Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Out into the Big Wide World: A Megan-Shaped Update

Image thanks to jane rahman

So, here’s something:

On August 31st I am moving to Spain for a year.
Well, ten months, but that doesn’t have quite the same impact now does it?

Oh baby. Did you see that one coming? Truth be told, I didn’t either.

Here’s my reasoning in all its candid glory. Excuse the messy mind-blurt format - we’re all friends here:

  • For as long as I can remember, it has been my plan to experience living in many different countries, cities, and cultures. Spain was never top of my list, but the universe has thrown the opportunity in my direction and who am I to argue with the universe??

  • I am partaking in the Erasmus exchange scheme which involves a plethora of plus-points, namely:

    - My tuition fees are waived for the year. (To all you non-residents of the British Isles that’s a whopping £3,200 I’ve saved right there.)

    - I get a monthly, non-repayable grant of several hundred Euros per month. I’m not yet sure of figures or else you know I’d be dishing the dirt, but last year it was €365.

    - I am supported in what is actually a pretty intimidating, crazy, panic-infused step by an educational institution, URV.

    - Bargain Spanish lessons for a year! If I can’t give you an authentic sounding Hola by the end of that then I give you permission to throw cabbages at me. I’ll also be learning Catalan, the regional language, for free.

    - The chance to meet a whole bunch of other students experiencing the scheme from all over Europe (HELLO new homes to crash at on my holidays!)

    - Education-wise, the year is marked on a Pass/Fail basis rather than my receiving a formal grade. As the UK system means your first year works on a Pass/Fail basis too, my entire grade for my degree rests on my second year which I have just completed. I got a First. Yazoo!
  • I’ll be learning my own subject (English Literature, unfortunately there are no Creative Writing Modules) in my own language with Spaniards who are passionate about English Literature – and here’s where you see into the ridiculous recesses of my psyche – therefore they must have an appreciation of English culture, therefore they’ll like English people, therefore… I’ll be super popular!?

    No? Let a girl dream won’t you!

  • I’ll be spitting distance from Barcelona, perhaps one of the top ten sexiest cities of the world (sexy translating as: incredible architecture, beautiful people, crazy-badass-shopping, and a buzzing café culture which is perhaps my favourite of all the classically continental qualities.)

  • And finally, dammit, I’m gonna get me some sunshine! Which, coming from England, will certainly be a novelty ;)

I see myself in a breezy apartment, scooting around on a vintage bicycle with a wicker basket threaded with flowers, wearing striped summer dresses and my new Birkenstocks (which I am determined to integrate into a stylish wardrobe) carrying a satchel, wearing non-prescription glasses and loading up on ‘look! I’m intelligent!’ type books in the University library. That’s right, I’m bringing international-student-sexy back. To what extent this visualisation will come to fruition remains to be seen, but the aspiration is certainly there!

What do you think? Are you excited for me? Afraid for my sanity? Do you want to hear more about my experiences? I’m thinking of starting a serial diary of being an international student, perhaps once a month – would that be cool?

In other news, this evening I am flying home from Italy where I have been staying with my friend for the past ten days. I’ve had a wonderful time but am really excited to be going home. Expect excessive talk and photos from my travels over the next fortnight!

And enough about me for heaven’s sake, how the hell are you? How’s summer treating you? What are your plans for the coming academic year?


Natasha said...

Woweee, what an amazing opportunity!! I get the chance to do the Erasmus thing too, but I can only go to America - Texas to b specific. And really, I'd much rather have gone to Europe somewhere, you're so lucky your uni has connections with such a great place! If you're still going to write, I'd love to hear how your studies and travels go in sunny Espana, I really hope you enjoy it! And all those grants/free stuff and the pass/fail system, SWEET. Congrats! Lucky you!

Zmaga said...

Whooooa! This sound cool. Crazy, but cool. Do write that secret diary!

Martin - TheUniversityBlog said...

Fantastic news, Megan! A diary of your experience while you're out there would be amazing. This kind of adventure is bound to be worth a huge amount to you...yet it's YOU who gets your fees waived and it's YOU who gets a grant each month. Brilliant!

How are you going to contain your excitement until the end of August rolls around?

If you decide not to write about your experiences on Charade, please consider writing them up for my site. Information and updates on how you find the exchange scheme would be a great resource for students considering doing the same.

Happy packing!

juliannelefay said...

Wow, this is amazing! I keep reading about bloggers who took part in Erasmus, I wish I'd known about it as a student, I'm getting kinda jealous. Please do a serial diary! It's not true that the "UK system means your first year works on a Pass/Fail basis" though - at my university the first year counted for 10% of your overall result.

Megan said...

Martin - I know! My thoughts exactly. I'm sure I'll write about it quite a bit here but I'd be happy to do a piece for the university blog too.

Julianne - Yes, I've been really surprised that more people don't know about it actually, it's such a win-win scheme. And that's interesting about the 10% - what Uni were you at?

Lolo said...

That sounds amazing!! Lucky you :)
I can't wait to see some photos and hear your stories!

crunicorn said...

grab life with both hands and make the most of every opportunity and make sure you keep us posted!!!

