“An exciting and character-building experience”- Erasmus + Student Janine O’Connor on her year in Gronigen, Netherlands



By Aoife Cooney

Posted: 8 September, 2022

 

Janine O’Connor, a Bachelor of Civil Law graduate at NUI Galway spent her Erasmus+ year at the University of Gronigen, the Netherlands

 

When asked to describe Erasmus and her unique experience, Janine calls it “an exciting and character-building experience. I completely stepped outside my comfort zone and made some unforgettable memories with new friends, friends for life”

 

Janine spoke in glowing terms about the University of Gronigen and the city. “Groningen is a fantastic university with a wide variety of classes, lecturers and students, not to mention a beautiful city!” She even studied a few masters classes during her Erasmus+ year

 

One of the best things about living abroad was the diverse group of people that Janine encountered between lectures, on trips and from living in international student housing. Janine met people from New Zealand, Australia, Thailand, Brazil, Canada and many more. Meeting such a wide range of people from all over the world has given Janine “a new perspective of all the different types of people and their cultures, even from nearby countries like the UK or France

To that end, Janine and her housemates held a weekly “international dinner” where participants would pay €2 and bring a traditional home-cooked dish from their home country. What a wonderful idea and so culturally immersive! That’s exactly what the Erasmus+ experience is all about

That’s not to say that living abroad is without its challenges. As much of the infrastructure in the Netherlands is built around cyclists, Janine had to adapt to this, and she describes it as “a whole experience in itself”. Though daunting for an inexperienced cyclist, she did find it “exciting to get to play a part in their culture

 

Nerves and not knowing what to expect is a normal part of embarking on Erasmus+, though in hindsight Janine realises “there was no reason at all to be scared”. She also experienced homesickness, but she found it a comfort that most people are in the same boat and ultimately, “it’s all worth it in the end”

Since completing her Erasmus+ mobility and graduating, Janine has lived in both France and Luxembourg, something she attributes to Erasmus+ for giving her a love of travelling and experiencing different countries

Janine & the group during a Thanksgiving dinner in honour of their Canadian friend

Friends For Life- Janine with friends she met in Gronigen, pictured when they visited Ireland for her 21st Birthday

What would Janine’s advice to be anyone heading off on Erasmus+? Go for it as “more likely than not, you’re going to love every second of it!” Ever since her experience, Janine has been recommending Erasmus+ to everyone as it was “an eye-opening and life-changing experience that I enjoyed so much”

 

 

Thank you for speaking to us, Janine- we know that your account will be very helpful to anyone heading off on Erasmus!

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