Green Mobility

The Erasmus & Study Abroad Office (ESAO) is pleased to finally introduce our ‘Green Mobility’ project – a pilot plan of action to help ESAO align our activities with the University of Reading’s institutional strategy (2020-26).

Green mobility logoThe strategy states that it is our institutional: “… long-term ambition to be the greenest university in the UK, we will lead by example and commit to genuine carbon neutrality by 2030…”. (https://www.reading.ac.uk/about/strategy.aspx )

We want Study Abroad – both ‘import’ and ‘export’ – to contribute to this long-term commitment.

The initial 24-month project is a flexible plan, aimed at supporting more environmentally friendly study and staff mobility abroad, and international education opportunities at home. It will include:

  1. Making a financial contribution to offset or inset (to be decided in conjunction with UoR Sustainability) our CO₂ emissions for every outgoing and incoming student mobility managed by ESAO, taking place in 2021/2 and 2022/3.
  2. Mandating that all Erasmus+ staff mobilities or trips funded by ESAO fully offset the return trip(s) at time of booking with the UoR Travel Management company.
  3. Raising student awareness about more environmentally friendly ways of travel and the importance of compensating for CO₂ emissions, as a routine part of Study Abroad promotion and preparation.
  4. Working with our partners to offer something reciprocal, so that our collective actions will help positive actions that might exceed the CO₂ emissions generated.
  5. Investigating the possibilities for creating climate change and sustainability pathways, sessions, activities and awards, which students studying abroad (incoming and outgoing) can participate in – here, or at our partners.
  6. Supporting greater engagement with virtual / online international learning opportunities, thereby hopefully increasing the number of students that can have a meaningful international and interactive education experience.

We will work with UoR Sustainability Office and other stakeholders at the University of Reading to review and develop the pilot into a more coherent strategy from January 2023 onwards.

We know that what we are proposing is imperfect, but it is a start. However we will learn as we progress, and will utilise the expertise at the University to improve what we do, in order to do our bit.

 

If you have any queries about the Green Mobility project, please contact Marcus Dowse (m.a.dowse@reading.ac.uk) .

 

My ERASMUS experience – 15 years past

Institute of Education lecturer Dan James recalls his own study abroad experience and how it has positively impacted his career:

So, if you are worried about doing the ERASMUS programmPhoto of Institute of Education Lecturer Dan James in a lab during his German Erasmus experience as a student.e and what it will be like living in a foreign country, that’s the very reason that you should do the ERASMUS programme.  My experience was many moons ago but having started writing about it has brought back many great memories.  Quite simply, living in Frankfurt, Germany for 3 months carrying out my research project was c.  Let me explain why:

The language:

In my first two weeks we undertook an intensive German course and this really helped (I had previously studied a German GCSE). Here I made friends with students from Portugal, Spain, Italy, America and many more countries. During weekends, we would often visit local towns and visit other attractions such as the outside ice skating in Frankfurt. The common language of the group was English which made it easy to communicate.  So, if you are not fluent in a language, don’t worry.  If you are keen to learn and immerse yourself in it, you will soon be able to have basic conversations with people.  I carried a dictionary everywhere I went, and would read all the signs I could. as well as picking up free newspapers to read on the train journey to the university.  German TV often has English subtitles so you quickly pick up words (I watched a lot of German MTV!).  At first, the response from the other person would instantly be, “Woher kommst du?” (Where do you come from).  My reply, “aus England” would then mean that they would then use it as an opportunity to practice their English.  By the end of the three months, I could have a conversation with someone in German and although they could usually detect that my accent perhaps wasn’t local, they wouldn’t instantly divert to English.

Living in a house with international students:

I was living in a house with two other German students.  This was a new experience for me as before then I had been living in halls.  I asked them to speak to me in German but when I didn’t understand we spoke in English and their English was so good.  They introduced me to many German delights such as Gluhwein and Bratwurst at the German Christmas markets. To say thank you for their patience with me, I attempted to cook them a ‘full English breakfast’.  However, doing this was not quite the same thing when using German sausage and bacon!  You quickly learn to translate the cooking instructions (or not) on the side of packets, although that doesn’t excuse me cooking a pizza with the plastic bottom still on!

