arriving there felt so special. Honestly speaking, I had never seen such a big and beautiful campus in my life. I had to ask for directions to get to my accommodation, but the people I met were very friendly and helpful. One local student told me that he was going the same way, so we went together which made things a lot easier for me.

Living on campus

As you might guess, I was living on-campus and I would highly recommend you to do that too. It is extremely comfortable since all the university buildings and sports facilities are within walking distance. I lived together with five other flatmates. We all had our own rooms and bathrooms. The only things we shared were the kitchen and the living room. I was very lucky with my flatmates. We got along so well and became really good friends. If you can’t find on-campus accommodation, don’t worry. I know a lot of people who lived off-campus and for them it worked perfectly fine. As I mentioned before, all the university buildings are located on one campus. Furthermore, there are several restaurants and cafes, a big sports arena which has an Olympic-sized swimming pool, a gym, a track, and several indoor courts in it, outdoor all-weather pitches, a supermarket and two pubs. You don’t even have to go to the city ;-). There is always something going on in the pubs. From parties, to champions league-nights, to pub quizzes. UL is approximately 20 minutes away from the Limerick city centre if you are going by bus.

University Life

At UL each module is 6 ECTS credits. A module is divided into lectures, tutorials, and sometimes even labs. I liked this structure a lot: in the lectures we talked more about theory and in the tutorials, we tried to put some of the theoretical stuff into practice. There is one final exam per module at the end of the semester. You don’t have to do the exam in both, lecture and tutorial. It is combined since the topics you cover in lectures and tutorials are similar. The lecturers I had were all really nice and friendly. The Irish people are extremely helpful, so don’t be shy if you have questions or if you don’t understand something. Everything is structured and organized very well. There are many help-institutions on campus and ‘student life’ is always making sure that there is something going on, on- and off- campus. Parties, beautiful trips, food markets, pub quizzes, literally everything one could wish for.

The thing I liked most about UL is that they have loads of clubs and societies. It is Ireland’s Sports-campus, so you can sign up for a variety of different sports, like kayaking, football, rugby, Gaelic football, combat sports, sky-diving and many more. Societies are cool as well, because they give you the opportunity to get to know people that are interested in the same things. I signed up for the International society and I would recommend every international student to do so. They organized trips to places all over Ireland for a very affordable price. I have to mention that even though life in Ireland is a little bit more expensive than in Austria, all the things offered by student organizations are really cheap.

Making friends, trips, and social life

Making friends is one of the easiest things to do when you are on Erasmus at UL. It happens naturally. There are so many events and happenings organized for Erasmus students that it is impossible not to make new friends. It is such a great feeling to get to know people from all over the globe and to get introduced to their traditions and cultures. I can say that I have made friends for a lifetime.

A lot of trips get offered by either student organizations or societies. If they don’t offer a trip, just make your own trip with your new friends. Head off, explore the country, and enjoy your experience abroad. My friends from Canada, Australia and I made a trip to Northern Ireland for instance. We spent four days exploring this beautiful country and it was one of the best trips I’ve ever done. If you should decide to go to Northern Ireland, go to Belfast. It offers so many attractions, but I would definitely say, don’t miss out on the Titanic museum. It tells the story of the Titanic, from the planning in Belfast in the early 1900s, through the construction and launch, to its maiden voyage and subsequent place in history. Also make sure to do a ‘black taxi tour’. It gives you an insight into the history of Belfast and shows you several Murals that are located all over the city.

If you decide to travel in Ireland, make sure to see: The Cliffs of Moher, The Aran Islands, The Ring of Kerry, Galway, Cork, Dublin, Dingle, and if you want to go surfing, Lahinch.

Concerning night outs, Limerick has some really nice pubs and night clubs to offer. In Ireland it really isn’t difficult to find live music. I liked a pub called Charlie Chaplin’s and if you are more into clubbing, Icon would be a popular place to go to. It is awesome because it is a night club which is connected to a pub. If you enter, you are in the pub where live-music is played and if you are not in the mood for live music anymore, you can go into the second room, which is a nightclub, and enjoy some club beats.

To sum it up, I would encourage every single one of you to spend a semester abroad. Don’t be shy or afraid that you might not like it. It is such a valuable experience, from the new people you meet, new friends you make, new cultures you get to know, new places you see, to improving your English, and witnessing University life in a different way. My first choice would be the University of Limerick and I hope that my article helps you with your decision for your next Erasmus destination.

 the-hedges

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Bangor – Living and studying in a small university town

by Sebastian Schwald

It is an absolute pleasure for me to shortly recap my Bangor experience. I was fascinated by the nature, culture and history of the surroundings, as well as by how much was done for exchange students. I flew to Manchester on January 14th and a pick-up service brought me to Bangor after a two-hour bus drive. The pick-up service was run by Bangor International, an organisation that was there for international students throughout the whole semester. We had several get togethers in the first couple of days which helped us a lot getting to know Bangor and getting valuable tips for some hidden secrets of Bangor.

