Why study abroad?

Germany edition. On this wet & dull Sunday evening here in Dresden, I find myself watching the World Cup on monitor #2, while searching for compelling study abroad programs on monitor #1. How g…

Source: Why study abroad?

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Work experience in the heart of the EU

In other words, it’s that time of the year. Time to apply for a traineeship at the European Commission.

The application process is now in full swing and you can apply until the 31st August 2016 for a 5-month programme starting in March 2017.

What’s the big deal with this Commission?

If you are from a EU member state than you must have heard of it by now, or at least the name Junker rings a bell, doesn’t it? The European Commission is the executive body of the Union, or if we compare the EU to the U.S. (which is a stretch but for the sake of simplifying the definition of EC, I’ll do it), the Commission would be the President. The Commission, of course consists of numerous members and has its own president and several vice presidents. One of the VP’s, I have to point out here, is a Bulgarian woman. This, of course, is irrelevant to the topic of this blog but it makes me very happy.

Now let’s get to the point! The European Commission, much like the European Parliament, offers paid traineeships for aspiring graduates with European citizenship. They don’t offer just 1-2 places, the available positions are ca. 1,300.

Those accepted will have their travel expenses, possibly health insurance too, covered & will receive a monthly grant of 1,120 Euro. The two locations are Luxembourg and Brussels, prominent places for European politics.

The Commission itself has many agencies and the traineeships will be within those agencies and you can apply for either administrative work or translation programmes.

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I am very tempted to apply and I think this program, while overall popular, is still not popular enough among my peers. This is an amazing opportunity to gain experience and skills which may be lacking in many of us who are in our twenties.

Here are 4 benefits of applying and participating:

  1. You will, first of all, practice your application writing skills. These are important skills whether you are considering a career in academia, business, social work, or anything really. Learning how to sell yourself will bring you job offers.
  2. If accepted, you will have to move to a new country, settle in for 5 whole months and by throwing yourself out of your comfort zone, you will better yourself, become more sociable & independent. Having participated in several work and study abroad programs, I have learnt that I can be much more outgoing than I had ever imagined I could be. Trust me, I’m very shy and introverted but somehow challenging myself in this way has helped me overcome most of my, let’s call them, social setbacks.
  3. A traineeship in the EC will bring your CV/resume game to a whole new level. Your experience will make you look good to future employers.
  4. Working in a multicultural environment will seriously expand your knowledge of the world. By the end of the programme, you will most likely have friends from all 28 member states of the EU. Can you already imagine all the fun countries you can travel to and all the exciting cities in which you’ll have a couch to crash on and a local to show you around? I’ll admit this argument is more on the selfish side but I am sure everyone was secretly putting this in their list of pros.

The only con I can think of is that accommodation is not included. However, the grant should be enough to cover a decent place to live. Maybe once you know you have been accepted just start putting away money each month, so that you are prepared at the beginning when you’ll have to pay a deposit on a new place and all those annoying, but unavoidable, expenses.

Now, let me just mention the requirements because there is no point in working hard on your application to only then find out you don’t qualify for the programme.

  • A finished 3-year college degree (as far as I know in any field but there seem to be separate traineeships available for those studying Science
  • An EU passport.
  • Fluency (C2 level) in English OR German OR French (+ If necessary, for some positions, such as translation, another European language at B2/C1 level – other than your mother tongue).

Example: Let’s say, your native language is Croatian, you are proficient in English and you have an advanced grasp of Italian. That sounds like you’ll be a very good fit for one of the translation positions. For those interested in administrative work, the second foreign language is only optional.

From what I gather from the EC site, accepted candidates will work Mon – Fri from 9:30 and will have to do organisational work, i.e putting together meetings or public hearings. Doing some research work and writing reports will be part of the job description too. There is mention of running projects as well, which sounds a bit vague but really exciting.My inner Leslie Knope already wants to get started!

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Overall these traineeships sound like the best place to gain practice and find out what you are passionate about.

No need to waste your time reading this anymore, just hop onto their site, create an account and get your application process started!
And here is another useful link with frequently asked questions about the programme.

I am no expert but I will be very happy to help out with advice, tips, ideas, anything I can! And if you are reading this and you’ve already taken part in this or any other EU traineeship, please leave a comment and share your experience, you poetic and noble land-mermaids.

