Hey! I’m Mark, a third year Pharmacy student here at Cardiff. My Erasmus adventure began one cold October morning, when Heledd, from the Global Opportunities Centre, came in to give a talk on the Erasmus programme. The programme allows students to spend time studying or working abroad, though Cardiff University. Despite not being something I’d ever considered, or even knew to be a possibility, I decided to go along to the talk – what was there to lose?
I initially picked a placement in Munich, but sadly they were unable to accommodate me, but through perseverance (and a lot of help from the Erasmus coordinator), I was able a secure a placement at the University of Regensburg, in the Pharmacology & Toxicology department.
The placement had to be at least sixty days in duration. I organised mine from the beginning of June to the beginning of August, to allow for resits. On paper, sixty days didn’t seem so long, but as June drew closer, it dawned on me just what I’d signed myself up for – I was to be alone in a new country, not knowing anyone and with an incredibly basic grasp of the language. Suffice to say, I was more than nervous when stepping off the plane.
My room was good, an upgrade from Uni Halls for sure, in a flat with six German students. They all were really friendly and made me feel very much at home, not least because they spoke English! I quickly discovered, however, that the German semester is a little different to the UK; exams there finish in late July. This meant that my flatmates spent most of their time studying, so I had to occupy myself. Initially, I tried to find other students who were in Regensburg over summer, but the majority of students do Erasmus for a full term, so had already gone home, or were getting ready to leave. This gave me a great opportunity to travel – over the eight weeks I was able to visit Germany (Hamburg, Munich), Austria (Vienna), Slovakia (Bratislava), Czech Republic (Pilsen, Prague), Hungary (Budapest) and thoroughly explore Regensburg too!
Academically, my Erasmus placement allowed me to see first hand the research that goes on in the pharmacy department of a university, and work alongside some of the most recognised professors in their field. It has given me a really useful insight into both working in a research environment and also working abroad.
For anyone considering an Erasmus placement, I’d strongly recommend it. There is no denying, it is a long time to be away from family and friends, but if anything it has made me more appreciative of them and more excited for my return. Granted it is expensive, even with the support provided by the University (around £650), but experiences that it provided me were priceless. I was able to explore Europe, make new friends and discover a new side to my degree. If you’re unsure about doing a placement like this, just go for it!
Read my full Erasmus blog at blogs.cardiff.ac.uk/regensblog/