The lab:

I was working in a lab with a very international mix of students and in my first couple of weeks there we went to the Alps in Austria for a team conference.  I say conference…there were some talks from the group and then in the afternoon we would hike a mountain or play volleyball, followed by lots of weiss beer.  Again, this was an opportunity to make friends.  It was a really great experience working in a proper research lab and learning new techniques.  I would have also been working in a lab in my home university but here I had one-to-one supervision from my supervisor.  I don’t think I would have received this level of support from my home university.  I want to stress, this one-to-one supervision was unique to this situation and helped me learn so much but not something you should expect as part of your ERASMUS time.

Travelling / the Oktoberfest

Photo of a public square in Frankfurt, GermanyOne of my new lab friends, Jin (from China) and I, decided to travel to the Oktoberfest in Munich.  As we couldn’t afford the rail fare for the intercity we took the local trains.  10 hours later at about 9pm, we made it!  This was our first mistake.  As we were so late all the beer tents were packed and we couldn’t get in.  Our second mistake was not booking any accommodation (and there wasn’t any available).  We ended up sleeping (or trying to sleep) on a park bench in a freezing cold October night.  I don’t think I have ever been so cold!  However, it was nothing that a couple of pints of pilsner and a weisswurst for breakfast couldn’t sort out. And I still remember the song that people were singing in the tube on the exit from Munich!

Activities outside of studying:

At the time, I was also a competitive trampolinist. I found a club in Frankfurt that was coached by the German National Youth Coach.  I was trampolining with a Ukranian international who I was in awe of as well as some kids who used to go, “schau mal” (look at me).  I was invited to a German squad demo exhibition.  Here the best German trampolinists were competing inside a ferrari garage in Frankfurt.  It was surreal.  I had to pinch myself.  I was watching elite athletes in my sport, surrounded by expensive cars, in a different country.

When I came back / what happened afterwards.

I was able to do a German proficiency exam and scrape a pass which was added to my degree transcript.  However, some people go to Germany and don’t speak a word of German the entire time they are there.  You can survive without, but for me it was an important part of immersing myself in the culture.

Most importantly, it gave me a renewed energy for my studies.  After 3 years, I had become jaded and my final year, including my ERASMUS Autumn term was definitely my happiest and most focused year.

It is only through having this experience that in my later adult life, I decided to have a gap year where I went to become a ski instructor in Austria for a season.  I had to do the ski instructor course and sit the exam in German – it was hard work.  The best bit was a beat some of the native speakers in the theory exam!  Without my ERASMUS experience, I am not sure if I would have been happy to travel to a country by myself with no certainty of work.

 

This is the first time I have recounted some of these stories from 15 years ago.  That is what the ERASMUS programme gave me…unique experiences and an understanding of another country and its people.  I would absolutely make the same choice if I could go back in time.

 

As a result, I am now passionate about supporting the Study Abroad students in the Institute of Education and would love to hear from any of our home students from the IoE in Reading who are interested in talking about doing ERASMUS next year, whether that be in Germany or elsewhere.  I might even tell you the stories that I couldn’t tell here! 🙂

Erasmus Days (16 October 2020)

erasmus days screenshot

On 16 October 2020 the Erasmus & Study Abroad organised an institutional celebration of our longstanding participation in the Erasmus programme – part of the wider European Union #ErasmusDays celebrations (taking place between 15-17 October).

Students, staff and alumni provided testimony, images, videos and stories about their Erasmus experiences – both incoming and outgoing – highlighting what Erasmus means to them, how Erasmus has benefitted them and sharing information about their experiences.

The day included:

  • Live Q&A about the Erasmus programme
  • Loads of social media – quizzes, sharing images and stories etc
  • Our first Erasmus & Study Abroad podcast (with contributions from staff and students).
  • Video from our Pro Vice-Chancellor International talking about the importance of Erasmus and mobility schemes, in general.

Lots of information and wonderful stories shared on the day, much of which is still available on our website at: https://studyabroad.reading.ac.uk/erasmusdays2020/

Thanks to all who contributed to making the day an enjoyable success and reaffirming that mobility programmes such as Erasmus play an important part in student’s academic and personal development and growth.