From the second week onwards, the university courses started. I took three modules altogether which always consisted of several kinds of classes, e.g. lectures, seminars or film screenings. I attended a literature class on Bob Dylan and his work, one on Second Language Acquisition and Language Teaching and a third one on The Tudors, which I needed for my history studies. These were not exactly the courses I wanted to take at first, but they told us in the welcome week that some modules were not open for international students. For my courses I had to complete seven assignments altogether which included academic essays, blog entries and a poster. I spent a lot of time researching online and in the library because of the many different papers I had to complete. The time spent at university was not a long one, since the semester only consisted of about 11 weeks of lectures. However, it is fair to say that I never enjoyed working in a library more than in Bangor. It is absolutely beautiful, and its historic look and good structure provides students with a marvellous learning atmosphere. Moreover, apart from the final week of the term, it is never really busy and every now and then it is open 24/7.

Apart from studying itself, Bangor is also ideal for leisure time activities. To be fair, it is not the best place for people who like big city life. However, I always thought there was everything I needed and personally I loved seeing familiar faces on every other corner when walking through Bangor’s main shopping street. What I would absolutely encourage every student to do is join some of Bangor’s societies and clubs, which range from sports clubs to social activities up to societies of specific countries. There is a huge offer and it is free to join any of the clubs. But do not try to join too many since they expect you to really be part of the group when they see your motivation. What I did was join the badminton team for which I had the great opportunity to play against teams from Liverpool or Manchester. There is also an initiative called Campus Sports for all students living on campus, where we could try different sports in a very casual atmosphere with no pressure. One of the highlights was Varsity, a duel between two universities in each sport that is practiced at both universities. The team spirit and the atmosphere were amazing, because most of the events took place on the same day.

Furthermore, there are many trips offered by several organisations like Campus Life, Bangor International or UniVentures. Always keep an eye on Facebook as well as on the leaflets you get. There is a lot going on. These day-trips brought me, for example, to Caernafron Castle, Conwy Castle, Portmeirion, Liverpool Titanic Museum, the National Slate Museum in Llanberis and to the beach in Rhosneigr. Another big advantage is that Bangor is nicely connected to public transport systems. You can even get to London in less than four hours, or you can go the Holyhead (Isle of Anglesey) and take a short ferry-ride to Dublin.  

What I liked most about Bangor was its international flair. After I had come back to Austria, I summarized that I had been in touch with people from more than 25 countries and from five continents. Especially, the bond between the international students was very close, maybe because of welcome week where we, as newcomers, were all in the same boat and got to know each other really well.

Finally, I have to add two more honest comments. On the one hand, living on campus is very expensive, even with the aid of Erasmus and all the advantages people on campus have. On the other hand, you have more time for leisure activities than you are used to. I considered this an advantage because it enabled me to get to know more about the culture and the fascinating nature of Bangor’s surroundings.

In a nutshell, I can warmly recommend a stay in Bangor. It will definitely open your eyes in many aspects, and you will be in contact with people from more countries than you have ever expected. I will not remember Bangor as a flashy town with a great nightlife, but it will remain in my heart forever as a town with a great basis for studying, with an incomparable student support and with a great sense of togetherness within the societies. Its hills and mountains will remind you of home, even though you are living a completely different life, mostly without cars and busses in a town where sustainability is an increasingly important topic.

 

 Pictures:

  • Caernarfon Castle, the place where the Prince of Wales is crowned
  • View over the city from Bangor Mountain
  • My badminton team after our Varsity game against Aberystwyth

 

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Sophia Maria Reitspies


Erfahrungsbericht Universität Lyon Sommersemester 2018


Das Sommersemester 2018 verbrachte ich dank des Erasmus+ Programms in Lyon. Ich studiere Lehramt Englisch und Französisch und daher war die Möglichkeit an einer französischsprachigen Uni Englisch (und Französisch) zu studieren für mich perfekt.


