International Office - Outgoing Exchange Students

international office

outgoing exchange students



Some information, advice and feedback

on non-academic aspects

of the

semester/year abroad

Christine Burke International Office


March 2004



Introduction 2

International Office 3

Before Leaving Ireland 6

General Information 7

Finance 8

Health & Safety 10

Austria 12

France 15

Belgium 18

Switzerland 19

Germany 20

Spain 23

Japan 26

DCU Coordinators 29

Application for Socrates Grant 30



These notes are intended to give some general information and advice regarding the cost

of living and other largely non-academic aspects of the semester/year abroad. The

information in this booklet has been taken from surveys sent to students currently on their

year abroad. It would be advisable to talk to your predecessors who have very immediate,

detailed, vivid impressions and useful advice.

You should also contact the GLOBALINKS Society in DCU to meet with people from

the host universities who are currently studying in DCU. They can give you a good idea

of what life is like in the town/country you wish to visit.

Any suggestions for the improvement of this booklet will be very welcome.

Christine Burke, International Office

Editor, March 2004

Please note that much of this information relates to last year. It is therefore advisable to

consult university web-sites for up to the minute information.





International Office

Christine Burke


I am located in the International Office in CG26 on the ground floor of the Henry Grattan

Building. Student opening hours are 09.30- 12.30 and 14.30-16.30, Monday to Friday.

Contacting you:

During term time if I need to contact you with information from the host universities or

about other matters, I will do so via email or your home address. Please check your

DCU email account on a regular basis, and ensure that Student Records in the Registry

have your up-to-date home address - you can update your address via your portal page.

Information files:

There are information files on many of the exchange Universities in the International

Office. Please call to the office during opening hours should you wish to look through

the files and take notes. Material cannot be taken from the International Office. You

will receive information packs from the Universities once places are confirmed. In many

cases this information will be email/web-based. It is important to source as much

information yourselves prior to departure by looking through the information files,

looking at the universities Web pages, talking to your academic co-ordinators in DCU,

talking to current fourth years who have spent a year abroad already, making contact with

the DCU students currently studying in the universities you are interested in, and making

contact with the exchange students who may be here from these universities.

Socrates/Erasmus grant:

Students attending a university in another EU country which is part of our Socrates

network should apply for a Socrates/Erasmus Student Grant. There is an application

form at the back of this booklet. Students are advised to complete the form as fully as

possible and return to the Finance Office, not to me, by the 30 June 2004. Depending on

when the Socrates funds are received into the University, cheques will be issued to you

by the Finance Office and sent to your home addresses. This usually happens in October.

Small top-up grants in June/July 2005 may be a possibility but are not guaranteed.

At the time of going to press, we have not been informed regarding either the amount of

money available or any restrictions on its distribution. However, there are normally

restrictions on the minimum and maximum size of grants. For the past number of years

our practice has been to have three categories of grant amount.

Information packs/application forms for registration/accommodation:

As soon as it has been decided which University you will attend, I will be in contact with

your host University with your name and contact details and request that information

packs/application forms are forwarded to you or to myself. With most universities, this


information is available on their websites. Different universities abroad have vastly

different administrative procedures for dealing with exchange students.

It is of upmost importance to complete fully and return any application forms

required by the host university as soon as you get them. This is particularly important

in relation to accommodation forms if this applies to your university. Remember, this is

your responsibility to do and follow up and not DCU's.

(DCU will not reimburse any costs relating to accommodation).

N.B. DCU is not responsible for securing your accommodation abroad. We will

provide you with whatever application forms are required by the host university

and provide advice and information. Accommodation in the host country is

ultimately your responsibility.

Addresses abroad:

As soon as you know, you must update your portal pages with your new term address.

Among the important reasons for this requirement is the need which the University may

have to communicate with you regarding your project, visits by academics during the

year, or your grant or fee status.

E111 & E128 health insurance forms:

If travelling to an EU country, it is recommended to have E111 and E128 certificates for

medical insurance. They do not provide complete cover so it is recommended to take out

additional medical insurance. For those students from Dublin, Kildare or Wicklow,

completed forms to be returned by Friday, 30 April 2004 to me directly and I will get

them processed in bulk through the East Coast Area Health board and send them to your

home addresses. Forms which are not completed correctly or returned after the deadline

will not be handled. If you are not from these counties, then please make your own

arrangements - you will need to get an E128 from your own health board as these forms

differ in each health board. Further information on

You are advised to also take out private insurance, and students travelling to non-EU

countries are strongly encouraged to do so.

Letters confirming your student status:

The Registry is the only office which can issue official letters confirming your student

status should you require one.

Registering at DCU during your year abroad:

While abroad on your third year, you must also be registered at DCU for this year.

Registration forms will be available online before you leave Ireland and must be returned

by post (Registry). You must register by the DCU deadlines; late registration charges

will apply if you are late, and results will be withheld if you fail to register.

For any queries on this, please email:


Recouping fees:

Certain approved and compulsory expenses, such as semester/registration fees at some

universities, Student Union contributions, are reimbursed by DCU.

