As an Erasmus student, a question I get asked a lot is “why England?”. The truth is, I could have gone anywhere in Europe, but I had quite a few reasons for picking England, and Leeds in particular.
When I was starting out on my Erasmus journey, I had a list of universities in various different countries that I could choose from, and while it was tempting to pick somewhere sunny like Spain or even France, the truth is, if I did go somewhere warm, I would get nothing done! I’d spend far too much time out in the sun. And besides, I had been to England quite a few times before my Erasmus placement, and I really liked it and jumped at the opportunity to get to spend an extended period of time here. However, I had never been in Leeds before starting Erasmus, so I must say it was definitely a bit daunting.
During my research of possible destinations for my Erasmus, I learned that Leeds Beckett’s city campus is right in the city centre, which was definitely a pull for me. I was really impressed at how it was so close to everything, and when I was sent the list of modules it was possible for me to study, I knew I had made the right choice to pick Leeds Beckett because there was a lot of modules I would have loved to have done. However, I only got to pick three, so narrowing it down to that number was difficult. I looked further into what Leeds Beckett had to offer outside of study and found out that there is loads of clubs and societies for students to get involved in, and I thought that would definitely help in making new friends here.
At home in Ireland I’m studying New Media and English at the University of Limerick, and that also played a part in my decision to come to England. I thought “well I’m studying English, so what better place to do my Erasmus than England?” I find my course in my home university very enjoyable, as English was always my strong point in school, and to study it at university level seemed like a natural progression for me. I hope to get into media when I’m finished university, so studying new media along with English, seemed perfect for me. Before my Erasmus started, I had 6 months of work placement which I did in a local radio station in my town. This focus on practical placement, as well as the chance to go off and study in a different country as I am now, were really appealing to me when I was choosing my course.
Fast forward a couple of months, and I have now been in Leeds for almost two weeks and I am loving it! My accommodation is really modern, very spacious, and it’s incredibly close to both the uni, and the city centre. I also love how there is always something going on in Leeds, no matter what you’re into. The nightlife is great, there is somewhere that you’ll enjoy no matter what kind of music you’re into, or whether you like clubbing or not. Leeds has great shops and arcades which are great to spend the day looking around, but that may not be so good for my bank account! I love the independence as well, at my home university I live about 45 minutes away, so I drive in and out each day. Having this amount of independence is new to me, but I’m enjoying living on my own and standing on my own two feet for the first time. Although that was a terrifying thing too, especially the night before my flight, I couldn’t sleep a wink! Although now that I’m here and have settled in, I have no idea what I was so worried about. I also find that the UK is much cheaper than Ireland, so your money goes a lot further, which is definitely a help.
I had heard a lot about Erasmus before I went on mine, I have a few cousins who did Erasmus as part of their courses and they told me that they absolutely loved it, and that they were so glad they got the opportunity to study abroad. I feel like the Erasmus placement will benefit me in a lot of ways, the biggest one being that I get to learn how to live on my own, cook for myself, and how to be an adult basically. I share my flat here with five other girls, and I have to say I’m incredibly lucky that we all get on so well. We worked out a rota for things like taking out the bins and cleaning the kitchen, which has been something different for me.
I think the Erasmus programme will stand to me in the future for many reasons. For one, I have an interest in moving to England once I’m finished university, so having spent a few months here will give me an insight to what it is like to live here, and the differences between England and Ireland (there are more than I thought!) It is also said that having done a study abroad period abroad helps with getting jobs once finished university, and that employers look favourably upon it, so all in all, it seems like a win-win situation.