 

Erasmus & Study Abroad team

Online Fall School IES University of Tübingen

 

 

“Divided in Diversity” – The European Union in Crisis?

November 30 – December 23, 2020

The program provides an overview of the historical, cultural and political framework of European integration, and addresses the current challenges Europe and the EU face today: Brexit, immigration, political fragmentation and radicalization, the EU’s democratic deficit and foreign policy challenges. Furthermore, class sessions will introduce participants to the history and trajectory of human rights in Europe, questions of collective (national) identity and how it is shaped by current developments.

 


  • APPLICATION DEADLINE: 31 October
  • Erasmus & Study Abroad Office will cover the program fee (€175) for up to 5 successful UoR applicants for the University of Tübingen online fall school (Taught in cooperation with Oregon State University (OSU)).
  • Full information available from: https://uni-tuebingen.de/en/182458
  • Successful participation on the University of Tübingen online fall school will be recognised on your UoR transcript as a non-credit / extra-curricular module

 

If you have any queries please contact: international.office@uni-tuebingen.de or  studyabroad@reading.ac.uk

 


Important:

  • Before applying you should discuss this with your Study Abroad Coordinator – any recompense of programme fees is dependent on their approval to participate.
  • In general students are expected to pay for the programme to the University of Tübingen direct, with a refund being processed upon provision of a receipt of payment to the Erasmus & Study Abroad Office (students in financial hardship should contact studyabroad@reading.ac.uk for further information)
  • Recompense of the program fees will be distributed on a ‘first-come, first-served’ basis i.e. the first 5 students notifying the Erasmus & Study Abroad Office of successful application will be recompensed, providing they have their Study Abroad Coordinator approval to participate.
  • Attendance on the online fall school must not be to the detriment of your University of Reading studies – University of Reading academic commitments must take priority.
  • Please confirm with the Erasmus & Study Abroad Office if you intend to apply.
  • Students will be required to provide testimonial to and be interviewed by the Erasmus & Study Abroad Office upon completion of the course.

#skillsdeveloment #knowledgegains #studyabroad #readingabroad #erasmusandstudyabroad #internationaleducation

#ErasmusDays2020 – We Need You!!!

Erasmus Days 2020Are you an ex-Reading student who participated on the Erasmus programme? Or are you a current Erasmus student, either studying abroad with or at the University of Reading? If so, we need you….

We plan to celebrate the University’s longstanding participation in the Erasmus programme on Friday 16 October 2020 as part of the wider-European #ErasmusDays2020 celebrations. Given the current global pandemic we need to do this virtually rather than physically, but this provides us with the opportunity to bring more people together online to celebrate and share their thoughts.

We looking for either:

  • Short video testimonials (no more than 20-30 seconds – from your camera or laptop)
  • Short written testimonial with photos (we love photos!)

on one or more of the following themes:

  1. What Erasmus means to you?
  2. What is your Erasmus experience like?
  3. How has Erasmus benefitted you?
  4. Why do you think other students (or staff) should participate on Erasmus?

Whatever you provide will be used on our social media accounts and our website (https://studyabroad.reading.ac.uk/ ) to promote Erasmus programme and study abroad at the University of Reading (hence we will need your explicit permission to use the material you provide).

If interested in helping us please can you email studyabroad@reading.ac.uk for further information. We need to hear from you by 12noon Tuesday 13 October.

We are proud of our long-standing participation in the programme (30+ years), the partnerships and connections we have made (and helped make), and the experiences we have helped provide to students and staff – both incoming and outgoing.

But it is your stories that we want to see and hear, as you have helped make the Erasmus programme what is it.

We look forward to hearing from you!

 

Erasmus & Study Abroad Office

 

 

Study Abroad Programme Hints & Tips

Arriving soon to join the Study Abroad Programme? Here are some useful hints and tips to be aware of!

Packing:

  1. Pack an empty shoebox in your suitcase, so that you have space for souvenirs from your life in the UK when you return home.
  2. Bring some small mementos from home to personalise your room and make it your own.
  3. You will be able to access the books, journal articles and other resources you need for your modules through the University Library, so no need to buy books and bring them with you. If you do find when you get here that you’d like to buy a book, the student bookshop on campus, Blackwell’s, sells many second hand books.

