August 15, 2023

How I'm Studying in Three European Countries as an Erasmus Mundus Scholar

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Elizaveta from Russia 🇷🇺

How I'm Studying in Three European Countries as an Erasmus Mundus Scholar

My name is Elizaveta and I am a master's degree student within the Erasmus Mundus Program. In the first semester, I studied at the University of Lorraine, in France and I spent the second semester in Budapest, at Karoli Gaspar University. Next semester I am going to study at the University of Minho, which is in the city of Braga in Portugal. My major is lexicography - the discipline that studies compiling dictionaries.

Quality of education

In general, the quality of these universities it's pretty high. But, I would say that the French university was more organized and there were more things for students, like accommodations, canteens, and some discounts.

Study program

We spend different semesters across Europe. While I learned in the first semester in France, others were in Germany, Portugal, and so on. However, we spent the second semester together. We had only disciplines that were dedicated to lexicography. Usually, we studied together and had special classes with guests, like lexicographers and linguists. So we were like an independent group at the university. Some facilities for students were study rooms, a subscription to Sketch Engine (a program to work with collections of texts), and dictionary subscriptions, like the Oxford English Dictionary. In addition to this, in France, we had a library with free access and wifi. Unfortunately, in Budapest, we didn't have one, so we had to use some public libraries.

Erasmus Mundus Application Process

I applied to Erasmus Mundus last March. I found this program accidentally because I have a bachelor in translation studies and I wanted to continue in this direction. I discovered the program online, on a portal where every Erasmus Mundus program was published. There you could find everything about the program, links to people who already graduated and you could keep in touch with people to find out more information.

Unfortunately, I needed to have a diploma when I applied, and thus, I wasn't eligible for this program. Therefore, I changed my major to lexicography, where I needed to have two language certificates. I had German and English certificates. For admissions, I needed to have a bunch of documents certifying that I'm still a student and I will graduate by the date I will go to study in Europe. All the documents had to be translated, so it was quite expensive, but the application itself is free. 

Besides these documents, I needed to present a motivational letter, an idea for a lexicographical project, and what I want to do in the future. There were also some recommendations, but they were optional. I submitted a recommendation letter from my place of work. I worked as a translator at a university in Russia, where I had my bachelor's degree. I was chosen among students to help our international department to translate news published on the website of the university. Also, I played in the student theater and participated in different kinds of events, including ones for children and old people. Moreover, I think that GPA was very important in the application procedure. My GPA was 5.0.

When I applied for this program, I had to choose the university that will be used for the first application, and then we had to choose the university that will be our home university. You will spend your first semester and your fourth semester there, and then they decide where the whole group will spend the second semester. In the third semester, we can decide by ourselves. Also, it was required to obtain a visa; however, sometimes it’s pretty difficult. It could be an option that when you applied for a visa and you entered Europe in the first semester, you can apply for a residence permit for the whole duration of the program.

Scholarship coverage

In the end, I managed to win a scholarship. Now, the universities pay for my tuition fee, insurance, travel costs, and studying materials, and we are paid monthly so that we have some money to live on. I think that €1000 per month or even less it's enough to travel, to pay for accommodation, and to go shopping. 

Student life in multiple locations

Sometimes this lifestyle it's challenging because when you're moving constantly, you need to have new friends in each country. Sometimes you might feel pretty lonely because there is no one around to help you and all your friends are either in your hometown or in the country you just left. It's pretty tough, but I would say that it's helping me to be more sociable.

On the other hand, it is pretty easy to make friends there, because people understand your situation. The most important thing is to participate in as many activities as possible because otherwise, you will sit in your room alone. So don't be shy, just go and you won't regret it.

At the beginning of my studies, I encountered language barriers. Especially in France, it's quite tough to live without speaking French, because not many people know English, but in Budapest, you could speak English almost everywhere.

I would say the Hungarian university provided me with the most memorable experiences, because all my classmates were there, and we helped each other. Also, Budapest is famous for its nightlife and it was nice to visit Budapest bars and cafes. The French city which I was studying wasn’t so big, but Budapest is the capital; it has everything one could imagine.

Internship in the Netherlands

To apply for the internship, I visited the website of our program. There we had a list of organizations that could accept us for an internship, so I just wrote to the coordinator in the Netherlands, I showed my CV and my motivational letter, and she said I’ll be welcome anytime. Unfortunately this year it was unpaid, but other coursemates have paid internships because they work more than one month.

My main task during this internship was to trace how English influenced other languages across the world. I just had a list of words that I needed to process by finding a definition and the etymology. I worked from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. It was pretty much, because I had only one month, and I should have around 160 hours to complete my internship, so I was pretty tired during this time. However, I had some free time in the evening, because I didn’t have any homework or written assignments during my internship as the semester was officially completed. So I had time in the evening to watch series or do other enjoyable things rather than homework. During the semester, in contrast, I had much homework.

Advice for prospective students

Don't be afraid to ask for help, because otherwise, you won't be able to deal with this huge amount of paperwork. Don't think that you are alone, because everywhere there are people who can be your friends. If you want to go explore and you don't have company, don't be afraid to go alone. Just don't miss opportunities.

My contacts

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/elsbeth.z/

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/@lizastudies

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Elizaveta
from Russia 🇷🇺

Duration of Study

Sep 2022 —

Master

Lexicography

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    Veronica

    10 months ago

    This interview was done by our amazing ambassador @nicoletacortac🫶

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