Managing homesickness – some (hopefully) helpful advice!

by Aimee Kinniburgh, Universiteit van Amsterdam, Netherlands

When moving abroad, so much of what you’re told is positive: you’ll make the best friends, you’ll experience new cultures, you’ll learn so much about yourself. Of course, all of this is true and already my year abroad is turning into one of the best years of my life. However, what I think people often miss is that whilst you experience some of the highest highs, that also comes with experiencing some of the lowest lows. This isn’t in any way to put you off going, I fundamentally think it’s one of the best things you could ever do. But given all of this I thought it might be a good idea to write about my experiences with homesickness and some of the ways I found to deal with missing your home comforts and life back home, in the hope that maybe this helps someone else feeling this way, or in the least act as some free therapy for me!

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Academic life at The University of Warsaw

By Greta Gibbons, University of Warsaw, Poland

The workload of an Erasmus course at the University of Warsaw is a lot less than what is expected of a normal academic year at the University of Manchester. This is great during your study abroad as it meant that you have a nice balance between studying and doing things like socialising, travelling, and enjoying the change of lifestyle and culture.

This was also a great opportunity to study a wide range of subjects that had never been on offer to me before in Manchester. I studied the following modules on the Law Erasmus+ programme. 

  • Criminalistics and Forensic Studies 
  • EU Food Law
  • EU Medical Law and Bioethics
  • International Organizations
  • Mergers And Acquisitions
  • Mixed Jurisdictions Worldwide 
  • Applied Criminology
  • Commercial Law and the Basic Institutions of Company Law 
  • Constitutional Law 
  • Freedom Of Speech in The Us Supreme Court Jurisprudence
  • Legal Mediation 
  • Polish Criminal Procedure

All of these were super interesting and engaging topics to study and the lecturers were top class. My favourite class was criminalistics and forensics as it was very hands on when we were analysing fingerprints and DNA samples.

As well as the nature of academic life in Warsaw, the campus itself was so beautiful too, which makes it an enjoyable place to study. The botanical rooftop library garden was a real highlight. 

Overall, university life at the University of Warsaw was incredible and I would really recommend a applying for the academic side of the university alone, not just the amazing city it is in!

First Impressions of Sustainability in Amsterdam

By Molly Hayward, University Of Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Amsterdam is well known as an ‘eco-capital’ and is a prominent example of a sustainable city. This was one of the elements that led to me choosing it for my study abroad. Since arriving, a couple of months ago, I have had time to create initial impressions of how true this is on the ground, these are my thoughts:

Firstly there is a great deal of visible sustainability. The UVA campus has lots of water points scattered around, the coffee machines recommend re-using the compostable cup and there is a notable lack of plastic disposal cutlery available – choosing instead the wooden alternative.

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Amsterdammer Diaries: First* Month Favourites

*and second

By Hannah Carter-Moore, University of Amsterdam

The fact that I haven’t had time until now to sit down and write my first blog since arriving here in ‘Dam should give you a sense of what a full on experience it’s been so far. 

I’m currently sitting on my sweet canal-side terrace trying to catch the last rays before Amsterdam plunges into Winter, finally taking the moment to reflect on this crazy past month.

not a bad view eh?
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How to not be homeless in Amsterdam (some hopefully helpful housing advice)

By Hannah Carter-Moore, University of Amsterdam, Netherlands

Nowhere does a housing crisis quite like Amsterdam. When I was in the midst of looking at all the options for accommodation, I wished I had someone to just tell me what to do – so that’s what I’m doing here.

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Travelling Around Poland

by Greta Gibbons, University of Warsaw, Poland

My year abroad gave me plenty of opportunities to travel during the year. This was due to the increase of free time, availability of cheap flights and being in the centre of Europe. I’ve created a list of all the places I managed to visit within Poland firstly. This highlights the extent to which you can travel abroad, and even just in your own exchange country. Just one of the many perks of the international study programme!

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Weekends and Days off in Toulouse!

by Sarah Cross, Sciences Po Toulouse, France

Despite having more classes and a fuller timetable than I’m used to in Manchester (those 8:30am lectures will stop me from ever complaining about a 9am again!), there remains plenty of time to explore the beautiful city and surrounding areas. I’m lucky enough to also have Fridays off this Semester, giving me even more time to explore. I thought I’d tell you about some of my favourite things I’ve done outside of classes and the library in my first two months.