Fel said...

Wow, that's amazing! Erasmus is so great, it made one of my dreams also come true - to be able to spend half a year in London (I'm from Austria). Okay, so it was only 4,5 months (I wasn't able to stay for the whole year, i.e. 10 months since the programme didn't allow it), but it was amazing. :)
Please write about your adventures, I'm sure it will be some great stuff to read.

Harriet said...

Amazing, good luck! Everyone I know who's done Erasmus had a fantastic time, I bet yours will be too!

Giorgia Student-Flair Blog said...

I am italian and spend a year in the Uk, although not on the Erasmus program but on the Leonardo da Vinci one, working instead of studying and it was amazing, enjoy every moment in Barcelona it will be so much fun!

Christina Marie said...

That sounds fantastic! I don't think you're crazy at all! Where in Spain are you going? I'm in Madrid right now, but I spent the month of June in Granada (southern Spain) learning Spanish. I think this will be such a great experience for you! I only studied for a month, but I learned a lot and met so many people and loved every minute of it!

SharaLee said...

I am SO pleased to see you get this opportunity, ESPECIALLY, since I myself am currently an international student from Canada in a similar exchange program (waived fee, baby!) in South Korea! Please do keep a blog! I've been keeping one, it's linked to my name. I would love to see your experiences in Spain!

Jem said...

Oh my goodness! This is so exciting and it sounds like it will lead to many great adventures in Spain. Please write a serial diary, I would love to read about your study abroad experiences, its a fantastic way to record your memories. :)

Julietta said...

Amazing opportunity, enjoy your time in Spain to the fullest!

I did an Erasmus semester last year in France. At first it was difficult to get to know people as the French like to stick to themselves. Once I got to know them, I had so much fun and I'm still friends with several and have already seen them again.

So even if it is a little difficult at first don't give up! I absolutely hated it at the beginning and then I did not want to leave in the end. I'm so glad that I did it and I'm sure that you will make amazing experiences. Looking forward to read about them here!

Karen said...

It's going to be a blast, trust me. I've been on the Erasmus programme to Sweden and the many Spanish exchange students there were the heart of the party... hahaha.
Enjoy it to the fullest, it really is a life-changing experience.

Greta said...

GOD, I'm so excited for you! I really can't wait until I'm old enough to do something like this. You have to promise us to write lots and lots about it, the monthly diary sounds great, but make it weekly instead! Aw, no, just kidding. Anyway, that's brilliant. I'm so happy for you!

kirstyb said...

oh wow you will have such a great time xxxx

LauraCassidy said...

Wow that's so exciting! And congrats on getting a first!!

Kb said...

Wow this sounds amazing, I've just come back from New York after being there almost 7 months and it's the best decision I ever made and I'm determined to go back. Learning two new languages sounds like a great bonus and I bet the food will be amazing! I wanna come too! All that visual inspiration!

Kb from I Want You To Know

Sunnyia said...

I was just looking into taking part in the Erasmus programme just last night! & I can't seem to make up my mind about where I'd like to go. But I'm so excited for you. I hope you have lots of fun and an amazing time there. & please keep us updated on what you're up to in lovely sunny Spain & gives us information how the project works. It would be awesome for those of us who intend to do something similar. x

Mandy said...

I studied abroad in England for a year (I went to university in Los Angeles) and it was one of the best experiences of my life. Putting yourself out of your comfort zone is exciting and important...and also studying abroad is just a whole lot of fun. After graduation, I got a job as a study abroad advisor, and all my students who go just love it.

Have the best time! Be open and experience everything that comes your way!

Vanessa said...

So exciting! I'd love to hear about your trip :) This is going to be a wonderful experience for you.

Alex said...

I live in Spain and go to university in Murcia, it's great, even though the heat can be abit suffocating at times, and it's completly different from England (well in certain parts, I'm sure if you look hard enough there will be small mini England towns like I have found, I mean how is a English girl supposed to survive without Dairy Milk?!?!?!?!)
Hope you have a great time :D

PelirrojaBiu said...

What a great news! Where exactly will you study? I've just finished my Erasmus stay in Granada, Andalucia. What a fantastic time I had there! Really, I'm so so jealous. But don't expect many Spaniards, even those studing English philology or lit to be fluent in English :( I haven't found one person speaking decent English even among people actually graduating in English! But you will certainly learn Spanish in no time, just try to practice it as much as possible with other fellow Erasmus students. It's a quite easy language, esp. fonetically (sintaxis and "subjuntivo" mode are pretty hard though) - I'm a Spanish philology student myself and find this language one of the most beautiful. Anyway, enjoy your stay!

Merry said...

I've been reading your blog for a while now and this is my first comment. All of this sounds very exciting! I'm happy for anyone who gets to do their dreams. ^_^

sandraaa_xo said...

oh this is amazing! i'm hope i'll able to take part in the erasmus programme! aaah you've made me torn between spain and italy now. i'm keeping this bookmarked! you must be soo excited!

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