Experience 14 – “very thankful for the many friendships I made during my time on Erasmus…engaging in the many different aspects of Berlin life”
Posted: 16 August, 2017
As a seventeen-year-old beginning university life in NUI Galway, Erasmus was a very foreign term to me. A foreign concept that would two years later not only bring me to a foreign country and allow me to immerse myself in its culture but also expose me to various ways and norms from around the world.
On the back of great tales from former Erasmus students and in particular from my then German lecturer, Dr. Deirdre Byrnes, I travelled to Göttingen in September 2012 to begin my Erasmus adventure. It was an unforgettable year and I was very sorry to leave. That’s probably why I found myself back on Merkel’s doorstep in 2014 having successfully completed my Civil Law International degree in NUIG. I continue to live in Berlin working as a property manager for the Comer Homes Group, whilst actively engaging in the many different aspects of Berlin life, in particular as camogie and ladies football player and treasurer of Berlin GAA with whom I spend many summer weekends travelling around Europe playing tournaments.
The intensive language course at the beginning of Erasmus settled any nerves associated with the move. Thankfully it wasn’t all about the German classes, as there was a large focus on getting to know other Erasmus students, assisting with lecture and exam prep and integrating with Germans through sports and extra curricular activities such as quiz nights and flunkyball games. This quick immersion into German life is really only available to you as an Erasmus student, as I later discovered that there is a great distinction between work and social life in Germany but the Erasmus and University community were very welcoming from the offset.
Life on campus in Göttingen was quite different to that in Galway. Göttingen life centred itself on the University and with over 24,000 students; there was always a danger of getting mowed down by a bicycle. Their efficient use of space was to be seen everywhere and whilst I found their concept of shared accommodation quite strange, I was often amazed how my 10 a.m. lecture hall would later that day be transferred to a University renowned ZHG party for all to enjoy.
As Germany is very student friendly and the cost of living is in general much cheaper than Ireland, I was able to go on many trips all over Germany and further afield. Our college student card entitled us to take the train for free to Hamburg, Bremen and Hannover as well as many other cities. The Erasmus grant meant that trips to visit Erasmus friends in their homeland were possible and during the semester holidays, I travelled to Switzerland, Sweden, Poland and Belarus with two fellow Erasmus students from Spain. This was definitely a highlight of my year studying abroad but I am also very thankful for the many friendships I made during my time on Erasmus and I‘m happy to still be in regular contact with many of those that I met.
Before heading off on Erasmus, I was told that Erasmus students statistically tend to do better in their final year exams than those who don’t. This was very true for me but Erasmus didn’t just better me academically but rather it was a truly holistic educational experience and I am very grateful for the opportunity.
Hometown: Scariff, Co.Clare
Current Address: Berlin since 2014