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Vous êtes ici : Accueil > Rubriques > Vie Erasmus

(EN) Lise's adventures in Prague

Lise profil.jpg
Since my third year of Bachelor of Law, the Czech Republic is a country I have a great affection for. My name is Louise, and I am going to take you on the road of my adventure with the people of Prague.

Why an Erasmus?

Erasmus was a program I had been considering since I first entered the université. It was obvious for me: I had to spend a year in a foreign country, to improve my English but also my open-mindedness. I wanted to spend a year in total immersion in foreign land.

Why Prague?

At first, I really hesitated about the destination. I first considered the UK, but I quickly realized that it would be financially difficult. I preferred a country where the general life cost would be lower and where I could travel and really enjoy myself. A friend told me about the Czech Republic. I looked up some information and I decided to make it my first choice! I applied for an Erasmus at the Charles University of Prague, and simply went !

The paperwork

Everyone has seen “L'Auberge Espagnole” (released in some English-speaking territories as “Pot Luck” or “The Spanish Apartment”) and knows about the struggle of the paperwork. I was then ready to crawl under it. But I was, in the contrary, positively surprise because it was quite simple before the departure. The formalities are done mainly by the university, leaving the student with not so much to do except for the cover letter, an English proficiency test, a motivation interview, and provide a list of the courses they are planning to enroll to  in the foreign university. Personally, I had written the cover letter in advance, so I just had to choose the list of classes on the university’s website. I then prepared myself a bit for the English test in order to have the required level of proficiency, but I admit I hadn’t really prepared the motivation interview, which is one of the most important steps! When I received the notification of acceptance, I jumped of joy and I then just longed one thing: finish my second year to go on an adventure! I filled in a few files for my registration at the University of Prague and that was it. I then had to take care of the grant application: as I was already receiving a grant in France, I was eligible to a scholarship from the CROUS, to a grant for international mobility, and to a grant from the region. This financial help, alongside the savings I had made while working several jobs, allowed me to be more serene to go on my Erasmus. For the people currently not receiving a grant in France that want to go on an Erasmus, I recommend to make an simulation on the website of the CROUS, because the fact of going far away adds some weight to the application and one might even become eligible to a grant!


The accommodation

Having refused to stay at a student house which was very far from the center, I had to find an accommodation by myself. The summer before leaving, I joined several Facebook groups looking for “THE shared flat” that would make my Erasmus unforgettable. In the end, I hadn’t found an apartment before leaving, preferring to search on-site and to avoid rip-offs. Instead, I met on Facebook a French girl, and even though her priority was to be in total immersion and to have foreign flatmates, it turned out that we got along very well. We then decided to look for other flatmates and a shared flat together. I have to admit, if I had to do it again, I would do it differently. Our research on-site were very difficult, even unsuccessful, and it took us more and a month and a half to find an apartment and potential flatmates, going from hostels to AirBnb’s and other AirBnb’s. I thus highly recommend finding aflat before arriving, if possible!


The departure from France and my first steps on Czech land

Honestly, when I look back at it, I still laugh! I had no idea of what I was going to experience. I was leaving for a foreign land both excited and a bit sad of leaving my family and my friends, and most of all, I had huge suitcases filled with useless things. I arrived in Prague at the last minute, the week-end before the classes started. At the beginning, we arrive in an unknown city in which we have no ties, but it’s true that at the end of the year it is difficult to leave the city because we have some habits and have experienced a lot in it. The beginnings in Prague were difficult. I was under the impression that Czech people weren’t very welcoming or didn’t want any foreigners in their country. In the end, this impression cleared up and nowadays, I tell myself that if I ever get a job offer there, I would go without hesitating.

Looking at the classed, we were only grouped with other Erasmus (careful, it may be different depending on each uni and you might be mixed with other foreign students) and Czech people had classes separately. The professors were very available and relied on Powerpoint presentations they would send us at the end of every class, and I was able to study things I would never have been able to in French Bachelors (bioethics law, sports law,…). Indeed, we might have had fewer classes than in France, but I nonetheless learnt a lot of things and this year was very formative.

When I left, I told myself that nothing would change back in France. But in the end, upon my return, I saw things completely differently. I was far from imagining, in the beginning, all that this Erasmus would bring me – new encounters, friendships, travels, parties, adventures,… In the end, I only remember one thing, which is the happiness of having lived that experience and of having discovered extraordinary cultures. This Erasmus years was by far the best of my life, the most rewarding and the most fulfilling.

 

I made a real tour of Europe, going to Slovakia, Austria, Hungary, Germany, I went on roadtrips in Croatia, Slovenia, in Montenegro, but I also went to Sweden, Finland, Norway, and even Lapland. These trips were very fulfilling, they turned my Erasmus into a unique experience and they were also very formative. I shared unforgettable moments with people who a few months earlier were complete strangers and with whom I laughed, cried, shared my doubts, but most of all, with whom I lived. One can’t imagine, before an Erasmus, the relationships they can create, the family we can build during such an experience, and I will never thank those people enough, those who made my Erasmus the best year of my life. Erasmus is truly a life experience. No day would go by without someone coming to our flat. It was a lively place, always busy, and this is what I wanted to go back to when I returned to Toulouse and getting a shared flat. My Erasmus allowed me to be independent, to try things I would never have tried before. I also ended my Erasmus by going to Poland by myself, with a little backpack, something I would have never thought of doing before I went to my Erasmus.


After the Erasmus?

A few days after returning from my Erasmus, I started a summer job, which made going back to reality very complicated. A true disillusionment. An Erasmus is really a distinct year in a life, a moment of dream and recklessness that makes us grow, and I think that everybody should grasp this opportunity. We talk a lot about Erasmus, but we rarely talk about the after-Erasmus. For me, it was very difficult to go back to the life I had left, and I sometimes wasn’t quite understood by the people that hadn’t left. Having talked to other former Erasmus people, I realised that they shared the same sensation, that they felt they had matured during this experience and that certain aspects of their lives or their affinities no longer fit them anymore.

In order to make this period of uncertainty a bit better, I decide to join a student organization that both promotes student mobility and welcomes foreign students in Toulouse, the ESN Toulouse. This organization helped me have “something else” besides the university but also to meet people coming back from their Erasmus or arriving in Toulouse for their Erasmus.

One thing is certain, it’s been more than a year since I came back from my Erasmus and this desire to go back and live abroad hasn’t left me. I’m currently a student in the Master 2 European law and labor sciences and I’m about to go spend my second semester in a London University!

The final words: I would say that we meet so many people during this year of Erasmus that returning to our daily routine in France can be very difficult and that our daily life seems very monotonous. But if we all have to come back at some point, it is only to make it easier to leave again !

Lise Despeyrou

Student in Master 2 European law and labor sciences

Previously a volunteer at the ESN Toulouse (Erasmus Student Network) – More information: https://www.facebook.com/esnaser.toulouse/


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