Money:

  1. Most shops and businesses in the UK will accept debit / credit cards, for contactless and chip and pin payment. The most common card types in the UK are Visa and Mastercard. Some smaller shops may charge you for card transactions below a certain amount, e.g. £5.
  2. If you’re bringing some UK cash (Pound Sterling / GBP / £), try to avoid bringing £50 notes, as these are not widely used or accepted by shops and other businesses. If all you can get are £50 notes, you may be able to change these for smaller denomination notes (£5, £10, £20) at a bank, Post Office, or bureau de change.

Travel:

  1. Reading Buses, the bus company for the town of Reading, runs many bus service 24 hours, 7 days per week. This includes the University buses 21 and 21a.
  2. Get a Railcard if you’re planning to use the trains. Which card you can get depends on your age: either the 16 – 25 Railcard, or the 26 – 30 Railcard. Students over 30 can apply for the 16 – 25 Railcard as a mature student. Both give a third off in discount on many regular rail fares.
  3. Reading has very good public transport links to major UK airports. Use the RailAir coach service to travel between Reading and Heathrow Airport. Use the Great Western Railway train service to travel between Reading and Gatwick Airport.

Modules & Timetables:

  1. The process will be different to what you are used to, however the Erasmus & Study Abroad Office (ESAO) team are here to help.
  2. Be prepared to be flexible: sometimes the timetable will prevent certain combinations of modules, so an alternative will be needed. Make sure you keep in regular contact with ESAO and your home university if you need to do this.
  3. Make sure you follow ESAO deadlines for submitting documents, to make sure that you have the modules and timetable you need ready as soon as possible for the start of term.

Student Life:

  1. If you have housemates in halls or in other accommodation, make sure you introduce yourself to them. Housemates can be a very useful way of getting to know the University and the UK.
  2. Reading University Students’ Union (RUSU) is run by students, for students. Make sure you keep up with what’s going on there via their website, social media, and posters in the RUSU building.

If you have any other hints and tips, please let us know via studyabroad@reading.ac.uk!

One of the best years of my life

I have not been paid by the Erasmus & Study Abroad Office to say that my year in Reading has been one of the best experiences of my life, to say the least. I have met amazing people, seen beautiful places, learned so many things and I can even say I’ve changed!

I came to Reading with much enthusiasm at the end of September 2018 to spend the whole academic year. Thanks to a friend from my home university who had come to the University of Reading a few years ago, I joined three adorable English girls of my age to share a house in town. They quickly became much more than housemates, dear friends, who I stay in contact with today. As they were in the Reading University Christian Union, they invited me to events where I met their very nice and welcoming friends.

I also got to make other friends thanks to the Welcome Week organised by the University. As so, I met with a group of people from various backgrounds and nationalities at a board games and pizza night. We kept meeting for the whole year, playing many games and sharing plenty of food and fun. I have to say if I hadn’t gone to that event I would have probably never met my boyfriend… If I had been told I was about to meet so many incredible people AND to find love in Reading, I don’t know if I would have believed it!

Regarding studies – because that was supposed to be the main point of the trip –, I was in Henley Business School for my final year in management. The teaching team was excellent, I am really thankful I had those lecturers and seminar teachers because they played a crucial role in my understanding of the modules. Moreover, the few contact hours allowed me enough time to study well at home.

In addition to the quality of the teaching, the University of Reading offers a huge and beautiful campus, including my favourite place: the Harris Garden! I really appreciated having this small peaceful park to walk, admiring the colourful flowers and the playful squirrels.

I also want to add that in the University of Reading there is a staff team that is very welcoming, kind and ready to help, as well as available and efficient. I especially include the Erasmus & Study Abroad Office (special thanks to Chris!) and the Students Union that both provided help and advice in different matters, not only concerning university. As we are young students in a different country, it is very appreciable to know that we will always find someone to help. I could write a novel about my year there but this has to be a bit shorter, so I’ll just conclude by recommending going to study at the University of Reading! I don’t think it is possible to have a bad experience there, at least I hope not. I am currently making an album with pictures, items and comments of my year because it has been so amazing!