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Bergen: Another Mountain to Climb

by Jasmine Angus, University of Bergen, Norway

It has been 3 months and 19 days until I boarded the flight at London-Gatwick with a complete stranger on my way to Bergen. 3 months and 19 days later and so much has changed. I have climbed 4 of the 7 mountains surrounding the city. I have travelled around Europe and have more trips to come. I have made incredible friends and I have also cried a couple of times. The past 3 months and 19 days have been incredibly testing; but also monumentally rewarding. 

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My First Week in Budapest🇭🇺

FYI: these are all my personal opinions and experiences!

By Isabelle Lydon, Eotvos Lorand University, Hungary

I began my first week in Budapest feeling extremely nervous yet excited. Luckily my first week did not just consist of apartment hunting – my parents and I made sure we did loads of sight-seeing as well. On our first day we just walked around the city to get our bearings. One thing you should know about Budapest is that it’s actually quite a big city. I should probably mention as some people don’t actually know that the city is split into two parts by the river Danube – Buda and Pest. I would say that Pest is much more touristy and where a lot of the shops and nightlife is. Buda is much more rural and quieter. As ELTE is in Pest, this is where I am living. 

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Some things to bring back from your study abroad experience

By Hannah Wheeler, Vrije Universitiet, Netherlands

Going back home always holds challenges. Sometimes it is easy to fall back into old roles and forget about the experiences and developments that you have gone through. Even just going back from university to your home city with your family, it’s easy to slip back into old habits. This was something I was worried about when I thought about going back to Manchester after my year in Amsterdam. I was scared of returning to my default student ways. Not that all the defaults are a bad thing, but also some I had grown out of in my year away. Your environment is a massive impacting factor in how you behave and what you focus on. So naturally, moving countries will affect you. It’s not easy. 

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Bienvenue à Toulouse!

By Sarah Cross, Sciences Po Toulouse, France

I’m Sarah and I’m a PPE student studying for a year at Sciences Po in Toulouse. After what feels like countless months of admin, forms and eventually obtaining a Visa, I finally arrived here to begin my placement. The French bureaucracy has meant nothing is straightforward (partially thanks to Brexit!), so it feels great to have now spent three weeks in the ‘Pink City’.

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A Week of Living in Amsterdam

by Aimee Kinniburgh, Universiteit van Amsterdam, Netherlands

As I’m writing this, today marks one week of living in Amsterdam and what a week it’s been. It feels like a lifetime ago I left for Bristol airport and said goodbye to my life in England for the next year. This week has been full of the highest highs and also some of the lowest lows, as is often the case when you pack up your life and move countries. So I thought I would make a list of the most important things I’ve learnt after my first week in Amsterdam. I’m sure this list will only grow throughout my time here but here’s what I’ve learnt so far.

  1. Get. A. Bike. – it sounds obvious but my god life in Amsterdam is impossible without one. Swapfiets will become your best friend, even if they do give you a bike that was too big and too heavy for your small little legs to start with. Some of the best moments of your first week will be when it’s just you, your bike and some music cycling around and exploring the city so just bite the bullet and pay for a bike. 
  1. On top of this get a bike coat. You’ll think they’re ridiculous at the start but trust me you won’t care how silly you look when it’s chucking it down with rain and you’re having to cycle 40 minutes to get home. The drowned rat look is not a good one. 
  1. Campus is beautiful but very confusing so make sure you leave plenty of time to find your lecture halls and seminar rooms. It makes for some very awkward first impressions when you have to walk in late.
  1. Cooking is going to be a whole new experience in Amsterdam. Ovens seem to simply not exist out here so get ready for a lot of pasta and rice in the first few days before you figure out how to cook with only two hobs and find out where to buy spices from.
  1. Going out in Amsterdam is revolutionary. Everyone is so friendly and respectful so take advantage and chat to as many people as you can! It’s the best way to make friends and makes for some very funny stories in the morning
  2. And finally, it’s okay to feel overwhelmed and like you’ll never get settled into your new life. It’s a big deal to move to a completely different country and everything will feel too much at times but even after a week life is settling down so give it time and you’ll be fine!