As we reach the end of our Erasmus series, for this final issue I spoke to two fellow Junior Sophister students about their respective terms spent in Europe and America.
Ava Browne, hailing from Derry city, studies business, economics, and social studies (BESS) and is specialising in business and economics. She is currently spending her second term of College in Toulouse, France. Herself and five other girls from her course made the journey early this year to take part in the exchange programme, attending Université Toulouse 1 Capitole.
In France, Browne is taking modules in macroeconomics, public economics, corporate finance, management, marketing and customer relationship management. Unfortunately for herself and the other BESS students, there were several clashes between departments, leaving them with no other choice but to partake in three master’s modules to fill up their credits for the term. For obvious reasons this is difficult; the jump from an undergraduate degree to master’s-level modules is not something that should occur for students, and in order to prevent this issue from recurring in years to come, Browne has reached out to Trinity’s Erasmus team to advise them to make this specific exchange solely for single honour business students, as the communication between the business and economics departments in Toulouse is too poor. Browne and the other students have stated that they appreciate the help and advice from College when it came to their dilemma; Browne told Trinity News that the Erasmus coordinators “took time to talk to us about our concerns with modules and they’ve taken the information on board for future students attending this exchange”.
Browne believes that Trinity is the more organised when it comes to exam timetables and coordination, as in Toulouse they were left with the responsibility of arranging their exam schedules on their own, meaning they had to communicate with different schools; this led to clashes and overlap.
“Browne points out the notable difference in price, explaining how the rent for their on-campus rooms in France are significantly cheaper than what would be paid in Dublin.”
Aside from these complications, so far the time spent in Toulouse by the BESS students has been thoroughly enjoyed. They highlighted the unique opportunity that Erasmus presents; it’s a chance to travel and study in another country that you will most likely not get to do again. On top of this, the restrictions in France are similar to what we are living with here in Ireland, so they have been able to attend in-person classes and make the most of going out and exploring their host city. In terms of their accommodation, Browne points out the notable difference in price, explaining how the rent for their on-campus rooms in France are significantly cheaper than what would be paid in Dublin. Going to Toulouse for Hilary Term comes with the advantage of the weather; the girls have been able to enjoy the summer months of sunshine and have plans to travel around Europe while they’re there.
Browne highlights her initial concerns about going on Erasmus, stating: “I was unsure before going as it is a big change and it can be daunting, but it’s definitely worth it”. She discusses how going away has brought her closer to her fellow BESS classmates who she didn’t know as well beforehand, as well as providing her with the opportunity to travel and create memories.
On the other hand, fellow BESS student Marie Doyle discusses her time spent so far in America. Having completed her final years of secondary school in Florida, Doyle has returned to do an Erasmus in Boston, currently studying at Boston College, Massachusetts. On her term abroad she is joined by seven other Trinity students, some of which are there for the year, and others who — like Doyle — travelled to America for half of the year.
As the credits at her host college carry more weight, Doyle is only taking four modules this semester. She states that it wasn’t a difficult process when it came to picking modules, and her host university even allowed students to transfer classes for the first two weeks. She notes that a main difference between Trinity and Boston College is the assessment style; in America it is common to be graded through continuous assessment, and when compared to the “madness and chaos associated with the last few weeks at Trinity when your entire year of work is whittled down to an essay or final exam”, Doyle considers it her preferred assessment style.
When it comes to applying, Doyle places emphasis on giving yourself an abundance of time and to avoid sorting matters last minute. She faced difficulties with her VISA and it caused unnecessary stress surrounding the likelihood of being able to physically get to America.
Treading alongside the opinion of other Erasmus students, Doyle encourages those considering the move to do so. She encourages students that “if you get the opportunity to go away you should 100% take it”, focusing on the unique chances and the fun that surrounds the exchange. She highlights the large cultural difference between Americans and the Irish, but expresses the open nature and friendliness of those she has encountered while on exchange.
“For anyone reading this who is considering going on an exchange, applying early and being organised are key factors in the application process.”
As I close up on this series, what have we learned? Going on Erasmus isn’t as easy as setting your heart on a nice looking university in a country you want to go to and just packing your bags and departing. There is a lot of background planning, administrative work, and preparation that must occur beforehand which requires time and commitment. It isn’t a straight-forward process, but every student I have spoken to has emphasised how despite these seemingly inevitable difficulties, it is so worth it. For anyone reading this who is considering going on an exchange, applying early and being organised are key factors in the application process. The unique Erasmus opportunity we are faced with while attending college is one that is to be embraced with open arms.