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Live! - Opinion

This article is an opinion piece and should be taken as such. It is highly likely to be biased, but either the article itself or the ensuing discussion will probably be entertaining. Live! takes no editorial line on opinion pieces.

Study Abroad: Subtly different from a holiday

Mar 05 2004 13:59
Andrew Caisley
Le Potage is better than "Thought for the Day", I only have to write it when I can be bothered and thought is almost entirely replaced by soup.
This is Erasmus, he is wearing a splendid hat.

The original idea of Le Potage was to write about students abroad. Me being an opinionated sod got in the way. Unfortunately this made a mighty Editor wielding a 14th century jelly war hammer terribly cross. Therefore in the interests of public safety the next four articles will be about why, where and how you should study abroad.

This week, what will the lecturers (who appear hell bent on ruining the best years of your life) let you get away with?

The good news is, a lot. Your department will have researched what is good for you, but it is up to you to decide what is best. Once you have chosen a university it is up to you to propose your study plan. You must follow the guidelines from your department and get their agreement but you will have a large amount of flexibility, often more than in the UK.

Imperial has set up links with lots of universities throughout the world but most people stay in Europe as part of the SOCRATES-ERASMUS scheme funded by the EU. Foreign jaunts generally last a year, which goes very fast indeed. Nevertheless, some people have been known to discover Sangria/German men and never leave!

Thankfully study abroad isn't just study; it could be a project in industry, a sandwich placement, research project, elective or a cover story to get away from your flatmates. Despite that fact that not all exchanges are available in all departments (colours may vary, details correct at time of going to press) you get about as much choice as EasyJet but with more legroom.

There are some easy ways to choose where to go, firstly language. Some countries have no language requirement e.g. Australia, others have courses in English but everyone speaks something else e.g. Sweden, most require a foreign language e.g. Texas. Language "requirements" vary from placement to placement but confidence is definitely more important than ability.

Finally, why should you put yourself through the hassle of leaving London for a year (if not for The Daily Mail, Union Elections and Lord Archer)? Well according to some folk who understand this stuff, it looks good on your CV. This is, however, a poxy reason for inflicting yourself on the Spanish. Think of a better one. You could actually learn Spanish properly (in a bar) or find out why the Germans despair of the French inability (and the English requirement) to queue. Even if you learn nothing about the people of Finland you will definitely learn a lot about yourself.

Sound interesting? why not contact your departmental exchange co-ordinator or the International Students best friend and Student Placement Officer, .

You really should know what to expect before you arrive, it makes life easier. Why not visit the Erasmus Club web site at or talk to some students who are already abroad?

Next week, how to take your finals in Urdu and not fail your degree.

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See Also

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    10 Sep 03 | Le Potage
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    01 Sep 03 | Le Potage

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