Vor meiner Abreise musst ich alle Dokumente beim International Relations Office einreichen, was ich aber als wirklich nicht kompliziert empfunden habe. Was jedoch sehr kompliziert war, war das Finden von Kursen der Université de Lyon. Leider gibt es kein Lehrveranstaltungsverzeichnis aller Kurse und daher muss man sich mit veralteten Kursauflistungen auf den Internetseiten der einzelnen Institute zufrieden geben. Schlussendlich habe ich aber meine Kurse zusammengefunden. Leider wurden die meisten aber dann in Frankreich nicht angeboten und ich musste mich erneut auf die Suche von passenden Kursen machen. Dazu musste ich von Institut zu Institut gehen und mir Listen der Kurse (mit Uhrzeit und Raum) ausdrucken lassen. Ich habe aber schnell meine Kurse gefunden und das Problem war gelöst. Des weitern gibt es ca. eine Woche vor offiziellem Unibeginn von jedem Institut eine Infoveranstaltung für Erasmusstudierende. Dort bekommt man ebenfalls Kurslisten und Informationen zu den Kursen. Das sollte man also nicht verpassen. Außerdem können alle Studenten und Studentinnen einen Sportkurs kostenlos belegen, für den man ECTS bekommt. Jeder weitere Sportkurse ist gebührenpflichtig, aber trotzdem sehr billig (ca. 10-30€/Kurs). Die Kurse sind sehr angenehm und vom Aufwand her mit einem reisefreudigem Erasmusleben in Frankreich gut kombinierbar. Alle Kurse haben 5 ECTS und es gibt zwei Arten von Kursen, nämlich „CM“ = Vorlesung und „TD“ = Übung. Für die CM bekommt man 5 ECTS und für die TD ebenfalls. Die Franzosen und Französinnen müssen beide Kurse besuchen, als Erasmusstudent und Erasmusstudentin muss man das nur bei einigen Kursen so machen. Ich würde empfehlen, eher TDs als CMs zu besuchen, da diese in kleineren Gruppen stattfinden und man so mehr Leute kennen lernt. Besonders toll war, dass ich Kurse für beide meine Fächer inkl. einem ILS Kurs besuchen konnte. Die Institute der Universität sind sehr locker was Erasmusstudierende betrifft und freuen sich, wenn man einen Kurs bei ihnen besucht. Man ist daher nicht nur auf ein Fach beschränkt, sondern kann auch aus dem anderen Fach Kurse belegen.


Die Suche nach der Unterkunft stellte sich als einfacher heraus als gedacht. Ich habe mich über die Uni vor meiner Anreise für ein Zimmer in einem Studentenheim beworben und hatte das Glück eine Zusage zu bekommen (nicht jeder der sich bewirbt bekommt eine Zusage). Ich musste das Zimmer innerhalb von einer Woche bestätigen. Nachdem ich aber einige negative Berichte über die Heime in Frankreich (alle nicht privaten Studentenheime sind von der Uni aus organisiert und heißen „CROUS“) gelesen habe, habe ich mich schnell auf die Suche gemacht und innerhalb von wenigen Tagen eine private Bleibe in einer Wohnung gefunden. Ich habe das Angebot des Studentenheims daher abgelehnt. Das Studentenheim wäre zwar um einiges billiger gewesen (ca. 230€/Monat), mir war jedoch die Sprachentwicklung wichtiger, daher entschied ich mich um 450€/Monat bei einer Frau und ihrem zwei Jahre alten Sohn auf den ich von Zeit zu Zeit aufpasste zu wohnen. Die WG habe ich über eine facebook Seite gefunden. Die meisten meiner Erasmus-Freundinnen waren privat in WGs untergebracht.


In Lyon gibt es ein sehr gut ausgebautes öffentliches Netz bestehend aus U-Bahn, Straßenbahn, Bussen und sogar einer Standseilbahn. Ich habe jedoch kein Abonnement der Öffis in Anspruch genommen (obwohl es einen Studentenrabatt gegeben hätte), weil ich eine Dauerkarte der Stadträder gekauft habe. Das war wirklich nicht teuer und die Stationen für die Räder sind überall in der Stadt verteilt. Die Räder waren in einem sehr guten Zustand und man hat mithilfe einer App die nächste Station bzw. die Kapazität der nächstgelegenen Station vorab checken können.
Das Leben in Frankreich war toll und ich habe es sehr genossen. Gerne denke ich an die Zeit zurück. Die Musst-See jedes Lyon-Aufenthalts sind jedenfalls der Marché de la Croix-Rousse (in diesem Viertel habe ich gewohnt) und das Piscine du Rhone. Ich vermisse meinen französischen Alltag und die angenehme Atmosphäre der Stadt und würde daher jedem und jeder einen Erasmusaufenthalt in Lyon ans Herz legen.


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ERASMUS+ at Birmingham City University

Although I had been at several places in the UK before, I never really intended to pay a visit to the official heart of England – Birmingham. I had always thought of Birmingham as an old, run-down, and heavily industrialized city. However, it was exactly these concerns that I easily learned to overcome during my Erasmus+ stay at Birmingham City University (BCU) from January until June 2017. With this brief report, I would like to point out all the wonderful advantages a stay abroad in Birmingham can have and why studying at BCU was one of the best choices I’ve made.

Getting started

Planning an Erasmus+ semester is said to be only about filling out forms, heading from one office to the next, and bearing in mind deadlines. I can say: yes, to a certain extent that is true! BUT: what is the effort you have to put into the organisation compared to the opportunity to spend half a semester in a foreign country, getting to know its people’s culture and language? So, do not worry too much about bureaucratic procedure, but instead always focus on the actual benefit you gain from it. It is definitely worth it!

Participating in the Erasmus+ programme, above all, means studying at a different university and attending courses (or modules). What made it difficult for me was that BCU does not provide an official “Vorlesungsverzeichnis” as, for instance, the University of Innsbruck, but only a list of all the “undergraduate modules” without any start or end date, room number, or staff notices (http://www.bcu.ac.uk/english/student-information/course-modules).  The range of modules, however, is impressive. Not only can you choose modules in the fields of literature and linguistics, but also in drama, creative writing, or philosophy. Therefore, I highly recommend considering some of the modules that are not on offer in Innsbruck as you get to know new approaches to the study of the English language. Each module is worth 15 ECTS, so you simply pick the two you like best. Moreover, the staff at the School of English is excellent: very helpful, supportive, and always encouraging you to do your best. Finally, BCU also offers a wide range of extracurricular activities such as sport clubs, which makes it very easy to get in touch with other students.

