I can surely say most of us like to travel. And there’s probably no better time to do that than in the students years. But how can you manage travelling during the school year? The answer is ERASMUS.
ERASMUS is the European educational program which allows you to travel and study at almost any country in Europe. Our student Susanna Wincor is one of the pioneers among JMLU students who are taking part in this exchange program. So she might be probably the best source to get to know about all the insights of ERASMUS.
ME: Hey Susi! Which country are you at? Which university?
SUSI: I am doing my ERASMUS semester in Rome, at the Saint Louis College of Music.
ME: Why did you choose Italy?
SUSI: To be honest I’ve chosen this country because I like the Italian culture. I didn’t know much about St. Louis College of Music. But my best friends are Italian, I grew up surrounded by Italians. So I was sure I would like to live in Italy because their culture was familiar to me.
ME: What are the requirements for a JAM student to participate in this exchange program?
SUSI: I think the requirements are pretty much the same as for every student in every university that participates in ERASMUS. The application form consists of 2 parts. The first part is to fill out several papers, where you are asked about all the basic information about yourself (like your birthday, place of birth etc.), what are you studying, which year are you at and so on. The second part consists of your CV and a motivation letter, both are to be sent to the university you’ve chosen. Finally, when I got their positive answer I was asked to sign a learning agreement. In this document I was offered to choose the subjects I wanted to take (TIP: watch out the minimum amount of ECTS points you have to collect).
ME: Do you have to speak the language of the country you are going to or not necessarily?
SUSI: No, not necessarily. But it will be a big advantage for you if you do. Of course, all teachers in St. Louis College do speak English. But if you don’t speak the local language you miss all the jokes during the class. And they make A LOT of jokes.
By the way, what I find very cool is that there are Italian language classes for ERASMUS students offered to you once a week.
ME: Do you feel it is an important experience for you?
SUSI: I definitely feel this experience is important for me. I feel it’s not just studying what you get there. It’s a deep dive into a new culture, the surrounding of new people and friends. For some, maybe even a possibility to find a new home.
In terms of studying process I also think participating in ERASMUS brings its fruits. I feel like I have to do so much in this university. Although there’s much work I can also get so much from it. It’s incredible how much you learn in this rather short period of time. Especially interesting how things I’ve learnt at JAM are being explained from a different angle here in St.Louis College of Music.
ME: Are there any specific details you like/don’t like about study process in that Uni?
SUSI: Well, not speaking about a specific university, but in general I must say the participants have to be ready to work hard. On the one hand that is really cool because you are in the music 24/7. All the new people, new routine, new city – that all inspires you. But it still can be exhausting on the other hand.
What I love indeed is how passionate the teachers are to their work. For example, in one of my ensemble classes our prof actually plays the piano because we don’t have a piano player. So the teacher is the part of the band. And we all are enjoying that a lot.
But where I felt some stress is that at every class I’m getting 2-3 new songs to prepare for the next lesson. It wouldn’t be a problem if I didn’t have 8 subjects ☺
ME: What would you recommend for those who are planning to apply for ERASMUS next semester?
SUSI: Although I’ve been complaining about the hard work, it’s definitely worth it. And if you don’t manage to get fully prepared with all of the songs (or another home task you got) teachers usually understand that. I already had that situation and they didn’t go mad at me or anything.
What a student has to keep in mind is that it’s not only them being new to you, but also you are new to them. So they might test you a little bit in the beginning to get to know you better and quicker. I would recommend to do as much work as you can, and you will gain and learn so much from it. Not only speaking about studying but also the life aspects. After all, moving to another country is a great chance to expand your horizons: get acquainted with new culture, new food, maybe even learn another language.
And the last but not least: probably there will be moments when you miss home or when the sun isn’t shining that bright and rainbows are not everywhere like you expected them to be. But this blues is gone pretty fast so just get over it. Speaking for myself I’d say this experience gives me inspiration and it has already opened my eyes on what I want to do in future.