This only applies at undergraduate level and for year abroad students.

Original receipts (not photocopies) to be sent to Christine Burke. All receipts from the

students in each university to be sent or one or two occasions a year. Receipts for the

academic year 2004/2005 given to me after 31 October 2005, will not be reimbursed.

Under no circumstances are any costs relating to accommodation in the host country


Remember! No receipts, no refunds.

Health Insurance Reimbursement:

The cost of health insurance for certain categories of students will also be reimbursed up

to a certain amount. This is particularly relevant to students going to Japan, Switzerland

or the USA on their year abroad. This only applies at undergraduate level and for year

abroad students. Original receipts to be sent to Christine Burke. Receipts for the

academic year 2004/2005 given to me after 31 October 2005 will not be reimbursed.

Non-Academic queries/problems:

I can be contacted by phone on +353 1 7005574 or fax on +353 1 7008698 or email at at any time if there are queries or problems before, during or after

your stay abroad. My postal address is:

Christine Burke

International Office

Dublin City University,

Dublin 9, Ireland.




The semester/year abroad if used properly constitutes a tremendous experience and

opportunity, whether viewed in terms of academic and linguistic progress, career

prospects, general education and experience, or enjoyment. While there may be some

pitfalls and drawbacks, some of which are mentioned in these notes, the general

consensus is that the only thing wrong with the semester/year abroad is that it has to end.

`Enjoy your year to the fullest - it's up to you to make the most of it'


It is also important to try to integrate into the life of the foreign university as quickly as

possible rather than always sticking together or limiting social contact to Englishspeaking

students (sharing accommodation with native speakers can help).

`Meet lots of people, make lots of friends - memories of such will hold your year abroad

in your memory for ever'

`Get involved, the year abroad is what you make of it'. ` Get to know the natives, you

can't socialise enough'

`Go for every opportunity that comes your way - you might never get it again'.

`Make friends, make friends, make friends'.


The following is a quotation from some notes prepared by academic staff, and is worth

repeating here:

`Those attending a foreign university/school in a group bear a considerable responsibility.

Their behaviour both in academic matters and on a social level will determine very

largely the opportunities open to students coming in later years and the reception that

they will receive. It is therefore essential that students maintain a responsible attitude

towards their work and in particular attend all seminars and classes for which they are

registered. Students are also required to take assessments and exams. Remember that you

represent Dublin City University abroad'.




In many foreign universities there is a greater emphasis on attendance at lectures and

other academic exercises than is perhaps customary in Ireland and the UK. An academic

lifestyle, therefore, which might be just about acceptable in Ireland could be taken much

more seriously in continental Europe. The length of lectures might also be found unusual

by Irish standards (e.g. two-hour, three-hour, and even four-hour sessions), and flexibility

might also be called for regarding evening lectures and seminars.


Students here in the University sometimes complain about bureaucracy. However, you

will find it even more formidable in the case of our European partners. You are strongly

advised that all requests for forms to be completed, passport size photographs, birth

certificates, signatures etc. should be complied with accurately, completely, and

promptly. As in Ireland, there is often a human face and a flexibility behind the

bureaucracy, but don't count on it. It is useful to bring out a supply of passport-sized

photographs and photocopies of any relevant documentation.

`Extremely complicated procedure'.

`Bureaucracy in Germany is never-ending ...registration at the college is an extremely

lengthy process'.


You will normally be visited by DCU academic staff during the year (at least in the case

of the European placements). These visits are an important part of your academic year,

and the IML, IBL and AL Programme Boards have emphasised that you are obliged to be

available to meet the DCU staff member during these visits.




Students in receipt of a Higher Education Grant or a VEC Scholarship will, obviously,

continue to receive this during their year abroad. It is important that you obtain a letter

from the Registry stating that you are a full-time fee-paying student of the University for

the forthcoming academic year, which will be spent studying in a university abroad. This

letter should then be sent to your grant authority. Where the maintenance component of a

grant or scholarship has been based on the assumption that the student was living at

home, the increased `away from home' grant will be paid during the year abroad. It is

very important to note that your grant cheque is worthless in a foreign country, so do not

have it forwarded to you there. The best arrangement is to ask the Finance Office (in

writing) to forward the cheque to your bank; then ask your bank to send a draft in the

foreign currency (or Euro) to your address abroad. The AIB campus sub-office is

prepared to offer this service to account-holders, and most banks will probably do the

same. Another method is to provide the Finance Office with the name and address of a

member of your family or a friend, and arrange with your bank to allow this person to

cash the cheque for you. In the absence of any specific instructions the Finance Office

will post your cheque to your home address in Ireland. It may also be possible to obtain

your cheque before leaving the country if you go to the County Council or VEC office

and ask for it.


In general, it is important to bring sufficient money that is ready to use for the early part

of your stay. Opening a bank account on arrival is a good idea, and it can take a week or

more to get an account number. In Japan cheques are not normally accepted as in Ireland.

