Fifth year students ran a fascinating workshop for 2nd year students, who were interested in an Erasmus placement. The 5th year students, who’d spend 3 months each in Paris, Nantes and Madrid, enthusiastically shared their stories and anecdotes.
The main message of the workshop was that an Erasmus placement is a fantastic opportunity and a great deal of fun! The passion and enthusiasm from the students came across strongly when they talking about their experiences, which hopefully inspired the younger students to apply for Erasmus.
They discussed the differences in doing a placement abroad, and said you often get poorer clinical experiences compared to Wales. They felt you spent more time observing than doing, although stressed this is not a reason to rule out Erasmus. You may need to work a bit harder when you return to Wales, but they all passed their exams and feel it was worth it!
Another difficulty they all shared was poor organisation and lack of information about their placements. They believed this could be overcome by getting some advice from previous Erasmus students, and happily shared their contact details for anyone wanting further advice.
Some 2nd year students asked advice on how to cope with the different languages. One of the 5th year students had only done a language up to GCSE, whilst another had previously work in the country so it was interesting hearing the different experiences. They shared tips about how to improve your language skills before going and reassured the younger students they’ll quickly pick up the language whilst out there.
Although some of the draw backs of Erasmus were discussed, the clear message of the session was Erasmus is an incredible experience and highly recommended.
Rhian Thomas, 5th Year Medical Student
Five fifth year students today talked to second years about their experiences on Erasmus programmes all over Europe. The Erasmus happens all over Europe, and the students talking went to a selection of countries.
Approximately twenty people in each year apply for Erasmus, regardless of academic progress. It is ideal if you speak a language to an already high level – i.e. A Level. The students spoke about how the more proficient you were at language beforehand the better time you had. Contrastingly, they mentioned how the medical teaching may not have been as good abroad as it would have been in Wales. However with careful revision and studying when back in the UK, the students didn’t have a problem with the academic side of medicine
Helen Jeckel said, “It was a pleasure to be able to share my experiences with such an enthusiastic group of second years, many of whom are interested in going on elective.”
Freddie Searight added, “I do not know anyone who went on Erasmus who regretted it.”
The balance of both the good points and bad points of Erasmus was highlighted. The financial implications of elective were also illustrated to the year 2s as well as the application process.
To summarise, in the words of fifth year student Mollie Routledge “I’d do it again any time!”
So you may have heard stories of people heading off to random places across the globe to ‘study,’ and thought ‘that sounds cool!’ You have the opportunity to be that person!
Erasmus opened my eyes to new experiences, new healthcare systems, new challenges, and most of all a new culture and a new language.
Cardiff University provides excellent opportunities to study in various locations across Europe through their Erasmus programmes. I grasped this once in a lifetime opportunity to enjoy living in Paris for 3 months. I undertook five weeks placement in obs and gynae, and five weeks in the paediatric department in a hospital in central Paris.
What were my worries about Erasmus?
- Language; spending 10 weeks in a French hospital, being taught in French and conducting consultations in French may come across as quite daunting…and it was! Having barely spoken any French for almost 4 years and suddenly being totally immersed in the language and culture was a very intimidating experience. However, I would urge anyone considering undertaking an Erasmus to not allow the language barrier to stop them. It was terrifying at first, but after the first few days I soon became comfortable in the environment and my language skills rapidly started to evolve. The best way to learn and improve upon a language is to throw yourself in at the deep end.
- Learning how to adapt to a new healthcare system; I was worried about how much clinical experience and teaching I would get in France. Yes, the system was different, but essentially patients still have similar problems. The hospitals are also very keen at giving you hands on experience, which resulted in me delivering a French baby all by myself, as well as conducting some consultations by myself before relaying to a senior doctor. Anything any of us felt we missed out on in teaching on placement was made up for when we returned to Cardiff, and we probably overcompensated, meaning we ended up with more clinical experience than the medical students who stayed in Wales. This may seem intimidating, but we got to experience the beauty and romance of Paris whilst studying. Lunch-breaks by the Seine with a baguette and cheese really can’t be beaten!
What did I gain from my Erasmus experience?
- I vastly improved my spoken and written language skills beyond anything I’d ever achieved when learning in school.
- I got a chance to travel and immerse myself in French culture, and learn more about myself and what I want from life.
- I experienced a different healthcare system and broadened my horizons regarding our NHS, its positives and also things that we can learn from healthcare in other countries.
- I improved my confidence in many ways, including conducting consultations and communication with patients, and directing myself around new cities in a different language.
- I made many new friends, and had the time of my life with them!
If you’re worried about whether your French isn’t good enough, or whether you might miss out educationally then put these fears to one side, because I was worried about these things too, but you will be fine! This is an amazing opportunity…don’t miss out! You’ll regret not going for this someday…