Erasmus+ is a university exchange where you can continue your studies in another country’s university for one or two semesters. I decided that I love studying and learning new things that’s why I decided to do my exchange in Austria, Graz, and study in the German language (It’s my third foreign languages in which I had I guess A2 level).
Also, that’s my honest and personal experience, your experience can be different, it depends on the country, people who will surround you and how you are used to traveling.
Why it was a poor chosen country for me?
Here are a few reasons:
- In Austria, they speak more Austrian language than Germany’s German language. Yes, it’s still the same language, but some words are different and pronunciation is completely different. I love what one Austrian man who I met while traveling told me “The only thing which separates German-speaking countries is the language itself” My whole lectures were in this Austrian language. I told my professors that I am struggling to understand and some professors where so supportive and tried to speak German without any dialect or to speak slower (usually it took 10 minutes in the beginning at the lecture, but still it’s nice). In some lectures with smaller groups, they even spoke a bit English, in broken English which level was too low for studies, but they were making an effort. I thought that I will improve my German, but now I just mess up everything and it’s even worse now. Don’t forget, before traveling to a new country to take some courses and improve your communication skill in that language, you would have a better experience for sure and thankful for yourself. Check Italki courses today.
- I went to the Erasmus+ program to study and actually learn something. Relax…. that’s not the point of Erasmus. I chose the hardest lectures and I was studying all the time, but you are an Erasmus student and even professors know that you are here for a short period of time and they tend to be more chill with you. Have some parties, go to events and have some fun, that’s truly a time to be young and stupid. While I was studying day and night, my group mates who were in Spain, Cyprus or Italy had parties in yachts, rode motorbikes and had plenty of Sangria.
- Austria is expensive! That’s not a shock, I knew that, but I still hoped that I will manage to survive with Erasmus+ scholarship, although I got only 500 eur a month and it covered only my rent. I rented a room at one lady’s house (it was cheaper than the university’s dormitory). I would recommend choosing a cheaper country, it’s nice when you can afford to have some fun and travel around the country. Also, you will definitely need some savings.
Why I would reccommend Erasmus+?
- When you try another university life you appreciate things more at your own university when you come back. You start to notice things which you didn’t before. For example, I missed coffee automats in Austria so much they only had an expensive cafe at the university’s campus.
- You experience different study methods and broaden your knowledge on how to study. I had many different professors who introduced me to studying techniques which they use and for example told me to do projects with Audacity program (recordings editing program) and I had to learn how to use this program and I am still using it after 4 years.
- You improve your problem-solving skills. Trust me you will have some issues with lectures, professors, scholarships and other and I personally had to write many official letters, find information on University’s webpage, go to a meeting and so on.
- You have to learn how to be alone and to trust yourself. I was on my own, I didn’t have anybody who was in the same situation as I was and I had to take responsibilities of my choices. Even when I was wandering around the city I had to check where to go, what to do and how things work there and so on.
- I met people from different culture, sexual orientation, professions, beliefs, religion and learned how to be even more tolerant.
- The most important thing I learned how to negotiate.
Problems which I had to face
The biggest and the most stressful problems for me was with lectures. When you study with Erasmus + program before leaving you university you have to fill the table of the lectures in your guest university, what you will study during your exchange and then wait for a letter of acceptance. Although usually when you actually go to the guest university you have to choose your lectures again, it shouldn’t be like that, but it was.
In Lithuania, where I am from, university picks for you what you have to study during the semester, although in Austria they have quite the opposite system. You have to choose what you want to study during your semester, which lectures and then register for it, the registration time for every lecture was different and usually after 5 minutes all the vacancies were taken. Soooo…. I started to understand how to register to those lectures usually after a month, I had to take lectures which were left and it means they were completely different than in my documents which were filled before going to Austria. I studied radio show production, exotic languages grammar and many more random things.
But…. the real problems started when it was a month left before exams. The administration told me that I filled my registrations badly and I couldn’t go to those lectures in which I was participating for the last 4 months, because those lectures were in 5 different faculties and I had to choose all my lectures at one faculty. That was impossible because I had New Media Language as main studies and as minor studies, I studied Marketing so at my home university I also had lectures in two faculties.
That’s where my negotiation skills helped me. I registered for new lectures and went to every professor and begged them to help me and let me do a video about some topic, any topic of their lecture and which would be useful for their students later on. Most of them agreed with the video thing or I had to write a paper, interview or something. In the end, I had only one exam which I managed to pass and I came back home with quite good marks. Everything at the end was great and actually, those group mates who went to Spain or Cyprus failed some of their exams and had to repeat lectures at home university.
As I mentioned before it was so expensive to live at the University’s dormitory so I chose to rent a room at a random house and this time this decision was perfect! I lived with an Austrian lady who was an interesting and loving persona. Also, at the same house lived two-piano musicians and one violin musician so I heard classical music at home all the time. Also, my host was a teacher and she usually brought lunch from school so I managed to save some money. She taught me about Austrian culture, we cooked together with traditional meals and prepared Christmas. Almost every evening we had tea and talked about life, she traveled her whole life, previously she was a professor whose work was to translate one Austrian duke diary from French to the German language. It was so interesting to meet her and even meeting her was worth it.
To sum up, my Erasmus experience was different, because I chose I harder path, but if I had to repeat it, I would. It passed I believe 4 years now and I mostly remember only good things. So if you even wondering if you should go, the answer is for sure! Just remember that you will need savings and some patient.
Read my blog post: Things what to do in Austria, Graz