By Roisin O’Donoghue, BA New Media & English, University of Limerick
This time last year I was on my Erasmus in city of Ghent, Belgium. I lived and studied there from the 20th September to 23rd of December. Much like my Co-op it was an experience that I will never forget. The upsides were getting to travel to other cities and neighbouring countries. Then the downsides were living with others and studying. So much studying.
Belgium was not my first choice for Erasmus nor was it my second or even my third. However, it was pretty much my only choice because the other destinations I had in mind were taken up so Belgium was kind of a last resort. Three of my friends from my course were also going so at least I wasn’t alone. It was still a year away at this point so I didn’t really think that much about it. At the same time, I was preparing for my Co-op in France in the same year. Yet as the summer of 2016 dragged on and I was trying to organise the necessary documents and choose my modules for the university I began to feel the excitement. I didn’t feel nervous or stressed unlike how I felt about Co-op because I had experience of living away from home now and I wasn’t going to be on my own. I felt that it would be the amazing, must-have experience that others made it out to be.
We travelled from Dublin airport to Brussels airport on the 20th September. When we got there, we were a bit confused as to what trains to get to Ghent and ended up missing the first one. When we finally caught the next one we had the immense task of hauling our luggage onto the train which took some serious teamwork. When we arrived in the city of Ghent we then had to find our way to where we were going to be staying for the next few months which took up more time and by the end we were all exhausted. Once I got to my room all I wanted to do was collapse onto the absurdly squeaky bed and sleep for a week. I couldn’t though as we had to get food and explore the city a bit.I loved Ghent, it’s so beautiful with the castle, church and river running through it. Plus, the shopping was great too! Our student accommodation was near the city centre so we could walk in and out as we pleased. The accommodation itself was fairly basic but I still loved my room it was like a small apartment. The modules we studied were Masters Classes and they were tough but we got through the exams (5 of them, most I’ve had since Leaving Cert) and I was so relieved once they were done. They stressed me out but I felt a great sense of achievement for doing them.
The best thing about Erasmus for me though was getting the opportunity to travel. When I was there I visited Antwerp, Leuven, Bruges, Luxembourg and France. These are all wonderful places to visit and I would highly recommend them. One of the biggest downsides was living with others. I lived with other people when I was in France but I didn’t spend every day with them. My friends and I spent a lot of our time with each other as we lived on the same floor in the same building and had all the same classes together. There were times when we got kind of tired of each other but we came out of it still as good friends. So overall it was an incredible experience and I’m glad I did it although I do wish I prepared myself a little better I wouldn’t change it.