*I am not Leslie Knope but I still approve this message*

Irish History Student’s Association: Conference Review

holinshed revisited

Uni of Limerick University of Limerick

The annual conference of the Irish History Student’s Association took place in the University of Limerick between 13-14 March. The IHSA was founded in 1950 to promote the study of history among students in third level institutions on the island of Ireland. The IHSA has served Irish history students for decades and has allowed them to experience the world of academic conferences in an open and helpful manner.

The conference provided many quality papers, too numerous to review in this blog. During a panel titled ‘conflict in the wider world’ there was a very informative paper on ‘The Red Power Movement: a symbol of Indian Resistance and native political action’ by Katya Radovanova (T U Dresden) from Bulgaria and currently an Erasmus student in NUI Galway. It examined the nationwide campaign of Native Americans to reclaim the tribal right to sovereignty and self-determination during the late 1960’s…

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Create a Climate for Peace # Regional re:ACTION # Call for participants

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Service Civil International – GAIA Kosovo

CALL FOR PARTICIPANTS

Regional re:ACTION

Prishtina & Plemetina

15th – 24th of April 2015

“Every chapter of history presents its own challenges.

The biggest challenge of today´s world is climate change:

a growing threat to peace, non-violence and human rights.”

15 young people from Southern Europe will gather in Prishtina & Plemetina for 10 days:

  • to share knowledge and experience in climate change and climate justice, with focus on SCI Create a Climate for Peace campaign
  • to learn about energy policies and possibilities for sustainable future in Kosovo
  • to learn about international climate policies (UNFCCC) and mobilization for COP21 in Paris
  • to learn about climate justice movement and how to get involved
  • to experience life with coal-fired power plants living with a family for 3 days in Plemetina
  • to “give back to Earth”, as an “offering” for all the planet gives us by planting…

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Top 5 Australian Universities, a guest post by Jane Roberts

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Top 5 Universities to Study in Australia for International Students

There are many reasons why Australians refer to their home country as the lucky country. Indeed, the largest island nation boasts of a relaxed culture and unique landscape. In addition to this, Australia has positioned itself as one of the most favourite destinations for international students in search of quality higher education. In this regard, the fact that the country is home to some of the best universities in the world has placed it high on the list for international students.

Some of the benefits of studying in these universities include formal recognition of the courses by various professional organizations as well as quality education that leaves students satisfied with their experiences. Top five universities to study in Australia for international students In addition to the benefits mentioned above, international students can be sure of outstanding research opportunities, relevant foundation courses as well as student visa perks that allow students to work while taking their courses.

 

University of Melbourne

University of Melbourne has been ranked as the best university in Australia and number fifty-four in the world. With this in mind, students can expect to find some of the best academic and research facilities in all the campuses of this university. More to this, the university offers transport services, quality residential halls and rooms, sports facilities as well as cafes and restaurants. In the end, these facilities are meant to ensure that all students can take advantage of an environment that is conducive to learning.

Australian National University

The second best university in the country appears at number sixty-six when it comes to the best universities in the world. It is important to note that the state of the art library of the university is designed to enable students to access the most relevant research materials. In addition, the recreational facilities and student associations in the university allow students to interact and learn from each other. Indeed, one of the major benefits of studying in this university is the exposure it gives students and the opportunity it gives students to develop their social skills.

University of Queensland

The University of Queensland ranks as the eighty-fifth best university in the world. In this regard, it is clear that the various courses taught at the university are accredited by the relevant professional bodies. When it comes to facilities and services within different campuses, international students will enjoy quality accommodation facilities, IT support, and round-the-clock security presence as well as health services. In the long run, students are awarded with internationally accredited certificates.

University of Sydney

University of Sydney is renowned for the quality health sciences programs offered by the School of Health Services. In this regard, anyone who enrolls for health related courses will get the opportunity to use modern equipment that will give them the requisite practical skills. Indeed, this is one of the best ways through which students can fortify the knowledge learnt in the classroom.

Monash University

The study facilities at the University of Monash are designed to make it easy for students to study. In line with this, there are specialized study spaces, discussions rooms, laptop-friendly desks, computer workstations as well as facilities for users with disabilities. All in all, it is clear that any undergraduate or postgraduate international student who chooses to study in Australia is bound to realize numerous benefits. However, all prospective students should remember that they will be required to obtain an Australian visa for students before travelling to the country.

