Archives par mot-clé : academic exchanges

Stormy, husky, brawling: City of the Big Shoulders: Loyola University, Chicago

By Clémentine Faure (2015)

During the first year of my Master’s, I spent a semester at Loyola University in the beautiful and exciting city of Chicago, Illinois. Despite the apprehension of living in a huge city where I had never been before, I left my small town in Provence on August 22nd to start taking classes on the 26th. There were ups and downs, but the upsides are the ones that have stayed with me in the long run.

I had many cultural experiences from discovering a city with a very strong, striking history, a completely new way of life and a whole new culture to living with three American roommates, who allowed me to get to know my way around the city quickly and to integrate faster into the student community. The fact that I lived on one of the university campuses (not the one where I took my classes but the building I lived in is located in one of Chicago’s best neighborhoods, right next to the Water Tower) also helped me to be a part of student life, since I regularly participated in events organized by the students in my building.

Illustration billet Çchange ClÇmentine FAUREI discovered a new discipline, Sociology, and participated in a few seminars about American history that were very enriching allowed me to study the subject from new points of view. The ideal location of the Lake Shore Campus made it pleasant to go to class, even in the winter. The downsides, even if they did exist, did not spoil my experience. Among the most difficult things that future exchange students will need to prepare for are missing their friends and family,  their home country from time to time, considerable expenses (especially when you have decided to live on campus, where housing is quite expensive), and the “Erasmus Blues” which has affected almost every exchange student.

For those who are interested in discovering American culture, life on an American campus, and who are not afraid of preconceived ideas about French people (“you’re French? Oh, so you live in Paris, right?”), these exchanges represent unique opportunities that allow us to open our minds to the world, learn how to trust ourselves, be more confident and develop an autonomy that can only be appreciated during future job interviews.

Birmingham, Brum, Bham

By Flora Roselier (2015)

Many of my friends are former Erasmus students, and I have always been jealous of their experiences abroad. When I was accepted at the University of Birmingham in the West Mid-Land, in England, I was eager to start my own experience as an Erasmus student. Needless to say, moving to a foreign country is a bit scary, but as soon as I arrived the fear went away as excitement set in. Still, I did not yet realize that I was starting one of the best years of my life.

If I have to summarize Erasmus in a single word, it would be “discovery.” At the beginning of an Erasmus exchange, everything is new: new country, new city, new university, new home and even new friends. This might sound overwhelming, but one step at the time and everyone is able to find their way.

Erasmus is, above all, a university exchange. This program gives students the opportunity to experience a totally different system. The University of Birmingham offers a great variety of courses to choose from. I took both English and American history and literature courses. In fact, the American history course made me discover feminism and the anti-feminist figure of Phyllis Schlafly who is currently the subject of my Master’s dissertation. A lot of specialized classes, help, tutorials, and so on are put in place to smooth international students’ adaptation to the English university system. In fact, assessments mainly require writing essays, which was totally new to me. I found it interesting to get the opportunity to experience another kind of university system from within.

Illustration billet Çchange Flora ROSELIER

Erasmus may be primarily about university, but it is also about discovering life from a new angle, shaking up habits, meeting people from all around the world, and experiencing a new culture. Birmingham is located in the centre of England, which made it very easy to travel to and explore many English cities.

At its best, Erasmus is an experience that forces us to overcome our own limits, challenge habits, and embrace other cultures. I went back home, but now as a former Erasmus student, and I will never forget this wonderful year.

My year in Wild Atlantic Galway

By Salomé Boucher (2015)

Galway is the capital city of Connemara, a region along Ireland’s West Coast, ‘The Wild Atlantic Way’. Connemara seems to perfectly fit our stereotypes of Ireland: green grass, lakes and sheep. However, after having spent the first year of my Master’s there as an Erasmus student, and truly considering Galway as my home, I discovered it was so much more than pastures. I found a country whose history and culture have captivated me ever since.

International students at the National University of Ireland Galway can choose from a wide range of lectures and seminars. As a student of English and the Anglophone World, I attended lectures in Irish literature, Irish medieval and contemporary history, Irish culture, Women’s Studies and translation in order to truly study the country’s culture and make the most of my time abroad. These diverse topics led me to write a dissertation on the role of Irish women in the Easter Rising and the Irish War of Independence that followed.