Obviously, there are continental counterparts to Banklink and Pass cards, and there is a

similar delay in obtaining them. Telex or Western Union can transfer money to a foreign

account from Ireland. This is very fast but costly. It would be a good idea to set up 24-

hour banking and Internet banking to make it easier to check your account in Ireland. If

you are planning to use your Irish ATM cards make sure that they have `Cirrus' or `Plus'

on the back of the card. Many put money into visa accounts and use the card as an ATM


`Make sure you organise your money well in advance. Buy a money belt. Make sure you

check your name and account number on all transactions, as Germans are not familiar

with Irish names'.


As stated in the University Prospectus, `the cost of living abroad (including travel and

coming home for Christmas) is normally not greater than the cost of other years of the

degree for those living away from home'. `Among the reasons for this are the high

subsidies for accommodation and catering in continental universities.' `The living

expenses of a student living away from home for the eight-month academic year will be

approximately €6,900.00. This is exclusive of course fees and living expenses during

holiday periods and obviously depends on each individual student'.


The following factors related to the cost of the semester/year abroad should be borne in


* Students going to another EU country normally receive a SOCRATES grant.

* Dublin students in receipt of a grant or scholarship qualify to receive the `away

from home' level of maintenance grant for the year abroad.

* Many EU countries (e.g. France, Germany) have subsidised catering on campus,

and in some cases university accommodation is also subsidised. In the case of

France, there is a very generous rent rebate, which makes a significant impact on

the net cost of the year.

* Book costs for the year abroad tends to be very low, due to the continental system

of high reliance on free class handouts.

* Likewise, student discounts on public transport and on airfares are a distinct help.

* Some students receive payment during part or all of the year due to obtaining an

assistantship, `stage' or work placement.

* Many students work part-time during the year (but beware of legal restrictions in

some countries).

* A lot of students stay abroad after the end of the academic year to get a summer

job. This has obvious implications for the total net cost of the year abroad. Having

been there during the year, you are normally able to obtain the better jobs, and

you are not incurring additional travel expenses for the employment.

* The year abroad is a year in which budgeting skills really come into their own.

For students who have been living at home during the first two years of their

degree, it is important to realise that budgeting is an area that requires specific

thought and planning. Being away from home for the first time and coping with a

foreign environment, foreign prices and foreign currency can do strange things

not only to budgeting skills but also to normal financial reticence.

`One benefit of the year abroad is that it teaches you to organise yourself'.


The Student Assistance Fund is available for students who find themselves in

financial difficulty while abroad. Please email




It is important that you maintain a healthy lifestyle on your semester/year abroad, which

should include a healthy diet, adequate exercise, and enough sleep. It is also important to

realise that in many foreign countries some antibiotics and other drugs, which are

available only on prescription in Ireland, can be bought over the counter. It is a good

practice to attend a doctor for advice prior to using such medicine, and in any case only

use medicines manufactured by reputable firms.

The incidence of AIDS is high in many of our partner countries, and adds a completely

new dimension to any consideration of sexual activity. A detailed handout on this topic

specially written by the University Nurse for students going abroad, entitled `DON'T

BRING IT HOME', is available from the Health Centre.


DCU students are covered under DCU's Accidental Injury Policy 365 days a year for

accidents only. Details are in the DCU Handbook and from the Finance Office.


Students are advised to think carefully about personal safety. In particular, female

students must develop awareness that normal Irish friendliness can be misinterpreted in a

foreign country, and also be careful not to go out alone at night. It might be a good idea

to buy a personal alarm. The advice regarding personal safety is not limited to female

students. It is not intended to be alarmist, but it's better to be warned. Students should

also be conscious of where and whom they receive their drinks from, as certain drugs i.e.

rohypnol are easily available.


For some of our students the year abroad will be the first time they will have been away

from home for a prolonged period, and everyone, seasoned traveller or not, can be subject

to occasional depression and homesickness.

`At some stage every one will get homesick... don't dwell overly on how much you miss

home, you'll only serve to depress yourself... it is very advisable to meet up with the

others when you feel down and homesick... as the old Monty Python song goes `always

look on the bright side of life'


On many bus and metro systems abroad there is a system based on trust, with occasional

spot-checks for tickets. Do not try to beat the system as there are strict penalties,

including detention, for not having the proper ticket.


Give some thought to how you can best utilise your free time. If you are sufficiently on

top of your work and if finances permit, these can be very useful periods for seeing a bit

of the country or availing of the many cultural, sporting (e.g. skiing) or occupational

opportunities available. In particular, the semester/year abroad is a very good opportunity

to avail of the very rich cultural environment afforded by the host cities and countries.



If you're feeling lonely or just in need of a chat pick up the phone. To dial Ireland use

your foreign country's code +353 + 1 the local number minus the `0' e.g. ringing from

Paris to Dublin: 19+353+1+ local number (minus the `0'). Its worth noting that you can

make great saving on many of the discount telephone cards (Telewelt Germany) on offer.

Also, look into seeing if you can swap your SIM card in the host country. (France,

Belgium and Germany).