Living in Birmingham

The majority of BCU students, especially in the 2nd or 3rd year, live in private accommodation outside the city centre. Positive aspect: the chances to live with ‘English’ students is way higher and prices are rather low (around 80-90 £ per week). Negative aspect: living outside the city centre means a 20-25-minute bus drive to BCU. That’s why I chose to live in halls in the city centre, which, to be honest, was rather expensive (120 £ per week) but provided me with everything I needed. Moreover, its central location enabled me to get to the university in five minutes, and even more important, to stay up late in town as there was no need for public transport back home.

Birmingham is a very vibrant, international, and multicultural city. With a population of more than 1.1 million people (40% under 25!), it is the second largest city after London and provides a home for people from all over the world. One short walk through the renovated, modern city centre shows you a beautiful mix of different ethnic groups, all of which live and work together in a spirit of mutual tolerance and respect. Moreover, also BCU is proud of Birmingham’s multicultural spirit and organises various events focussing on the cultural diversity of its students. Without doubt, it was this open-minded and future-oriented atmosphere that captivated me from the first day and changed my mind about Birmingham forever.

Of course, Erasmus is not only about studying, but, let’s be honest, also about partying, getting to know other people, and travelling. Frankly, Birmingham is the best place for all of these points. With its truly amazing (!) nightlife, it is so easy to spend fantastic nights together. There are plenty of different clubs, bars, and pubs throughout the whole city that suit everyone’s taste in music, and those who have been to the UK are aware that British people know how to party!

Located in the heart of England, Birmingham also represents the ideal starting point for various city trips. Be it London, Nottingham, or Liverpool - every larger city is within reach and easily accessible via public transport. Also, have a look at the “VIVA Trips Birmingham” homepage as they offer students cheap tickets for day trips to cities and other national attractions such as the Lake or Peak District.

In conclusion, I would like to encourage you not to miss the chance to apply for an Erasmus+ semester abroad. You will not only improve your language skills, but also increase your cultural awareness and broaden your personal horizon. The idea of Erasmus+ goes beyond studying abroad. It is more about bringing students together, about overcoming national boundaries, and living the true idea of the European Union. Be a part of that - you won’t regret it! If you have any questions, I am very happy to help! J

Christian Rainer, SS 2017

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Notts (because Nottingham is too long), the perfect student city

 

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(Nottingham - Old Market Square with City Council)

Already from the very beginning when I decided to participate in the Erasmus+ programme, it was clear to me that I either want to go to Britain or Ireland as it is important to me to engage with English native speakers. Long before my application I did an in-depth research on all university websites and their respective offers for students. Especially Nottingham Trent University stood out as they seemed to have the widest range of sports clubs and societies one could join. Hence, I was very lucky to have been given the chance to do a semester abroad in the home city of Robin Hood.

If you also plan to go to Nottingham, make sure you do not miss the Welcome Week (Freshers' week)! The Welcome Week usually takes place a week before the official term starts. Nottingham Trent University offers 500 different and vibrant activities and events to make sure you feel welcome in Notts. Offers vary from rafting tours, hikes in the Peak District NP, ghost tours through Nottingham at midnight, BBQs and of course parties at the Nottingham Trent Students' Union. It is the perfect opportunity to make friends with other students, may they be freshers or international students like you.

 

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(left: Go clubbing like the Brits; top right: Freshers' Week event; bottom right: Party at the Nottingham Trent Students' Union)

Application and courses at University

How can you apply for the courses and what are the lectures and seminars at Uni like? After having been accepted by the Nottingham Trent University I received all the contact details and also my NTU-ID already back home. I enrolled for two lectures and one seminar. It is important to point out that you already know you have a place in the courses you registered for before you go to Nottingham. However, when you arrive in Nottingham you still have to do the usual paper work at the Erasmus office and you can even change the courses if you feel you need to do so.

I did an equivalent of 30 ECTS credits but was credited less in Innsbruck. This is due to the fact that the equivalent courses in Innsbruck have less ECTS credits. If you think this is unfair and you feel you should be credited more, you need to sort this out before you go abroad. Unfortunately, Erasmus+ students cannot apply for more than three courses (usually 10 ECTS credits per course).

The lectures and the seminar were well organised and the course outlines and requirements were clearly communicated. For each course, both the lectures and the seminar, the professors themselves offered tutorials. I highly recommend attending these tutorials as the subject matters are being discussed in detail and the professors want to ensure that no questions remain. Hence, embracing this opportunity gives you a big advantage for the respective exams or the seminar papers.