Illustration billet échange Salomé BOUCHER

Life in Galway and on Campus was an equally important and enriching part of my experience. When I first I arrived, I was a little disappointed in the campus, but I quickly learned that living in Galway would give me endless opportunities. Pictures of the University only show the old building, called the ‘Quadrangle’ because of its medieval castle-like shape, and I was expecting to study in Harry Potter-like scenery. While the rest of the campus was not like the ‘Quadrangle’, it had plenty of other advantages. I discovered places I enjoyed to study, met friends in the College Bar and, after the Society Day that was organised during the first week, joined the International Society, which held events for international students and home students who wanted to meet people from different countries. I also practised modern dance, salsa and yoga, tried boxing and kayaked on the river that runs through the city.

The atmosphere in Galway was both peaceful and exciting. While it is one of Ireland’s main cities, it often felt like a small village. After having lived there for three months, I could not leave my house without bumping into someone I knew. Yet, I always found something to do, even if it was just going for a walk through the city centre and listening to the many bands playing in the streets. As an Erasmus student I also wanted to travel as much as possible. Around Galway and Connemara, the Cliffs of Moher and the Aran Islands are typical destinations, and definitely worth a visit.

Galway is a beautiful and welcoming city. The city and the region are great for tourists. But, for me, Galway has always meant an opportunity for my studies and just a wonderful place to live.


By Valentine Oliviero (2015)

“Tom, he was a piper’s son, he learnt to play when he was young,
And all the tune that he could play, was ‘over the hills and far away’.”
(nursery rhyme)

Why travel abroad? Why go somewhere where you may be completely lost and unable to communicate with others? As a student with the option of going on an Erasmus exchange, these are the questions you have to ask yourself. My instinct was to take the plunge and try to make this experience happen. It was worth it. The year I spent in Chichester, England gave me so much, personally and culturally, that it was one of the best decisions I have ever made.

My year abroad gave me the opportunity to see another culture, speak another language every day and meet new people. I discovered several cities around England, enjoyed drinking tea in a café, and read The Hobbit while listening to The Lord of the Rings’s soundtrack in the park. I also joined several clubs, met other international students who became very important to me, and even watched a (real) Quidditch match! It was life, perfected.

I attended modules that I could never have imagined possible in France. I enrolled in classes on Writing for the Screen and Writing Children’s Literature, and followed lectures about Cinema and Fantasy Literature in which we studied Tolkien, Lewis Carroll and even J. K. Rowling. These normally inconceivable modules gave me the opportunity to work in completely different fields and meet teachers that had different, and sometimes striking, approaches to their subjects. The way they worked with their students contributed to an academic experience that was wholly different from what I had known up to this point.

This year was also critical for my personal development. Chichester was the first place I have ever lived alone. It was a whole new world, socially and academically. And while I loved being abroad, I also learned how much I could miss parts of my own country, even sometimes something as simple as the bread.

I am worried that I cannot fully explain my experience. It is necessary to live abroad to understand it. And everyone that goes abroad encounters the same problems – the challenge of explaining such a unique experience and the surprising difficulty of going back home. After a year that changed me so profoundly, both personally and in terms of how I see my work, I will never be the same.

Exchange broadens the mind

Eight students’ accounts of their experiences abroad

 Students at Aix-Marseille, as elsewhere, are strongly encouraged to apply for exchanges abroad. But what is really behind this presumably enriching and colourful experience—an experience that has become became a rite of passage for students committed to the study of English? In the French academic system, a year abroad is not compulsory when you study Modern Languages, so the decision to leave is entirely personal.

What are the reasons why some students choose to leave in the first place? Is the process of leaving as easy as it sounds, and is coming back as natural as one thinks?

If “difficult” and “unique” seem to be two recurrent words when a student is asked to summarize her/his experience abroad, how do these two terms co-exist in the making of such a journey?

Over the next few months, EN-globe’s editorial team will attempt to answer these questions, and to measure the impact of what is, for most, a unique and authentic academic adventure. We will provide eight genuine records of students’ experiences in various English-speaking countries, from Britain and Ireland to the US and Canada.