An Exchange Semester: DON’T MISS THE OPPORTUNITY (Part 2)

My Personal Experience of being an Exchange Student

Beginnings

Back in 2015 when I started uni (I am heading for a BA degree in English & American Studies) I was looking through the curriculum for the three years ahead when I saw that the fifth semester was entitled “Semester Abroad”. The very thought of studying in yet another country made me really happy.  Since the exchange semester was an integral part of the degree, I was quite relaxed about everything and did not worry at all. I thought that it would be organised by our department, and this was my mistake. At some point, our professors started asking us about our plans for the semester abroad.  The whole matter seemed to be so complicated, for I was already an international student and was still going through the culture shock of living in Chemnitz after having grown up in Russia. Luckily, about a year before my planned semester abroad, I attended a meeting about opportunities to study abroad, particularly at the University of Winnipeg in Canada. Though the meeting was not really helpful in terms of useful information for me (I couldn’t afford to study in Canada), it pushed me to start taking action.

Even if a semester abroad is integrated into your degree, don’t expect that everything will be organised for you: as I mentioned in the Part 1, start thinking about it in advance.

After the meeting, I met the Coordinator of the Erasmus Programme, Mr Oliver Sachs of the International Office.  I had read the material on the university website and came to the meeting with many questions so that I could figure out the best university and courses to take overseas. I followed the plan which was given to all students wishing to undertake an Erasmus semester: Planungskalender E+

Since I am enrolled in the “English and American Studies” degree programme, (Anglistik/Amerikanistik), I decided to choose a university in an English-speaking country as my first choice.  The only suitable university was Ulster University in Northern Ireland. (I wish TU Chemnitz had more partner universities in the English-speaking world!) In most (though not all cases) if you are a citizen of a non-EU country, you will have to apply for a visa in order to be allowed to enter the UK.

Departure

The entrance of Belfast International Airport (Photographer: Anna Schidjusowa)

Time was running out.  I had so much to do!  The long list included applying to and getting an admission letter from Ulster University, receiving a grant from the Erasmus programme, getting a UK visa and booking flights to Belfast and arranging accommodation.  There were just couple of days left until my departure! I was excited, nervous, happy, worried and scared – and all at the same time.

I was greatly excited when I finally landed at Belfast International Airport.  From my window seat, I saw the ocean.  Living in a coastal city has always been my dream! I couldn’t wait to reach my accommodation and start exploring the surroundings.

 

Anna Schidjusowa

(Bachelor British and American Studies, 5th semester)

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