Travelling to different countries and experiencing different cultures is about so much more than sightseeing – it can change someone on a deeper level. This was the experience of LLB Law student Maria Varsanova, who loves travelling and combined her degree at the University of Salford with the Erasmus+ programme. Maria spoke to me about her year in Madrid, describing her experience as “life-changing”.
Hi Maria! Why did you choose the University of Salford?
To be honest, the University of Salford chose me. When I was applying for university I was very confused, then I met someone, by coincidence, who graduated from Salford and he convinced me that it was the right university for me. I believe I made the right choice because of the atmosphere, the people and the tutors – they made me the person I am today.
Why did you choose to participate in the Erasmus+ programme?
In the beginning, I wasn’t quite sure what Erasmus was or how it worked. I also had to consider that as a Law student, the course content would be different in Spain, meaning the year I spent there wouldn’t count towards my degree. Instead, it was classed as a placement year.
However, it was again friends who had previously done Erasmus and said it was a must-do experience that persuaded me to go ahead. Experiencing a new culture is enriching and valuable for a young person and forms a more open-minded personality.
What was it like studying in Madrid?
Madrid is magical! Studying there was a bit challenging due to the language barrier, as I went without speaking much Spanish. In the beginning, it was a bit difficult even though the classes were in English, but it only took me around two weeks to adapt because everyone, both tutors and students, were super friendly and helpful in every possible way. Today, I can say that I speak much better Spanish and I am familiar with the Spanish legal system (because I was studying Spanish law there). Moreover, I made lifetime friends.
What were the best aspects of your exchange experience?
I learnt to be more independent and deal with different challenges in an entirely different country and culture. Moreover, I left a piece of my heart in Madrid, because I had the chance to experience the traditional Spanish lifestyle during my time being and it became a part of me. Also, experiencing a different world by travelling around and eating local cuisine was one of the best parts.
What top 3 tips would you give to future Erasmus students?
- Don’t be afraid to experience something new, because this is what gives our lives meaning. Go, travel and explore.
- Don’t be shy, open up and make new friends.
- Always try to improve yourself because, at the end of the day when you see the positive change in you, it’s the best feeling in the world.
How did you find out about the Erasmus+ Graduate Internship opportunity?
After I had completed the Erasmus study abroad programme, I read about the Erasmus + Graduate Traineeship opportunities on the University’s website. Moreover, one of my closest friends chose to do it last summer in Barcelona. So I was definitely convinced I should give it a try.
I found the perfect internship after I missed my flight connection in Germany. Luck was on my side because I helped the parents of my future employer to deal with the missed flight. We spent 7 hours at the airport talking. I was surprised to find out that their daughter wanted to expand her company in Bulgaria and was looking for someone just like me. It was a great opportunity, and I took it!