Living in Notts, life at Uni and activities

Finding accommodation was not as easy as I thought it would be. First I tried to apply at one of the many University's accommodation facilities. However, they only offer annual contracts (at least back then), so I had to look for a different option. Furthermore, I did not want to stay at one of the Erasmus+ facilities, which are privately run, because I thought that I would not have the opportunity to engage with as many English native speakers compared to private accommodation. I decided to go abroad to improve my English language skills and I was worried to spend too much time with German-speaking students (which is very common amongst Erasmus+ students). In the end I moved into a privately-run student residence (Kaplan residence - Global point) in the centre of Nottingham accommodating many international students from all over the world, especially from the USA, Africa, Asia but also Great Britain. Luckily, there were no other German-speaking students amongst the 400+ students. Those privately-run student residences offer everything you need (laundry, space for learning, great internet connection, kitchen, en-suite room, table tennis, etc.) but the downside is that they are quite expensive.

As already mentioned, Nottingham Trent University is trying hard to provide their students with countless opportunities to engage in different activities, sports clubs and societies. It is sheer astonishing how many different types of clubs there are and it seems to me that every single student is a member of at least one of them. Be it a debating club, chess club, or any kind of sports club, there is a club or society for every taste. I joined the Rugby League team and had to learn the hard way that it was not my sport: sprained ankles, grazed knees, concussions and so on and so forth. Not to mention that this only happened during training sessions in the pre-season. Tough guys those rugby players, not like me.  Therefore, and also due to the English weather, I switched indoors to playing Futsal for the rest of the semester. In general, the sports facilities at Nottingham Trent University are extraordinary. Everything is modern and newly built. They have several gyms, tennis courts, rugby and football fields, a climbing hall and many indoor sports halls. If you prefer watching sports, do not miss out on a Forest game!

 

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(top left: Nottingham Forest football match; top right: Nottingham Trent Students' Union building; bottom: Various societies and clubs gaining new student members at the Welcome Week)

Nottingham is also a great starting point to explore the island. Located rather in the middle of England one can easily reach destinations like London, Stonehenge, Bath, Liverpool, Manchester, Lake District, Stratford-upon-Avon (Shakespeare's Birthplace), etc. within a few hours. If you also feel like exploring Britain with fellow students, the easiest way to do so is with either Nottingham Trent University itself or with City Life Nottingham which also organise the International Student parties (http://www.citylife-nottingham.com). Especially the trip to Edinburgh was a blast. International students from all over the UK came to Edinburgh to spend a weekend there together.

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(top left: Stonehenge; top right: London Eye; bottom left: Beatles Museum in Liverpool; bottom right: Edinburgh)

Concerning nightlife there is always something going on in Notts. Thanks to more than 80,000 students (Nottingham University being the other big educational institution) there are plenty of clubs and pubs where to meet, be it at the weekend or during the week. Besides their regular meetings or training sessions, most societies also socialise on one evening during the week and go out together or just meet up for a few pints like for example in the oldest Inn in Britain, "Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem" (since 1189!).

What else can I say about Nottingham and Trent University? I had a great semester and I feel lucky to have met so many people from all around the world whom I call friends now. The university and the city provides everything for a perfect time in Notts and now it is up to you to fill in that form of application and experience your own semester abroad.

Roman Huber, WS 2015/16

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Erfahrungsbericht: Erasmus in Nottingham

Im Rahmen meines Lehramtstudiums verbrachte ich das Wintersemester 2016/17 in Großbritannien an der Nottingham Trent University. Mein Erasmusaufenthalt in Nottingham war eine Erfahrung, die ich nicht missen möchte und kann es an dieser Stelle jedem wärmstens empfehlen die Chance ein Semester im Ausland zu verbringen zu nutzen. Aus diesem Grund möchte ich hiermit allen Interessierten ein paar persönliche Einblicke ermöglichen.

Nachdem die Anmeldung für den Erasmusaufenthalt in Nottingham, das Ausfüllen einiger Formalitäten, die Kurswahl und das Unterzeichnen des Learning Agreements sehr unkompliziert verlaufen sind, würde ich rückblickend die Suche nach einer geeigneten Unterkunft als die größte Herausforderung bezeichnen. Ich wusste, dass sich der Campus (Clifton Campus), an dem meine Englischkurse stattfanden, etwas außerhalb der Stadt befand (ca. 20 Minuten Busfahrt). Nun stellte sich für mich die Frage, ob ich direkt am Campus, also in Uninähe, wohnen möchte oder eher das Stadtzentrum Nottinghams bevorzuge. An dieser Stelle, kann ich persönlich nur empfehlen sich eine Unterkunft in der Stadt zu suchen. Die Busverbindung zum Campus ist ausgezeichnet und das Zentrum bietet einem einfach um ein Vielfaches mehr. (Auch einige Erasmusstudenten, die direkt am Campus wohnten, bereuten diese Entscheidung teilweise, da sie ständig auf Busse bzw. Nightliner angewiesen waren, um in die Stadt und zurück zu kommen). Gewohnt habe ich während des Semesters in einer Student Accomodation (Quality4Students), die speziell für Auslandsstudenten individuelle Verträge anbieten. Ich hatte beispielsweise einen 22-Wochen-Vertrag um £109,00/Woche. Auch wenn ich im Großen und Ganzen sehr zufrieden mit der Unterkunft, und vor allem dessen Lage war, würde ich jedem empfehlen, sich gut über Wohnheime, private Unterkünfte, etc. zu informieren, da es gewiss etwas günstigere Wohnungen gibt und wahrscheinlich auch etwas zuverlässigere Vermieter. ;)