 

Img 3Author’s Bio:
Jane Roberts is a Passionate blogger. She works on behalf of Australian Visa & she has been writing
content on the web professionally since 2010. As an avid reader and blogger, she shares her
experience through her articles on Travel, Culture, History, Lifestyle and many more.

Surviving your first week

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What happens during the first days of a long (in my case 9 months) study abroad trip? So many things happen that it’s hard to keep track. If you are responsible for finding your own flat – it’ll be stressfull and you’ll have to go to viewings, and hope people will like you, and wish that your potential roommates are decent people. Also, you may or may not be hoping to find new friends at your brand new, temporary university. All these unknowns may give you a great rush of energy. However, they take their toll and may cause you a few sleepless nights as well.

Afterwards, once you have a place to live in and you know your way around town, then as you come down from the initial rush, you may become nostalgic of the home you’ve left behind. The people, the town, the life. Sure, it’s all temporary and yo can always keep in touch thanks to the amazing Internet but all those rational thoughts may not be able to convince you to let go of the nostalgia.

Lastly, (because this post is meant to be full of images rather than words) stress and a new environment may pose a threat to your health. Make sure you treat your body well and you’ll start to feel better soon. Or at least that’s what I keep telling myself.

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     Here is my one-week-long ErasmusPlus experience in a nutshell.

     Getting to know the campus, meeting up with people, and admiring the number of fun student societies that exist.

Seen here is the Potter society who organized a small game of Quidditch.

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          And here’s another campus shot.

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          Discovering Galway city on foot is the way to go.

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Boats, boats, boats! Boats.

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Wandering away from the city center is a must as well.

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I went jogging along the seaside. It was great, however, now I’m sick. Still worth it!

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After all:

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Where has ErasmusPlus taken you? How are you adapting to your new environment? Old and new Erasmus students, feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section below. Cheers!

Packing. A guide in 5 simple steps.

Full disclosure, I lied to you. There is nothing simple about packing your life in a suitcase and hoping what you have is enough for a year abroad. And that it’s no more than 23 kilos. It is intense, and it is extremely nerve-racking. What should I leave behind? What deserves to take up the limited space I have in my luggage? Surely, you can buy many items in your new country, provided it is a country of a similar economic development and culture. Nevertheless, if you are worried about your lacking finances, you too would rather bring your own stuff, than have to spend money. I am not really talking about clothes, or make-up – most people bring their own. But what about towels? Sheets, winter shoes, hairdryer, blanket, a night lamp, a mattress? Okay, I might have taken it too far with the last two. Also blankets can be bought, right? That would otherwise take up a crazy amount of space in my bag.

Let’s see how far I’ve gotten with my luggage. Fair warning: upon reading, if you happen to feel a strong sense of panic rushing through your body, don’t worry, this is most likely me transferring my panic onto you. I apologize. My flight is tomorrow morning, and my bags are still far from ready. Okay? You may relax now. Panic is not healthy anyway.

Second warning: upon examination, the beginning of this “guideline” feels more like an internal dialogue between my stressed and relaxed selves. Read it as such. Don’t judge, and prosper, or whatever. Still,  I hope at least some bits are helpful.

Step 1: Relax! (that’s an order, I think) Ultimately, everything will work out. How many times have you managed to pack your suitcase the day before the trip? Every single time. Exactly. Has this strategy ever failed? No. Then why worry? Relax.

Step 2: *4 days before the trip* Short glimpses of panic. Overall: mood still set on ‘taking it easy’. House hunting is a bigger priority after all. Packing can wait.

Step 3: *2 days before the trip* Time for inspiration & list creation. Begin with watching a bunch of youtube videos and tutorials on packing for long trips. Side note: The word ‘trip’ helps me feel calm. To me it implies that the time spent abroad will be short, fun, and cause no troubles at all. Yay!

Step 4: *1 day left* Start packing and while doing so, make an inventory of your luggage. For example: mp3 player + charger -> small pocket of the inside pocket of backpack. Sounds confusing but I get it because I know my backpack very well. We go way back.^^

Step 5: If you run out of place follow this simple rule: Unpack + repack = key to creative space creation. And repeat until everything fits. If your bag isn’t infinite then at some point you’ll get the message. However, for a few extra t-shirts, or the odd pair of socks, this rule is pretty solid. Experience suggests that the more you repack and the more you stare at your bag and wonder at its depressingly finite spaces, the more creative you’ll get when it comes to circumventing the laws of physics.

