Archive for August, 2011

Bienvenue & Wilkommen!

I was hosting this blog on Tumblr. However, it is now going out of the window since I decided WordPress would be a much better platform for what I intend to use this for.

My name is Rose, and I’m studying French and German at university. In your third year of any language degree, you must spend a year abroad in the countries where your language is spoken (most people in my year study two languages = two countries). And in your final year, when you come back, you have to write the equivalent of a dissertation about your experiences.

I should also emphasise that this year abroad, although giving many opportunities to experience travel and culture, is not a holiday. All the work you do on it contributes towards your degree.

In just 11 days (of which I only have 6 left to prepare, because I am going to a festival next week) I will be travelling to my first adopted city – Liège, Belgium. About a week after my arrival, my classes at the university are going to start. In case you are unfamiliar with the process of studying abroad, most universities in EU countries participate in a scheme called Erasmus. This scheme encourages students to study at other European universities with whom they have an alliance (obviously since I do languages, it was mandatory for me, but I think anyone studying anything can take part). They give you a grant for your trouble.

I chose to go to Belgium rather than France because to me, it is more culturally intriguing. Belgium has two official languages – French and Dutch, plus a small German-speaking area in the very east – and this is a cause of social conflict, to the extent that each community won’t teach the other’s language in schools. Currently, there isn’t even a government! I don’t know why, but this all fascinates me to no end. Also, I’ve only been to Belgium for a brief couple of times, whereas I have been to a variety of regions in France for two weeks each time, and I just wanted to try something different. Anyway, I’m going to stay there until February, writing essays and doing exams all in French, that actually count… which is more than a little daunting.

Then I am going to start the second part of my year, in Linz, Austria, which is when I will need to promptly forget all French, and put my German hat on! I’m going to be a teaching assistant in English lessons in two high schools. I am particularly excited about this part of the year, because… I will be getting paid. This placement is funded by the British Council. I cannot wait to live completely independently, and explore central Europe, which I’ve never ventured to (indeed, this will be my first time in Austria).

And why am I going to Linz? Well, I didn’t choose to. Originally, I wanted to try and get a work placement in Berlin, Germany, which is where I would very much like to live once I graduate. But this didn’t work out, and I was really adamant about not spending the whole year just studying – I wanted to try living in the “real world” as well as in a student bubble. Then I found out about the British Council thing through my German lecturer (who, by the way, is one of the best, most inspiring and encouraging teachers I’ve ever had in my life). Owing to Germany’s strange semester dates, I unfortunately didn’t have a chance to apply for a teaching placement in Berlin. However, I could go to Austria, and so I went for it, putting Vienna as my first choice. I didn’t get Vienna, but really, I am just as happy with Linz, as it looks nice and the capital isn’t too far away.

So, I’ll probably post again soon after I’ve arrived in Liège on 8th September, and I hope to have some photos ready.