Long time no blog. It’s been just over a month since I’ve been back home from Lyon, and it’s definitely good to be back. After not being home for a solid 4 months, it was quite hard to settle back in again after such a long while. Also, for the first few weeks I would accidentally speak French instead of English to people which was rather embarrassing, especially when trying to order my coffee in French in Starbucks. For the second half of my year abroad I’m going to be studying in Cologne starting in march, as I’m doing an intensive German course a month before the semester starts in April (not sure why I signed myself up for this to be honest). I’m really looking forward to going to Germany, improving my German and doing a bit of travelling there!
In this post I’m going to talk about how to survive foreign university as an Erasmus student, as this can be a quite (very) daunting and completely new experience for most people.
Firstly, I’d say the most important thing is to not be afraid to approach lecturers or other students for help with the work. In my experience, in French university lectures consist of desperately trying to scribble down notes when you’re being talked at in 100 miles an hour French, with no PowerPoint or recording you can go to after. Therefore, I found asking other students for their notes very valuable, especially when I went to revise for exams and quite a lot of my notes didn’t make sense!
Another tip I have is to allow yourself more time than normal to study. You’re studying in what probably is either your 2nd or 3rd language, which you’re obviously going to find harder to follow. Be patient and you’ll get there in the end! Also, recording lectures (if allowed) and trying to make notes only in the target language can save a lot of time too when it comes to revising.
Thirdly, making friends with other Erasmus students who are also in the same boat is very useful, and it is always nice to have people who speak your language when you’re in a different country.
Another important thing is to change courses/modules if you feel you need to. When the semester started last year, I managed to stupidly pick a 3rd year module in ‘intercultural communication’, something I had absolutely no clue about and was terrified at the prospect of having to do a presentation on in front of all the French students. I managed to change this to another after the first class, which I’m very glad I did.
Also, I think trying to attend things that your new university organises, like trips and welcome events is important at the start. The events I went to weren’t that good but did help me to meet people.
Finally, you’ll find that it gets a lot easier after around a month, once you know your way around the university, know what’s expected in your classes and know the city you’re in a bit more.
Thanks for reading!