Avail of the Internet, as it is a great way of finding information or just news from home

fast. Irish Times website is There is also an email service if you

wish to receive a daily summary. RTE website at Please check your

student email also, as you will be getting information from DCU throughout the year to

your class lists.


You may find it useful to consult the relevant section of a Student Handbook published

by the Commission of European Communities entitled `Higher Education in the

European Communities'. Copies of this are available in the DCU Library (Ref. 378.4).


Whichever country or university you are going to, bear in mind that much of the advance

information you have received is partial and perhaps rather anecdotal. It is very easy for

one country or university to be painted in a more attractive light than another is. It can

often be the case that the various advantages and disadvantages of the different colleges

and countries - insofar as they are real - more or less cancel each other out. Wherever you

go enjoy yourself and learn from the experience. It might be useful if you could write a

short `survival' summary for subsequent students, your academics and the International





On arrival there can be considerable bureaucracy `long and tedious ... filling in forms in

triplicate' and many offices close at 12 noon. Consequently you should ensure that you

possess the appropriate documentation. Some require a leaving. A passport is required

along with passport photographs - anywhere between 3 and 6, E128, E111, doctor's

certificate from the hospital in the city you are going to reside in, a copy of the

registration form with the Austrian Police, and declaration of residence accepted and

stamped by the police. Keep a copy of all these forms in case you are stopped for

inspection and make sure that you attend the welcoming meeting on the first day with

your co-ordinators. On arrival to Vienna, you should meet with an International Relations

Office employee for a 2-hour induction session so make sure that you go to the

International Office in the main university building. This can be helpful for such things as

ID cards and registration. Find the departments where most of the lectures are held and

get a course catalogue to try and sort out your timetable as soon as possible.


For Innsbruck University, the leaving certificate was not required and 3-4 passport

photographs were required. Registration can be long with much form filling and students

also have to register with the police/civil authorities within three days of arrival (passport,

Inskriptionsblatt and Meldezettel). This can take up to 45 minutes and they close at

13.00. This is explained at the Erasmus meeting on day 1 with the co-ordinators and the

university will explain what documents are required. It is advised that those travelling to

Innsbruck should travel a week early to get settled in. In Innsbruck, the registration office

opens from 09.00 and 12.00 and queues begin from 08.30.

There is an International Office in Innsbruck to advise and sort out problems with

lectures and exams. They have been found to be very helpful when approached. There is

a separate office run by students in Innsbruck to organise social events. You will get full

information at the introductory meeting with the Erasmus co-ordinators.


Innsbruck organises accommodation on campus prior to your arrival. The forms will be

sent to you in Ireland and when filling it out, please include the deposit. The facilities in

Innsbruck include washer/dryer, fridge, hob (no oven). However cooking utensils are not

provided. It is advisable to bring along pots, pans, plates and cutlery. Rent is paid a

month in advance. In Vienna, the campus residence is quite good, however you can

expect to live with people from everywhere except Austria.


Direct flights go to Innsbruck and Vienna with other routes to Salzburg and Munich. The

train fare from Munich to Innsbruck is about €25 and €40 return with a student card. A

semester student discount ticket can be purchased for about €120. This can only be

purchased once you register with the university. Austria has a very efficient rail network

and fares are calculated according to distance. A vorteilskarte can be bought for about

€15 from the train station (on presentation of your student ID and passport photograph).

This will entitle you to 50% off trains in Austria and 20% outside Austria. Cycling is also

very popular in Austria with many cycle lanes. You can rent bicycles at the train station.

The monthly bus ticket costs about €35.



Austria has a reputation of being one of the most expensive EU countries. The estimated

cost of living including travel, accommodation, food and social life is about €600 - €650

per month. Graz can be less expensive than Innsbruck and Vienna as it is not a tourist

trap. Graz also offers a limited amount of tutorships. In Vienna the cost of living can be

up to €950 per month. It is advisable to bring at least €700 in cash and set up internet

banking before leaving Ireland and perhaps get a credit card for emergencies.


Local supermarkets such as Hofer, Merkur, Interspar, Zielpunkt, M-Preis and Billa are

quite inexpensive. Fruit and vegetables are a must and the local markets are good value

(e.g. Kaiser Josef Platz in Graz). All bread should be bought in the bakery. Shops close

on Sundays and close at 17.00 on Saturdays.


A registration fee for accident insurance is paid to the Students' Union. The

Gebietskrankenkassa supplies the forms and cards that are required for most medical

attention. For an additional amount per month, full health insurance can be acquired from

this service. Doctors do charge and if you get a receipt you can claim from your

insurance at home. There is no medical facility at Innsbruck University or in Vienna.

There is a hospital adjacent to the university in Innsbruck. Healthcare items cost about

the same as in Ireland and the pharmacies (Apotheke) are open during normal working

hours and close on Sundays. As in Ireland, most pharmacies run a rota to cover out of

hours. If you want to go snowboarding, you will have to take out extra insurance or cover

with VHI.


Austria, like Ireland can be expensive and many students find part-time work in Irish

bars. Some also find work giving grinds.