Ich wohnte gemeinsam in einer Wohnung mit 11 anderen Studenten aus den Niederlanden, Deutschland, Italien, Schweden, Polen, Amerika, China, usw. Sehr praktisch waren dabei die voll ausgestattete Küche und ein geräumiges Wohnzimmer, in dem zahlreiche gemeinsame Abende verbracht wurden. Aufgrund der unterschiedlichen Nationalitäten, wurden Themenabende der einzelnen Herkunftsländer inkl. typischem Essen schnell zur Tradition. Auch wenn ich anfangs etwas skeptisch war, fand ich es großartig mit so vielen ‚Gleichgesinnten‘ zusammenzuleben, da man sehr schnell Anschluss fand und sich während der ganzen Zeit wirklich niemals allein fühlen musste.

Zum Unialltag selbst kann ich sagen, dass dieser recht entspannt war und genügend Freizeit blieb, um die Stadt zu erkunden, durch England zu reisen und sich mit neu gewonnenen Freunden zu treffen. Ich besuchte zwei Literaturkurse (je 1 Stunde Vorlesung und zwei Stunden Seminar pro Woche) und zwei Sprachkurse (English as a Foreign Language, Business English). Besonders lehrreich waren die zwei Literaturkurse – zum einen aufgrund der äußerst interessanten Vorträge und Seminarthemen, aber auch aufgrund der Lehrenden, die stets sehr bemüht, top vorbereitet und äußerst hilfsbereit waren. Ebenfalls positiv hervorzuheben ist die Uni selbst – Gebäude und Ausstattung sind sehr modern, es sind zahlreiche Lernplätze vorhanden und die Bibliothek mit ihrem vielfältigen Angebot an Literatur, PC’s, Workshops, etc. und der angenehmen Lernatmosphäre wurde schon bald zu meinem persönlichen Lieblingsplatz am Campus. Neben der akademischen Vielfalt, bietet die Uni Auslandsstudenten wirklich sehr viel. Vom Team der Global Lounges werden neben dem wöchentlich stattfindenden International Community Lunch, zahlreiche Events, Ausflüge und Partys organisiert. Zudem könnte man Mitglied einer Society werden, da es ein beeindruckendes Angebot an verschiedenen Societies gibt (von Sport angefangen ist über Musik, Film, Mode alles dabei…ja, es gibt sogar eine Cocktail Society, die sich regelmäßig zum Cocktails mixen und ausprobieren treffen J )

An dieser Stelle möchte ich nun noch ein paar Worte zu Nottingham selbst loswerden. Um es kurz zu sagen: Ich habe mich in die Stadt verliebt. Ich finde Nottingham ist eine ideale Studentenstadt und bietet einem unglaublich viel in jeglicher Hinsicht (ein breitgefächertes kulturelles Angebot, Feste & Veranstaltungen, Parks, Shoppingmöglichkeiten, Cafés, Pubs & Restaurants und ein buntes, vielfältiges Nachtleben). Es gibt immer wieder Neues zu entdecken – vom versteckten Second-Hand Buchladen bis hin zum Traditional English Teahouse für die perfekte ‚Afternoon Tea Experience‘ J  Außerdem ist es dank öffentlicher Verkehrsmittel (ich kann das Busunternehmen National Express aufgrund guter Verbindungen und günstiger Tickets empfehlen) auch sehr einfach übers Wochenende zu verreisen und andere englische Städte zu erkunden.

Abschließend möchte ich zusammenfassen, dass ich meine Zeit in Nottingham sehr genossen habe. Es war unheimlich spannend die Möglichkeit zu erhalten an einer anderen Universität zu studieren, sowie Land und Leute näher kennenzulernen. Zudem konnte ich mich sprachlich, als auch persönlich weiterentwickeln und habe Freunde fürs Leben gefunden. Ich konnte wertvolle Erfahrungen sammeln und erinnere mich gern an die Zeit zurück.

Isabel Perktold, WS 2016/17

 

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My time in Lyon

Why exactly would anyone want to go to France to study English?

From the moment I handed in my application, I heard this question every time I told somebody of my plan to study abroad. Why not go to an English-speaking country? Why does it have to be France? I am sure, of course, we have all heard of the French’s endless affection towards English speakers (and vice versa).

