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Ellen Clowser


Living abroad and experiencing a different way of life is an adventure that is on many people’s list of things to do before they die. With an ERASMUS year, you have the opportunity to do just that, whilst you complete your studies.

There are numerous reasons to participate in the ERASMUS scheme. For me, I always considered living abroad for a year or so, but with all of the pressures of getting into the job market in the current climate, I realised that this could be a now or never opportunity so I decided to take it!

If you already have some knowledge of the language, an ERASMUS year is a great way to take this further. Having studied French to A level, I had a fair knowledge of the language (though I was a bit rusty) but without immersing myself in the language, I felt that I wasn’t able to progress. I really wanted to get to a standard of French where I could converse confidently. Personally, I think this is a great skill to have, and also looks great on your CV. Also, having a second language opens a whole realm of job opportunities based in continental Europe.

However, if you’re worried that your language skills aren’t currently up to scratch, don’t worry! Most universities offer a language course; sometimes this means turning up a month early for classes or it is run alongside your regular classes. Either way, this is great for working on the basics, and it’s surprising how quickly you pick up a language when you are constantly surrounded by it.

ERASMUS friendships

An ERASMUS year is also a fantastic opportunity to meet some amazing people from all over the world. If you are considering an ERASMUS year you are probably fairly independent and willing to try new things and it’s a great way to meet likeminded people. This year I lived with some French girls and a Canadian girl, and I now have places to stay all over the world from Europe to Brazil and Canada. It’s these friendships that push you to do things you never thought you would do, and make the ERASMUS year one of the best years you’ll have.

For me, this year has also provided a welcome break from the stresses of mathematics at Warwick. After second year, I felt that I needed a year to rediscover my enthusiasm for maths. I found that in France there is a very different approach to maths, which I found refreshing, if sometimes frustrating. It is a constructive way to give yourself an extra year if you are still trying to decide where you want to go after your degree. It also, by introducing you to new people with their own stories, opened my eyes to a whole new sector of work within the framework of the European Union, something I would never have considered before this year.

For those concerned about money, in my experience living in France is slightly more expensive than England. However, you receive an ERASMUS grant, this year it was around €200 per month with an added payment at the end of the year, as well as the normal maintenance loan, which more than covers the difference. And the fact that there are no fees to pay makes it a very viable option financially.

Hopefully this has convinced you to take part in ERASMUS, be it in France or elsewhere! The rest of this blog is dedicated to Grenoble, where I spent my ERASMUS year. If you have any other questions feel free to contact me.