A buddy system operates in Vienna, where an Austrian student takes you under their

wing. In Innsbruck there is an excellent sports complex off campus. Skiing and

snowboarding is highly recommended. For opera and musical lovers, standing tickets can

cost about €3.00. Joining the Students' Union in Innsbruck costs about €15. In Vienna,

there tends to be quite a high work ethic with no sports facilities on campus. There are

two main libraries in Innsbruck and some find them quite complicated to use. However

they have a very large range of books available. In Innsbruck, there are very few

computers (you must register to use them) and printers. In Vienna each department has its

own library with a wide selection of books which are obtained by ordering the previous

day on the computer. The computer facilities are quite limited in Vienna also and prepare

to queue with limited opening hours. For travel around Austria and environs, Vienna and

Venice are highly recommended. Ask the locals about tourist sites near the universities.

However some students found the workload quite hard, especially if the course is through

German so expect to do a lot of work. In Vienna, the best bank to go to is Bank Austria

Creditanstalt adjacent to the university.


Bring all the useful documentation you can think of including a letter of introduction to

companies for your project and proof of studentship with DCU. CD players are quite

cheap in Austria. Bring over CV's in German and English along with enough passport


photographs, birth certificate, letter from DCU and driver's license if applicable. Don't

forget your continental adapters if you are bringing a hairdryer.

In Vienna it was difficult to find suitable classes that did not clash in order to make up

credits and computer access was difficult (some students had to buy a PC that was not too

expensive - €180 for a second-hand one).




On arrival, leave your luggage except an overnight bag and your documents at the

`consigne manuelle' at the railway station. If you carry all to the university you may have

to carry everything to the different places that you are sent. Once you have settled in your

accommodation collect your belongings. It is advisable to find the International Relations

Office on arrival. In Angers, the International Co-ordinator gave details about available

courses, sporting facilities and AIESIC.


As there is a lot of queuing and form filling - arrive early. You will need the following:

translated birth certificate, passport, up to 12 passport photographs, a letter guaranteeing

financial stability and the E111 and E128 health forms. If you are staying in France

longer than three months you must get a `Permis/Carte de Sejour' which is available

when registering with the local authorities. In ENSC'L the applications are made on

campus and after 4 weeks the cards are issued from the Prefecture in Lille. Again this

may be time consuming and is advisable to do once you get your French student ID card

and `certificate de Scolarite.

Included in orientation is a weeklong course of intensive French. Students are separated

into groups and they must discuss/write/present a paper on different topics. The college

year is broken into four with exams at the end of each quarter. It is quite normal to hold

lectures on a Saturday.


Some students may get a rent rebate. In order to avail of this you must have received you

Carte de Sejour and then contact the local housing authority. When being placed in

university accommodation arrive with the person that you wish to share with. You can

also request to be placed with native speakers if you want to improve your French.

Generally basic facilities include 2 hotplates, a sink and a fridge. Avoid the Villeurbanne

area in Lyon as it involves a lengthy commute. If you are travelling to Nancy request

accommodation in Boudonville or Monbois as they are quite near the university. In

Anger the student accommodation is quite cheap. CROUS accommodation is


In Reims, the Bureau de Eleves (BDE) organises accommodation and it is important to

apply before you leave DCU this year. In Reims you must also furnish your apartment,

however the people renting before you usually sell on their furniture and appliances.

However some students advise to stay away from the college residence (ACOBHA) as it

can be unsafe in that area and it may be cheaper and safer to try and find accommodation

in town. Try to avoid using agencies to find your accommodation as they can charge up

to €200 finder's fee. When you find your accommodation you must remain there until

your lease has expired otherwise you may be faced with losing two months rent.


Depending on where you are, the cost of living can be from €400 - €900 per month. To

cover rent and deposit and initial expenditure it would be necessary to bring at least €800.

Banks are open from 09.00 - 12.00 and from 14.00 - 16.00 and may be closed on

Monday or Saturday. If you are lodging a draft, bring along you passport. If you are

opening an account in France, apply for a Soc. Général bank account (good student deals)


however it may take up to 3 weeks to receives your ATM card otherwise make sure that

your ATM card from home has either Cirrus or Plus. French bank charges can be quite

high for their accounts (€1 for every withdrawal). However everyone in France uses a CB

(Carte Bleu) for all purchases. The French generally do not carry cash so if you are

planning to open an account in France this would be very useful and safe.


Supermarkets such as Carrefour, Super U, Auchen and Intermarche are good value and

the markets are excellent for fresh fruit and vegetables. In Lille a meal at the local Flunch

restaurant is recommended. In Nancy, Aldi and Lidl are the least expensive. ED is good

in Reims (Monoprix is nice but too expensive) and in Mulhouse you can buy a smart card

which entitles you to discounts on food. Alcohol in bars doubles in price in the evenings.


Form E128 cover 70 - 80% of normal treatment and 99% of hospitalisation. VHI and

BUPA are also good insurers. It is possible to take insurance cover called MNEF at a cost

of about €60 for the year. You must keep your medicine containers as well as the receipts

in France for reimbursement. Most universities have a nursing service but you must go to

the General Practitioners Office for medical treatment. In Reims there is an obligatory

medical test. Pharmacies are quite useful as they give first aid for free and all

emergencies are treated in the local hospital.