The main reason I went – apart from massive amounts of good quality cheese and a great recipe for baguette – was that I wanted to experience the best of both worlds. I have great appreciation for the French culture and their attitude towards life and I did speak a bit of French before I went to Lyon. Speaking the language definitely helps with regard to daily life, but I also met students who survived without speaking a word of French (funnily enough: they were British). As concerns the English department at the University, the teachers were either English native speakers or had lived/taught in English-speaking countries. As a result, everything in the English department was in English even though the course titles and some of the course descriptions were in French. The classes in Lyon were structured similarly to the ones in Innsbruck: a class that covers a certain topic, e.g.: “Shakespeare et la Renaissance Anglaise”, consists of both a lecture and a seminar or tutorial, in which either aspects of the lecture or certain aspects of the topic are discussed in greater detail. In general, the classes seem to have a special focus on cultural aspects as well as English literature, and the lecturers usually have a profound knowledge of the topic.

During my time in Lyon, I lived in a student residence, which made it very easy to meet other exchange students. Due to the fact that there were mainly people from English-speaking countries, the main language at the residence was English as well. My room was about 9m2 big and I had to share the kitchen and the bathroom with 25 people on my floor. This was all right for one semester, but I suppose if you were to stay for one year, it might be best to look for something bigger or more private. The student residence offers bigger rooms, too.

As for the French bureaucracy: it is all about paperwork, but there are Erasmus organisations that help you with that and the old cliché of the French not being able to speak English properly proved to be ill-founded. Rather, the opposite was true: whenever natives found me struggling with a word, they offered help and switched to English immediately. In general, I can say that the Lyonnais people are very kind and friendly and the city is absolutely gorgeous. The aforementioned organisations also help Erasmus students to connect not only with other international students but also with natives, as they arrange meetings, trips, and also parties.

In short, my time in Lyon was a fantastic experience, and I can recommend studying in France to anyone who wants to go abroad. For those of you who do not speak French very well, rest assured: you will be perfectly fine without it and maybe you can improve it just as much as you improve your English skills.

Florian Kraml, WS 2015/16

 

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My time in Copenhagen

I spent my semester abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark, and I had a great time there. Copenhagen is a very modern and stylish city, and it offers everything a capital needs: a great nightlife, a beautiful old town and – of course - Danish fashion and the world-renowned Danish design. At the same time, it is the most relaxed city I know and the Scandinavian concept of “hygge”(an atmosphere of cosiness, comfort, peace, and acceptance) really influences society. Yes, I know it sounds like a cheesy cliché, but it is true: Danes are friendly, easy-going, open-minded and tolerant people- even though they might not seem so in the beginning. Moreover, coming from Innsbruck, it is a completely new experience to live in a city which is dominated by water and located next to the sea. I really enjoyed living close to the water and biking every day- bikes are the main means of transport within the city and the whole infrastructure is adapted to cyclists.

I took classes at Copenhagen Business School, a modern university with a very good reputation. Due to their module system, I only had to take 4 classes with 7,5 ECTS each, which took place twice a week. Since it is a business school, my classes were mainly about language in a business context, for example “Organizational Communication or Language of Negotiations”. Therefore, they cannot be compared to anything taught at the English department here in Innsbruck. As far as I am concerned, this is one of the main advantages of CBS: as a student coming from the humanities department you get the opportunity to gain insight into a completely different field of studies. If you’re mainly interested in literary studies or language competence classes, however, CBS might not be your first choice for studying abroad.

CBS does not only offer interesting classes, they also have a buddy system, where they match locals with international students in order to make your start easier. My buddy was a really nice Danish girl, I soon became friends with her, and it helped a lot to experience more of the “real” Danish life, which is simply not possible if you spend your whole time with other exchange people. Moreover, there are free Danish lessons for EU citizens offered on campus, so I took a beginners’ class for Danish - it is a rather difficult language, but learning it with other internationals is a lot of fun. Danes do speak excellent English, though, so there is no need to learn Danish if you don’t feel like it.

Disadvantages of Copenhagen, however, are the current housing situation and the living expenses: Every winter semester about 800 international students come to CBS, but they are only able to provide around 300 rooms in dorms. Since I did not manage to get a room in a dorm, I had to find private housing on my own, which is quite difficult as there are many internationals coming to Copenhagen all year round and looking for short-term accommodation. In the end, however, I found a room in a shared flat with 2 two Danish students. It was a great experience to live with locals as I could practise my Danish skills and got more insight into Danish culture. Although my room was a bit outside of the centre close to the sea (which meant 30 minutes biking to university), the rent was around 470 €. In comparison to others, though, this was low priced: most people I know had to pay around 650/700 € or more, even in dorms. In general, living expenses are higher in Denmark, especially groceries, alcohol, and eating out. As an Austrian student you are granted 333€ per month, so you should be aware that you will have to spend quite a bit of your own savings in order to live in Copenhagen.

For me, however, it was totally worth spending my own money in Copenhagen. I had an amazing time, I met lots of new people from all over the world, I started to learn a new language and I could improve my English skills due to the high standard of English spoken and taught at CBS. So if you’re interested in spending some time in a Scandinavian country, Copenhagen is definitely a great place to do so!

Verena Knabl, WS 2015/2016

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Want to Experience the Adventure of your Life? Welcome to the “Big Easy”!