A year of development

My name is Sandra. My professional passion is human behaviour and inspiring & encouraging people to use all their potential and talents. Hence, I would like to share my experience of being an Erasmus student, to give you a kind push to do it – because trust me, it will change your life in ways you can’t even imagine!

I was an Erasmus student at UoR in 2018/2019, doing my last year of my undergraduate in psychology. I am originally from Denmark, but have ended up staying in England, as I am currently studying an MSc in Organisational Psychiatry and Psychology at King’s College London – and honestly, I have no plans of retuning to Denmark, looking at how many opportunities this year has brought me!

Arriving in Reading I didn’t know a single person, but within the first 2 days of welcome week I had established a network of students from all over the world and all sorts of different faculties – a network that I spend hours and hours with, and that I’m still in contact with today. These people have contributed to so many great memories and learning opportunities, and whenever one of us was struggling, we always helped and supported each other. UoR definitely facilitated this through the great amount of welcome events and societies – it’s just a matter of taking the first step of showing up, then the rest comes naturally. Yet I must admit that due to my passion of dancing and the amount of time I spend dancing, most of my friends outside university was in the dance environment in Reading (and that is absolutely amazing!). So, Reading facilitates friendships both at university and outside university!!!

Academically I had the opportunity the explore more than just psychology, as both my home university and UoR accepted me applying for modules on other faculties, that in different ways supported psychology and the career path I had planned. Hence, I did modules in psychology, law and business – enjoying sharing knowledge between the different faculties with my fellow students and discussing with the great teachers how everything could be interconnected. Though sounding very different, they complement each other very well, and I can see how this diversity of modules has contributed to me in my current MSc. So, don’t be scared to explore new fields and try to create your own education – you might, like me, get a bunch of awesome modules that somehow help you understand each of them better!

Obviously, it’s not just fun and amazing – life has its ups and downs, but when university gets stressful there is amazing support. The UK way of doing university is very different from in Denmark, which affected my studies as I had to do my dissertation at the same time as all exams at UoR. It was very stressful, but I found a lot of good support from the Erasmus office and the friends I made in Reading. And even though it was tough, I still managed to reach my goal of getting into KCL and at the same time learning and realising, that “I got it!” even though it’s hard. I got to know my own strength in a completely new way, and through this I developed a lot.

Concluding, my time at UoR has contributed to so much more than my education. Both socially and personally I’ve benefited so much from the year, and I’m so much more prepared for what life brings now!

Reading, my one and only

The University of Reading was my fourth university in fours years. After the first year in Prague, studying philosophy of art in the historical centre of Prague in a class of 20 people, I moved to France, to study at the University of Nantes. In the first year, we were 900 students taking the degree in English on the old campus of concrete where we had to fight for our places as only 50% of students got into the second year. For the second year, I transferred to Toulouse, where the level of English was very demanding, and during the second semester the university had been closed due to the university strike for four months. I therefore had plenty of time to prepare for my Erasmus in Reading. I had been looking forward to it more than I could admit, because I knew how easily things could go wrong. But this time, I was more than lucky.

The University of Reading received me with open arms. From the beginning, everything went so smoothly; the administration, the settling down, the accommodation. I instantly fell in love with the beautiful green campus. I felt very cosy in the St George’s Hall, where I had a chance to share the flat with another Spanish Erasmus student, and students from Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, and the UK. I think this was the first time I actually went through the cultural shock of how people can perceive reality differently. On the other hand, we were all students with shared the devotion to our studies and struggles of everyday university life. We spent some amazing times together cooking, celebrating birthdays, or visiting some of the many restaurants in Reading. After two years in France where I always felt like a foreigner because of my Czech accent, on the University of Reading campus I felt at ease thanks to its international and welcoming ambience.

I was surprised by the low number of contact hours. I was used to 20 to 25 hours per week whereas in England it was only 9 in my case. But I grew to appreciate it, because it allowed me to study the specific topics while spending long hours in my favourite Library@URS building, which does not close apart from Saturday night. As my degree does not exist in England my modules were spread across four departments within second and third year . I found it extraordinary. Some of them were easy, and some of them almost impossible  i.e. a 3rd year politics module when I have no background in political studies. But I think that this is exactly what an experience of living abroad should consist of and I am grateful for it.

