Studying in a new country every semester: Life on the Erasmus Mundus programme | Top Universities

Studying in a new country every semester: Life on the Erasmus Mundus programme

By Md Arman A

Updated August 8, 2022 Updated August 8, 2022

I still remember the day I received the email granting me a prestigious Erasmus Mundus scholarship. It meant I’d get to study across four different universities in Europe and make travel a key element of my education. I was on cloud nine!   

I'm studying a master’s in Safe and Reliable Nuclear Applications alongside students from 17 countries. So far, I’ve studied a semester at IMT Atlantique in France and a semester at LUT University in Finland. Now, I’m about to embark on my next adventure at the University of Ljubljana in Slovenia.  

This is what it’s like to study each semester in a different country.  

Experiencing new cultures  

Finland

Studying with Erasmus has provided me with the opportunity to learn about different cultures and communities. Spending four-to-five months in each country means that I’m able to immerse myself into the lifestyle of each place I study in. 

In my first couple of days at IMT Atlantique, we had several cross-cultural programmes to introduce us to French culture, and to other cultures too. My professors brought together groups of students from various countries to perform a play about our cultures. I was in a group of students from Mexico, Thailand, Poland and Bangladesh. 

Learning more languages 

Learning a new language can be scary when you’re already living in the country, but it can be fun too. In France, it was compulsory for me to learn the language while I was studying and I found that the more I learned, the easier it was to navigate life abroad. I started to make new friends who I could speak to in their own language.  

In Finland, most people speak excellent English so I didn’t need to learn as much Finnish. It’s a difficult language, but I did learn a few words so I could try to speak to local people.  

Making lots of global friends  

Arman and their friends

Erasmus has given me the opportunity to make friends from around the world. The programme hosts lots of parties and international events to help you meet others.  

The sad part is that every time you move countries you have to leave your friends behind. When I came to Finland and left my friends behind in France, I missed them a lot but in a new place I found a lot of new friends. I have a WhatsApp group with the friends I’ve met so far, so we’re always connected to each other. 

I found it difficult to make friends in Finland because of the huge cultural differences and the weather, which is very cold and snowy. Most of the time the temperature is below –20 so people tend to stay home unless they need to go out.  

I made plans to go out with some Finnish friends, but because of the cold and snow, we cancelled a lot. Still, I made many friends at the university while studying in the library. 

Learning from an array of world-class professors

One of the best things about the Erasmus Mundus scholarship is that all partner universities are prestigious and world-renowned, so I benefit from a broad range of inspiring professors.  

At IMT Atlantique in France, my professors worked with The European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) alongside teaching. Many of my professors have brought years of industry experience to the classroom to bring lessons to life and provide real-world examples in the field. 

My second semester at LUT University in Finland introduced me to next-level programming and simulation facilities. I worked with software for analysing nuclear power that isn’t available outside of Finland. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity I wouldn’t have had access to had I not studied there. 

Visiting 26 countries with one visa  

Another great benefit of studying in Europe is that you get a Schengen visa, which allows you to visit any country in the European Union at any time.  

Within the last year, I’ve visited six other countries including Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Belgium, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. It astonished me to know that it’s not expensive to visit some places like Estonia and Latvia, where I stayed for six days. It cost me around €250 (~£213) for the whole trip. You’ll laugh to hear that my friends sometimes travel to different countries just to buy clothes because it’s cheaper.  

The chance to try a variety of food 

Talinn

The local cuisines in different European countries are so interesting. Each country is known for its own style of food, even though you can get anything you want from the supermarkets and international restaurants.  

In France, chocolate is popular and cheap. There are lots of toasties called ‘Croque Monsieur’s’ and even escargot (snails). In Finland, there were Karjalanpiirakka (rice pies), Graavilohi (cured salmon) and Poronkaristys (sauteed reindeer) everywhere. I had difficulty eating the local food, so I just shopped in supermarkets and cooked my own meals at home.  

Whatever you enjoy eating, there are restaurants of all cuisines like Indian, Turkish, Italian and Mexican. 

Incredible student nightlife 

Europe is a big place with many student cities full of bars and nightclubs. When I studied in Nantes in France, there was a student nightclub in front of our university accommodation. I used to go there every weekend to take a break from studying and have fun with my friends.  

Finland also had underground bars and nightclubs for students near LUT University in Lappeenranta. They’re very popular among local and international students. In the Baltic regions, drinks in bars and clubs are very affordable and people will invite you to sing and dance with them.  

I felt very safe enjoying life as a student in the countries I’ve studied in.  

Moving to a new country every semester 

Moving to a new country every few months is fun but arranging accommodation can be difficult if the university doesn’t provide student accommodation. Fortunately, both the universities in France and Finland had student housing, but I’m now struggling to find a place to stay for my next semester in Ljubljana. I’ve learned that you can speak to the university and ask for trusted and recommended accommodation suppliers, even if they don’t supply their own. 

 

If you love travelling, eating different kinds of food and meeting people from all over the world, Erasmus Mundus should be one of your top priorities. Not only have I got to study at some of the top universities in the world, I’m enjoying university life to the fullest.

This article was originally published in August 2022 .

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