Leaving home for a whole academic year is hard. Right now I envy all those Erasmus students who will only spend one semester abroad. I will be there for two. I can only hope that I’ll meet wonderful people, take in the beauty of Ireland’s scenic locations, read inspiring books, and, most of all, I hope I’ll have enough distractions so that I don’t get sucked into a dark hole of nostalgia.

Did you make your own short guide to panicing, I mean packing? Share it with me :)

Erasmus+ Checklist #1

The 2014/15 Erasmus+ time is approaching. Only fewer than 4 weeks are left. Excitement is growing, stress levels may be rising but we need to focus and figure out how to organize our remaining weeks: informing our bank that we are going abroad for 1, 2 semesters, freezing our phone contract, renting out our room, making sure we’ll have access to the account on which we’ll receive the mobility aid etc.

As with all things EU, the Erasmus+ program is both amazing and frustrating. It allows us to travel and study without any tuition but in order for the exchange to be a success, we need to work our way through a bureaucratic monster pile of documents, contracts & agreements. Or so I’ve heard. I have been living in Germany for the past 4 years and maybe that’s why the Erasmus procedure doesn’t frighten me. I’ve seen way worse. Just try applying for the federal aid ”Bafög” and then, if you still want to complain about Erasmus, …okay, then I’ll buy you a beer.

I hope the following checklist will be of some help to future Erasmus+ students.

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The ideal roommate

My ad reads as follows:

“25-year-old female student looking for a room(mate) for the period September 1, 2014 – May 15, 2015. I am friendly, quiet, and tidy. I plan on focusing most of my time on my studies, and on exploring the country”.


I am looking for a roommate, a sane individual who has boundaries and respects those of others. I expect honesty. I do not want drama.

The ideal roommate would, first and foremost, know when not to meddle in her roommates’ business. Boundaries are important.

The ideal roommate would be a creative person who would sometimes watch Woody Allen or Wes Anderson movies with me, drink wine/cider/whatever and be fun to chat with.

The ideal roommate would keep her religious beliefs to herself. The ideal roommate would not guilt me into letting her borrow my clothes or shoes all the time.

The ideal roommate would not be passive aggressive if I’ve forgotten to wash the dishes. I will gladly take a friendly reminder, though. I tend to be a bit absent-minded when it comes to noticing some things. Talk to me on time, don’t bottle in any emotions, and, above all, be honest.

The ideal roommate would never forget that she has her own life and I my own. We are just temporarily sharing a flat together, we don’t need to become best friends. If we do – even better but forcing it never works out.

The ideal roommate would value silence, especially in that terrifying morning period before I’ve had the chance to take a sip from my coffee.

 

The inspiring Captain Janeway.  Gif from: http://startrekgifs.tumblr.com

At the end of the day, noone is perfect. We set our standards so high that we end up being let down. What is truly disappointing is that the fault is in us, in our own expectations. It is a disheartening thing to realize but it is true. I have found that lowering my expectations a bit goes a long way. Maybe it can help you too. If not, coffee always helps. It really does.

Why study abroad?

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There are many reasons to do a study abroad program. We all know the advantages: broadening your horizons, exploring a new culture and way of life, becoming more open to people from all sorts of cultural and ethnic backgrounds. It sounds great on paper. In reality – it’s also pretty much one of the most amazing things in life. Still, not everyone is convinced that traveling abroad and living there for a while are so great. Every day I see people on Facebook upload hundreds of photos from far-away lands. Great, you travel. Good for you. Tourism is economically a very important thing. So is having a holiday once in a while. But why not take your trips abroad to the next level? Study abroad programs allow students precisely this! And not only students can take advantage of such programs. People of all ages can go abroad on, for example, a short language-learning experience (I have my eyes set on you, Sweden).

In 2013, as a student of British and American studies at my sweet Dresden University, I participated in a study abroad trip with a partner institution in Nashville – Belmont University. It was a very unique program – no classes, just some research which had to be done by talking to random students. Basically, the program consisted of 2 weeks of living in student dorms, hanging out with American students, cheering for the basketball team (Go Bruins!) and getting to know the area. It was a very relaxed program. The time spent in Nashville felt almost like a vacation but at the same time we were also quite immersed in student life.

In a series of blog posts I will sketch my experience in the US. I will try to be self-reflexive and focus on what this study abroad program taught me. Hopefully, I can inspire those of you skeptical of visiting distant lands for a study trip to give it a go!

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