I had also a lot of free time and that was my favourite part about my year in Reading. There were so many options! I chose boxing. I actually had the idea to pick up boxing before leaving for Reading, and I found out about the boxing society before my departure. I cannot easily describe how much I enjoyed and appreciated it. Maybe because boxing has this aggressive side, the atmosphere in the gym was very calm, friendly and concentrated. The society made a real effort for girls to feel welcomed in the gym and the president of the society, Vincent,and other members of the society, who trained us, were patient and kind. I believe that my enthusiasm was seen as I was rewarded as one of four most improved boxers.

I also decided to try apply for a job on campus, because I always liked the job of barista and I thought of it as of a great opportunity to meet a lot of different people and gain confidence with my English. Which is why I felt very lucky when I got the job. The process was so easy! I applied through Campus Jobs which was linked with my University account, went for an interview and after four induction sessions I happened to work on a Friday afternoon alone in the Library@URS building cafe. It had a great effect on my sense of belonging. This is the reason why the smell of the freshly blended coffee is definitely one of the strongest memories of my Erasmus year. I was again so lucky with the team of supervisor (thank you Renata and Jason for being so nice and patient with us!) and coworkers.

I chose Reading for its accessibility, as I needed to be able to fly to France and the Czech Republic often. It was magical to go to a concert to London and to come back on the same night to my own bed. I loved the visits to Oxford. But apart from one trip to Edinburgh I did not really travel around and it feels right. Because I felt, after a long time, at home. I believe that the University of Reading is an amazing place to stay and live. The everyday life it has so much to offer. One can leave a party at 2 a.m. in the Students‘ Union and come back at 11 a.m. for a farmers market for fresh vegetables which is literally spread on the dancefloor. You can spend hours in nature, while still being on the campus. Get a first for your hard work. Or become a boxer. And barista. And get to meet so many extraordinary people from all over the world. In the end, and I am so much grateful to my university in Toulouse for sending me to Reading.

Thank you Reading for being my one and only.

Your friends are never far away on campus

I could probably try to explain my time at the University of Reading in words and still not fully be able to explain just how incredible it was. However, I will try my best to give you a taste of what it felt like to study and live on the University’s Whiteknights campus.

I myself lived across the lake that is on the campus, which made me incredibly lucky as the view from my room consisted of trees, grass and water. Extremely calming, something that most definitely came in handy the (more than a) couple of times I got stressed. The whole Whiteknights campus is covered in trees, meadows, flowers and little rivers. This provided for excellent morning walks or for a great excuse on those many days where you really should be studying, but the weather is just too nice.

The best thing about campus life, aside from the great grassy views (can you tell I’m a nature-lover?), is that your friends are never far away. Just a quick text and 5 minutes later you are having a coffee at one of the cafes on campus. The community feel that the campus provides makes sure you never have to feel alone. There is always someone to hang out with between classes or something new to try, e.g. the food stalls or the fruit and veg market on each term time Thursday. As most of my friends stayed on campus for the full day, working together in the Library easily became the norm. With many cups of coffee, studying became incredibly fun, even during exam time.

However, if you feel like you need to get out of the studying drag and into some more fast-paced living, London is only half an hour away by train. I got used to going to London twice a month as a self-proclaimed, well-deserved break from studying. London quickly became a second home and it was great to have the time to explore the lesser known parts of the city.

Reading is situated in an ideal area of England as there are many direct trains to cities up north and down south, and direct links with many of the London airports. It made exploring the entire UK extremely easy and incredibly fun. As most UK student cities have many youth hostels, travelling through the UK was not even that expensive. Even when travelling alone, you would always meet people in a new city with whom you could explore.

Aside from all the great trips I made, the level of education at the University of Reading was high and the professors I had were excellent and extremely kind. Everything was easy to arrange and whenever a problem did arise, everyone you talked to was approachable, kind and helpful. I had an incredible year at the University of Reading and I could not recommend my study abroad experience at Reading enough (and will probably not stop talking about it for a while either). I am already missing my time here on campus.