Erasmus+: returned to check overseas

Nina, Léo and Théo began their final year of studies thousands of kilometers from home. In Madrid, Berlin or Brussels, the beginning of the school year had a different flavor. On the occasion of ErasmusDays, which takes place from the 14th to the 16th of October, they tell us about their first days as international students.

They dreamed of it and they did it. Deprived of international mobility for a year due to the health crisis, Nina, Léo and Théo were all determined to go abroad for this start of the 2021 school year. Driven by a desire for adventure and above all a need for autonomy and ‘ independence, they didn’t hesitate to go abroad for five or six months (and maybe more…).

For the three of them, it is also an important year, that of graduation. Born in Saint-Etienne (42), Nina, 20, between in the third year of nursing studies at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid. Leo, he, 21 years old, in the third year of international management license at the IAE Gustave Eiffel at the University of Paris-Est Créteil (94) you will discover the SRH Hochschule school in Berlin. As for Theo, 22, in fifth year of civil and urban engineering at INSA Rennes (35), going to brussels polytechnic school. A few days after his return, the Student went to meet him.

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Settle into a whole new country

It was an intense first week that was reserved for the three students. After months of waiting, classes resumed. Installed in Madrid for several weeks, Nina was particularly impatient. “I arrived at the end of August because my classes would start on the 8th of September. They got rejected, I realized I wasn’t enrolled in college… In short, I finally started on the 27th of September!”, says the nursing student. After a few days of pre-return in Brussels, Théo also started to go around in circles a little.

In Berlin, Léo, arrived the day before for the next day with the surprise of start the year with a full week of integration. “All the students were together and we had sessions to explain how the university works,” he explains. We also met among Erasmus students to answer more specific questions. It was also an opportunity to choose our courses for the semester. Here, we do not follow a specific course, but subjects that interest us.”

This was also the case for Nina and Théo, with several specificities. In Spain, nursing studies last four years, so the student stays between the third and fourth year of the program. Theo, who is destined to become an engineer, chose a course oriented towards responsible and sustainable engineering, a topic that is particularly dear to him. “I took architecture courses, others dedicated to new materials, related to modeling the movement of water… I explore other areas“, believes the student, for now delighted with the choices he made.

Leo also hopes to take advantage of his Erasmus to visit Berlin. // © Photos provided by the witness

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Find your way between new courses and new organization

The three students also discover a whole new learning environment. For Nina, it wasn’t easy to adapt right away. “The first day didn’t go very well, I got lost at school and I didn’t expect the teachers to talk so quickly… The hardest thing is to follow“, regrets.

From Monday to Wednesday, the four-hour classes take place in “amphi-classes”. At the end of the week there are more small group seminars… all in Spanish. “After my first day, I was depressed. I wondered how I was going to do this, she sums up. I called my parents, talked to my friends about it and they reassured me a lot. Afterwards, it was better, but I know I have a lot of work.

For now, Nina translates all her lessons, even if some are easier than others because they are more colorful or have already been studied in France. “I just hope it’s not like this all year!” The student sees the difference with the French system: the courses are more detailed and, at the moment, practical work does not seem to be relevant.

For Théo, it was necessary to adapt to the new courses. “Sometimes I get a little lost because it’s too theoretical and I have the impression that everyone understands.” With à la carte courses, Rennais is not always with the same students in the classroom. It’s not easy, the students speak Flemish.”

For his part, Léo doesn’t really feel out of place in relation to what he knew at the IAE Gustave Eiffel. “Many of my classes were already in English, like here, but I also chose to take intensive German classes to improve myself. The difference can also be seen in the distribution of courses : we chose six subjects, including two main ones, which we follow throughout the semester, the others are concentrated in one period. It allows you to have free time.”

Arriving a month before her return, Nina discovered Madrid's nightlife.
Arriving a month before her return, Nina discovered Madrid’s nightlife. // © Photos provided by the witness

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discover the country

For the three students, the whole objective is also to be able to enjoy the expatriate life. “Germany is a country that has always attracted me and I thinkthere is nothing better than Erasmus to immerse yourself in a country, be confronted with a new culture, a new language… I also preferred to rent an apartment in the center of Berlin to be able to visit easily. The city is great!”, guarantees Leo.

Théo also began to walk around and meet other students. “Just go to Place du Luxembourg, there are always lots of people to drink!” Although she has a lot of work to do, Nina also hopes to enjoy Madrid. “It’s hard to have to stay in your room to work when you’ve been gone for a month, she laughs. But with my schedule, I see that I will have time for myself. In Spain, the weather is good and it’s a good country to meet people from all over, that’s what I wanted!”

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