The main opportunities for work in France include teaching English and bar work.


Lyon III and Mulhouse have excellent Sport and Recreation Facilities and most facilities

are free (except Paris ESIT and Reims). You may have to pay up to €110 to join the

Students' Union and they generally organise weekly nights out. In Reims, the main

advantage of joining the SU is for discounted Christmas Ball tickets. In ENC'L the

Students' Union is chiefly concerned with entertainment and runs a recreation room with

TV and table tennis. There are numerous foreign students' societies such as AELL and

they organise anything from horse riding to Skiing. In Paris, the Cite Internationale is the

centre of social life as opposed to the university. Bars are not common on campuses.

Facilities in ESSCA include gym, soccer, volleyball and go-karting.

The Library facilities in ENSC'L and ESSCA are not the greatest with very few

computers that have restricted access. This seems to be the case also in Reims with 32

computers for the entire college. If you have a laptop bring it.

Some students may be shocked at the amount of work ahead of them and that the exams

may be quite difficult. However they do find that by the second semester things settle

down and the initial barriers such as language and culture ease.


Self-catering facilities can come as a quite a shock so bring along kettles, iron, electric

rings and utensils or budget for them on arrival. Other items to bring include mobile

phone (unblocked), gameboy, shaver, hairdressing kit (available in Argus as gents

haircuts are very expensive in France) and phone chargers. An international plug will also

be required. Keep all receipts for anything from rent rebate to medical insurance. Paris is


notorious for pickpockets. Have all documentation translated including your CV. Many

students take laptops, as the computer facilities are quite sparse.

Places to visit include the Champagne Caves, Mass in Notre Dame and if you are a

clothes/shoeaholic Zara is a must. If you are a camping enthusiast you will be pleased

that the campsites are very cheap and have great facilities.

Reims can get quite cold so be prepared. In Reims it was found that interaction with

management of the school was quite difficult and that the different nationalities had

different work ethics so be prepared for more group projects and late study nights. Go out

in Le Tigre, shop in Cora and invite friends and family over. Watch out for the cheap

champagne. If you have a car, visit the vineyards and you have a great opportunity of

seeing other parts of mainland Europe - Stuttgart, Strasbourg and Luxembourg are only 2

- 3 hours away. If in Lille visit the Mussee des Beauxs Arts, Mussee d'Artillerie, Euro

Lille Comercial Center and the Marche de Noel (at Christmastime).

Bordeaux - It is worth paying more to live in a good, well-lit, central area and try to live

with French people. Don't go anywhere on your own after dark.




Registration can be complicated, requiring form filling, E111, E128, Certificat d'Etudes,

passport, many photos and a registration fee. EU nationals should register at the Police

Aliens Office in the district they are living. Apply for the Carte de Sejour early as there

is an amount of bureaucracy.


College accommodation is recommended because you meet other students and get to

speak the language.


The train appears to be the cheapest form of transport in Belgium. A `O-Pass` entitles the

bearer to ten single train journeys anywhere in the country. In your spare time, if you

wish to travel around Belgium, there are tourist offices in all but the smallest villages.

They offer a comprehensive service, often stocking free booklets and providing an

accommodation booking service. Don't forget that cycling is also a viable way of seeing

this country. Whether you have your own bike or have hired one, it is possible to take

your bike on the train. Don't forget your adaptor and items such as a hair dryer and an

alarm clock.


Supermarkets are definitely the best value for money (e.g. Aldi in Louvain). If you are a

vegetarian, the "Maison de L'Ecologie" in Namur has a wholefood shop downstairs and a

restaurant upstairs. There are bar facilities on campus at Louvain and Namur. Remember

Belgium is famous for its cuisine, beer and chocolate.


At both Louvain and Namur, there is an on-campus medical service. In general,

prescribed medicines are approximately double their Irish counterparts. However, it is

possible to claim back up to 75% of the price from a "Mutalite" - pay the doctor etc, give

the receipts to the Mutalite and the refund will be posted to you.


Louvain has excellent sport and recreation facilities. The biggest sports complex in the

Benelux is in Louvain and they also have an Olympic size swimming pool. Despite the

fact that Namur does not possess an on campus complex, it does offer other facilities such

as football, basketball, aerobics and karate. For part-time work, giving English classes

tends to be the most popular.

A trip to Brussels is recommended.




Switzerland is a non-EU country and it will therefore be necessary to have all the correct

documents entering the country.


Registration is typically Swiss - very organised. Students attend a meeting the week

before classes and get handed all the paperwork. Once all forms have been handed in

(don't forget photos), you will receive the first half of the grant. A visit to the Office

Cantonal de la Population in your region will provide you with a resident visa for one

year. Remember you will encounter a university tax each semester.


In general students attending Geneva University, were allocated on campus residences.

The campus residences are `top class accommodation` and are excellent value for money.

All residences are fully equipped with major appliances.