Julia Heiss and Valentina Carlotto

 

If you are interested in America and would like to learn more about its culture, spending a period of time in the States is definitely the best way to do so. Whether you wish to complete part of your studies, improve your English skills or enrich your curriculum, the University of Innsbruck has got you covered. Since 1976, students have in fact been given the exciting opportunity to spend up to two semesters at UNO, New Orleans’ prestigious university. With 44 academic programs to choose from and the reliability of a well-established partnership between the two institutions, this could be your chance to broaden your horizons and fall in love with the unique mix of history, culture and architecture that Louisiana’s largest city has to offer. To obtain a better insight as to what your very first period abroad might look like, we have asked Valerie, a Master’s student in Political Science who has been away for only 5 weeks, to share her initial impressions with us.

 

For students who, like her, would like to spend the spring term in the US, the “bureaucratic burden” starts in September, when the first relevant documentation needs to be submitted. “It may seem intimidating initially,” she admits, “but the accurate instructions on the webpage[1] will easily guide you through the application process.” To begin with, the academic dean[2] should approve your study program: In this manner, you can be sure that your home university will automatically recognize any credits obtained abroad. Next, it is important to obtain a student visa[3] and travel insurance. The final steps involve booking the flight and finding accommodation, which for most students consists of applying for a place at UNO’s main campus. Then, before you even realize the organizational part is over, the moment has come to go through the packing checklist one last time and say goodbye to family and friends. Next thing you know, you are in Munich and ready to board a plane to New Orleans with a stopover in London: your new adventure can finally begin.

Studying abroad is not always a cheap option. “In many cases, it is more expensive than staying in one’s home country, actually,” confirms Valerie, “but I am really glad I could apply for a scholarship[4] to partially cover travel and living expenses.” While living in a new country can be very exciting, a period of adjustment is to be expected: “I have definitely experienced a degree of culture shock, and I quickly had to get used to a lot of new things,” says Valerie. She lives in a comfortable apartment on campus with three other international students. Although they all have their own bedroom, if they are at home, you will most likely find them cooking together in the kitchen or chatting in the common living area. Generally speaking, meeting new friends and starting conversations is not particularly hard. At university, for example, people seem to have a genuine interest in international students, so small talk often comes very naturally. Similarly, locals met off campus seem just as friendly, reports our interviewee. “People hardly ever rush, and it always surprises us how helpful everybody is — though we still have to properly get used to the southern American accent.”

 

Valerie is currently taking four graduate courses at the Department of Political Science and is very satisfied with her classes, though the workload seems to be quite heavy. Professors, however, are clearly eager to stimulate their students’ interest: “I was very impressed with the American university system and the close relationship students have with their instructors. The professors are very keen on hearing our opinions and really encourage us to ask questions and engage in discussions.” Moreover, thanks to the information meeting that the Center New Orleans organizes twice a year in Innsbruck, Valerie was already well informed about the exchange program: “Because of the partnership between the two universities, I was aware of UNO’s excellent reputation. Thanks to the exchange of information and the feedback from other students, I felt like I was well prepared for this adventure.”

 

In terms of entertainment, the city offers a huge variety of leisure activities which will prevent you from ever feeling bored. Often described as one of the world’s most fascinating cities, New Orleans is a real melting pot of cultures, food and music. “The combination of Caribbean, African, American and European remnants gives it a kind of flair that in my opinion is very unique,” explains Valerie enthusiastically. The city, which celebrated its 300th anniversary last year, is known for its history, architecture and, above all, for its creativity: “Living and studying in New Orleans is exciting because there is always something going on: live music, parades, street performances, you name it!” The food, the festivals, the many green spaces, jazz and other forms of local music one constantly hears — all these famous attributes of the city give New Orleans a powerful sense of identity. Thrilled by this great diversity, our interviewee adds: “This is such a beautiful and culturally rich place to explore — I feel like I don’t really have the time to feel homesick!”

 

Beyond a shadow of doubt, international experience and intercultural skills are highly valued by employers and will look good on your academic record. Well aware of this, Valerie emphasis how studying abroad is an opportunity that more people should take advantage of: “It’s an experience you will never forget, and you will always be grateful for it. You will make friends from all over the world and gain a much deeper understanding of other cultures.” When asked about her own incentives to apply for admission to the University of New Orleans, Valerie is quick to answer: “The opportunity to spend an extended period of time experiencing a culture other than my own was a huge part of the appeal of studying abroad. This gives you not only the possibility to meet new people and further improve your language skills, but it also helps you to become more independent and global-minded.”


[1] https://www.uibk.ac.at/international-relations/center-new-orleans/studierende/bewerbung/

[2] https://www.uibk.ac.at/international-relations/austauschstudierende-outgoing/antrag-auf-anerkennung-von-pruefungen.docx

[3] http://www.ustraveldocs.com/at/at-niv-typej.asp#Overview

[4] https://www.uibk.ac.at/international-relations/center-new-orleans/studierende/stipendien/

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