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Facts and myths about Erasmus exchange in Spain

Many people think about going for Erasmus exchange, however, they have a lot of doubts. The gossips and opinions about Erasmus people and their trips, usually spoken by those ones, that have no experience about it, don’t help in making the decision. What are the facts and myths about Erasmus experience? Feel free to read.

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You have to speak perfectly English to go to Erasmus exchange.

MYTH. You don’t have to speak fluent English or pass exams at Oxford level. The required level of English language depends on the country and the university, but usually it is enough to know English at A2 or B1 level. This refers to countries such as Spain, Portugal, Germany, Hungary, France (I have no knowledge about Great Britain). Naturally, the university has to check the level of your English language skills, however there is no need to be stressed about it (said by a person stressed about everything). This is how it was at my university (UMCS in Lublin): at the end of March, the meeting of a committee in the composition of four professors was held, in order to talk with the candidates (two candidates were interviewed at the same time). The interviews were held in English and had really nice and friendly atmosphere.

E. g. I was asked:

  • if I have ever been on Erasmus exchange before,
  • why do I want to take part in the Erasmus programme,
  • where would I like to go and why,
  • which places abroad have I already visited,
  • how do I imagine my exchange period, etc.

As you can see, the interview’s purpose is only to check whether you are able to communicate in foreign language; nobody will give you less points, if you forget a word or use wrong tense;)

During Erasmus exchange I have met a lot of people from different countries and with different English skills. Some of them didn’t speak English well and it was very hard to understand them, but the most important was the fact, that they were constantly practicing theirs skills, by using English in real life.

You have to know the basics of the mother tongue of a country, that you are willing to study in.

MYTH. Going for an exchange to Spain you have to know basics of Spanish. That is not true! The same as if you are going to Norway, you don’t have to know Norwegian (how many people do? ). Of course it would be easier in everyday life, in a shop, bus or on the street; but if you don’t know, then it’s not a big problem. You will manage to survive anyway. Despite what you think, many people that don’t know mother tongue of a given country, take part in an exchange programme and quickly get to know basic language skills being already there. Being in that environment, even after only one semester, you will be able to have at least simple conversations.;)

Doing an Erasmus exchange involves a lot of paperwork.

FACT. It is true that there is a lot of paperwork, in both before and after the exchange. All aspects have to be specifically agreed between home university and receiving institution, that’s why it usually takes so much time. However, you don’t have to be concerned about anything. The Erasmus office will inform you what, how and until when exactly you have to fill and submit. Employees of your home university will guide you properly also during your stay abroad. In case some problems appear, somebody will help you for sure.

It is hard to get in the Erasmus programme, because there is a lot of people applying.

MYTH. I don’t know how the situation looks at other universities, but before applying for Erasmus programme I also thought that I will have a big competition and I was wondering what to do, in order to make the committee choose exactly me. When my time for an interview came, I realized that from my whole faculty, there was only less than 20 people. And the committee had 48 places to assign. At the end, everybody got in. Sometimes, people were assigned to other countries that they applied, but usually they were people, who already have taken part in Erasmus programme before.

The Erasmus grant is insufficient and you have to ensure yourself some extra money.

MYTH. Going for exchange to Spain I received 400€ per month. The amount of money depends on a country you will be studying in. I can assure you, that this amount of money can completely cover the costs you will bear: rent for the room, bills, food and other small expenses. The scholarship that I received was enough for me until January. Why? Because as soon as I arrived in Huelva, I couldn’t stay in one place and I was sightseeing all of the cities I could, both the ones that were near and far, beginning with Seville and ending with Madrid and Lisbon. Therefore, if you also love to travel, then you will have to provide yourself a bit more money. If Huelva and its surroundings are enough for you to visit, then don’t worry about money.;)

One thing I didn’t take into account while speaking about expenses: flight tickets. It is possible that you will need to have some extra money for buying the tickets, depending on the time that you buy them or some special occasion you can find.

After mobility you have to pass exams in Poland.

MYTH. Everything depends on your agreement with university. Before the mobility, I filled the proper document with agreement about passing the semester, where to every subject I should normally pass in Poland, I assigned a subject which I could attend to in Spain. At the end of the semester I had exams in Huelva, and the grades were sent by receiving institution to Poland and entered into my index.

Passing the semester/ year during Erasmus exchange is easy.

MYTH. Erasmus exchange is not only about partying until sunrise, going to the beach and travelling. You can’t pass the semester doing nothing. I admit, that at the university in Huelva it was quite easy to pass. I thought they will require way more, make more exams and give a lot of homework. The opposite situation is probably caused by not so stressful and happier lifestyle, or I just had luck and my subjects weren’t that hard to pass. The teachers were relatively understanding for Erasmus students, but not indulgent. If somebody didn’t attend classes or had a really bad result on exam (e. g. got 1 point out of 10 possible) – he didn’t pass the subject. What next then? I don’t know. And I didn’t want to find out.


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