The international airport in Geneva is located only a short distance (10 mins) from the

city. It has an excellent transport system. A student discount card is available which

gives unlimited use for a month. Avail of the excellent efficient rail network to get

around the rest of Switzerland and Europe at discount prices.


Switzerland is one of the most expensive countries to live in Europe.


Eating out is expensive in Geneva. Students recommended going across the border to

France to do their shopping as it was a lot cheaper.


Your E111 and E128 forms will not be applicable here, and it is highly advisable to take

out medical insurance. Generally there are no on campus health centres, and health care

prescriptions are approximately 30% dearer than at home.


Visas are required if you wish to work (max 20 hrs) in Geneva, and can be arranged at

the employment office in the university for free. Work can be found in the Irish bars or

alternatively teaching English.


Geneva University organises a variety of recreational trips for students, including

reasonably priced skiing trips. Public sport centres are free to students with a valid ID

card. As the campus is quite fragmented, students found little social life on campus and

the bars that they did visit were not aimed for students.




In Germany there is an emphasis on welcoming foreign students, and each university has

a special foreign students office (Akademische Auslandsamt). Among other things, these

offices organise orientation programmes and a calendar of social and cultural events

throughout the academic year. Try to arrive in Germany on a weekday, preferably during

office hours, otherwise you may not be able to get your room and will have to make

alternative accommodation arrangements. Some universities organise co-ordinators to

collect students from the airport.


The necessary documents for registration include: passport and photographs, DCU letter,

grant documentation, registration forms, receipt to prove payment of travel pass

(Sozialbeitrag), rent contract or lease and the E111/E128 form. It is compulsory to

registrar with the Civil Authorities (RATHAUS). In Trier, students can register during

orientation week.

The Aufenthaltserlaubis is a permit of stay and is obtained from the Entwolnetmeldeamt.

The following is necessary for the permit: Copy of rental contract, 2 passport photos, a

letter guaranteeing your financial status, the AOK medical insurance, health insurance

form and proof from the university that you are a student there. If you do not get the

permit of stay from the police station or town hall you may not get a Lohnsteuerkarte

(work permit).

In Leipzig, they give you a timetable of when and where to register with the different

authorities. You will have to register with the Burgeramt (City Council), then the

Ordnungsamt fur Auslander (foreigner's office). It can take up to a week to complete.

During Freshers' week there is a tour of the university and information on classes and

activities are distributed. Orientation is a series of language classes and is very important.

In Trier, students attend a talk on Business Studies and information on the credits that

they can get for each subject. There is also an intensive 3-week course in German. This

includes classes from 9 - 12, meetings with tutors from 1 - 5 and excursions at the

weekend at some evenings.

In Leipzig the 3-week course includes classes in the morning and city excursions in the

afternoon including museums, trips to Dresden, Wiemar and concerts.


University residences are state subsidised and this type of accommodation is

recommended. Early application is desirable as some are quite far from the university. In

Trier and Berlin, Studentenvonheims are recommended and if you wish to live with

German speaking students try the Wohngemanschaft in Bayreuth. Accommodation

consists of a communal kitchen, bathroom on each floor and washer/dryer facilities.

Electricity is normally included in the rent.

Flats and apartments are more expensive and it is important to read the contract carefully.

Costs range from €220 - with a deposit of one month's rent. `Warm' in Germany means

that all expenses such as gas and electricity are included in the rent whereas as `kalt'


means that they are not included. In some contracts the flats are unfurnished. Some useful

items to bring include kettle, iron and hairdryer and the international adapters. It is

important to keep all your receipts.


Many major towns such as Jena, Saarbruecken and Koln offer city travel for the semester

that is included in the registration fee.

The Tram is a very efficient method of transport, especially in Leipzig. A

`Semesterticket' can be purchased and with that you have unlimited access to all trams

and buses (including night buses) for the 6 month semester.

Bicycles are easily hired and a great way to travel. They can be hired from train stations

participating in the Fahrrad am Bahnholf scheme from April to October. Holders of rail

passes receive a 50% discount and bikes can be returned to any station. A junior pass can

be bought by those under 26 and gives a 50% reduction for travel throughout Germany.

The Ausbildings card entitles you to travel on any mode of transport for the same price.

ESB Reutlingen has a very good travel office whereby you can participate in the

Mitfahrzentralen system. You can register if you require a lift anywhere.


The cost of living ranges form €500 - €800. Deutsche Bank 24 is recommended to those

opening accounts, as there are no fee charges. 24-hour Internet banking is a must for

those keeping their Irish accounts.


Aldi, Plus, Real, Lidl, Edeka, Kaufland and Pennymarkt are quite cheap and most shops

close on Sundays. In Trier you can go for free breakfast at the International Centre every

second Saturday. Food can cost about €50 per month.


Many German universities have no medical facilities on campus. There are numerous

doctors' surgeries located in the towns and cities. To avail of the medical facilities, get a

certificate from AOK (state health insurance agency) which is issued on production of the

E111 and E128 forms.


