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Monday, November 07, 2016

Leaving home for the first time - an Erasmus diary

Leaving home is a hard thing to do, but for most University students, it is part of their course through the Erasmus programme and is unavoidable. 
Some take it on as close to home as possible and go to the UK, coming home most weekends, while others use the opportunity to go somewhere unlikely and experience a completely different culture. 
I was one of the latter and I went to Norway on Erasmus, while in the University of Limerick.

Starting this month, the Quinn's Quandries blog will play host to an Erasmus diary by Cork girl Áine Curtin. This is the first entry just before she got ready to leave. 
I have enjoyed reading her work and following her on her travels, so I hope you will too.

Áine Curtin who will be writing an Erasmus diary for Quinn's Quandries.
Leaving home for the first time
BY  ÁINE CURTIN
I suppose the first thing I need to do is introduce myself, my name is Áine Curtin and I am going to Ghent, Belgium on Erasmus until Christmas as part of my New Media and English course in the University of Limerick.
I am a third year student and this is by far the biggest challenge I have faced in the quest to earn my degree.
I have enjoyed a summer at home in Rockchapel, North Cork, doing next to nothing and taking things easy, watching an obscene amount of TV and YouTube.
Thankfully, I am not taking on this Belgian terrain all on my lonesome, I am being joined by three of my closest friends from college, Eilís, Maoilíosa and Roisin, so I’m hoping that the dreaded homesickness I’ve heard so much about will not strike too often.
Despite the recent terror scares in Belgium, a topic I spoke about on air on Live95FM, while doing my work experience, I am not reluctant to travel to that part of Europe.
While the attacks were unthinkable and deplorable in every way, I feel that you cannot let terror rule your world and I will not let it stop me from pursuing a dream to study abroad, see what the world has to offer and living my life to the full.

The lead up to leaving my cosy bedroom and the wonders of familiarity
I have been going crazy with worry the last few days trying to organise everything, planning what I will and won’t bring with me.
I have a serious problem with limiting myself with luggage (I have been known to bring seven bags to the Gaeltacht), so I plan on utilising whatever packing hacks I can find online and no doubt, emergency supplies will be brought over with family visitors or maybe even sent with a care package of home comforts (hint hint).
We have a lot of communication going on between the group members travelling and it can be a bit daunting, but the positives most certainly outweigh the negatives and it means that I am up-to-date with what has to be done and for when.
There is a crazy amount of paperwork to fill in and things to remember, for example, when going on Erasmus you still have to register with and pay fees to your own college.
I am a terrible person for leaving things to the last minute, I won’t be surprised if there is some emergency in the process of getting settled in my new home, so you can look forward to some stories of pure stupidity.
The one thing I am most worried about (aside from losing my passport) is the homesickness.
Anyone who knows me knows that I am a serious home bird, I have spent the summer at home and have absolutely LOVED it!
I know it will be tough at times, but thankfully we live in a world of social media, where it takes minimal effort to keep in contact with home. Dad has already expressed his desire to learn how to use Skype! That learning process in itself could merit an entire entry in this blog, so we shall wait and see.
If I am honest, it has only hit me today that I am going to be in another country until Christmas, I am extremely excited for the weekend of travelling, which lies ahead. 
One of the reasons we chose Belgium was because of the opportunity to travel to the likes of France, Luxembourg, Germany and The Netherlands. We have plans to travel as much as our pockets and schedules allow. So more of that to follow!
Overall, I am equally excited and nervous about this, and hopefully I can keep you entertained with my many tales from Belgium.
Tot ziens!! (That means ‘see you later’ in Dutch)
Áine.


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