Teaching English and bar work are the most common types of part-time work and

proofreading is gaining in popularity. Students are only allowed work part-time.


There is a strong emphasis on study and academia. However many universities offer a

wide variety of sports facilities from gyms to tennis to football. Other interests include

film, discos, and Drama Soc. There is a lot to see in Germany from castles to exhibitions.

On the first Sunday of every month there is free entry into museums in Berlin. Joining the

Students' Union gets you more access to organised parties and events. Nights out should

work out less expensive than Ireland.

In Leipzig, the library is modern with good facilities, however there are less computers

and printers than in DCU. The university in Leipzig is located around the city and there is

a mixture of old and modern buildings. The Moritzbastei (known as the `mb') is


Germany's largest student venue and is open all week with discos, concerts and live

music. German students tend not to join societies, mainly clubs. However there is a very

good society called WILMA for foreign students and they organise many excursions. In

Paderborn, join Eurobiz.

In FH Reutlingen as in Paderborn the library is very small and there are limited computer

facilities available. Many students buy a laptop.

Cologne has lots of separate and specialized libraries and you must order books in

advance. They can be quite small. Many students end up using Internet cafes, as the

computer facilities in Cologne are limited. In Cologne and Koln there is a buddy scheme

in operation.

There is no campus in Tuebingen - the university is spread all around the town.

If you are going the European School of Business in Reutlingen be prepared for long

lectures and frequent exams. The Library is very small and there are about 20 computers

in the Business building.


Bring CV in English and German and driver's license if applicable. Bring along laptop,

utensils, German guide and mobile phone. Electric items are quite inexpensive in

Germany. Bring references, academic German notes, Economics book and exam results.

Berlin is only 2 hours from Leipzig and Prague is only 3 hours by train. Good towns to

visit include Tubingen, Bodensee and the Stuttgart Volksfest is worth a trip.




Arrive early in September, avoid arriving around Sept. 23rd as it's a holiday. In Las

Palmas there is a welcoming meeting with the Heads and the International Office. In

Salamanca the students met with their co-ordinator and were spoken to only in Spanish.


This is a relatively simple task as compared to other European countries, h entertainment tend to be less than here. As the capital city, Madrid is in

the upper range. It would be advisable to open an account in Spain. Be prepared for

lengthy bureaucracy however. The recommended place is `Caja Duero', a local building

society. It will also be necessary to register with the Policia Nacional. To open an account

in Granada you will need your passport and your Granada ID.

Banks are usually open Monday to Friday 09.00 - 14.00 in summer plus Saturday

09.00am - 13.00pm in winter. If using the post office, the best time to go is mediadia

when it can be fairly quiet. Do expect everywhere to close during siesta. Transferring

money is expensive and if you want to keep you account in Ireland open, it would be

advisable to avail of 24-hour Internet banking.


It seems to be cheaper to eat off campus in most universities. It may be a little cheaper to

shop in the local supermarket (e.g. the `DIA' chain in Madrid), or the hypermarket in Las

Palmas, however it is more enjoyable and the service much friendlier in the many small

shops where it might be cheaper. Other inexpensive places include Eroski, Supersol,

Carrefour, Hyperdino and Lidl. El Corte Inglés is the most expensive. Do try and use the

markets (mercado central) for fruit and vegetables. Try the special Catalan dishes in

Barcelona they are both filling and good value for money. Please note that if you eat in a

bar there are separate prices for eating at the bar, at the table or sitting out on the terrace.

The price of alcohol is dependent on where it is bought.


The E111 form is preferred to form E128. There is not normally a medical service

available on campus and doctors will not see you unless you have you E111 and your

passport. For minor health complaints go to a pharmacy (farmacia) but for more serious

cases if required you can get the address of an English speaking doctor from the farmacia

or the local police.


Even though this booklet primarily refers to non-academic matters it is worth mentioning

areas such as projects. The advice seems to start your project as early as possible and not

to leave it until the last minute. The Irish Trade Board in Madrid allows students to avail

of their well stocked reading room and one of our previous graduates who worked in the

commercial office there has put together a guide dealing with research in Spain. Students

found that some of the City Centre library borrowing procedures was very tedious.

Students on Socrates Grants in Salamanca can't borrow books. Computer facilities can be

quite limited. The intensive Spanish course is highly recommended and can cost from

€100 - €200 so be prepared for this extra cost. In Seville go to the Instituto de Idiomas on

Calle Reina Mercedes to book the classes.



You must register with the Policia Nacional before commencing work. If you are

planning to teach English, you have a better chance if you have completed the TEFL

course. It is difficult to get work in Granada. Don't rely on getting a job for you time in



The emphasis in a Spanish university is on academic matters and extra-curricular

activities are not as well developed as they are in DCU. Having said this, Madrid and

Barcelona have very comprehensive sports facilities including a swimming pool. A wide

range of cultural and sporting activities is normally available in the local community, and

it is not difficult to make friends with people in Spain. If you are prepared to make the

first contact, you will find your fellow students and other people very willing to talk to

you. In general those who go to Barcelona find it a little harder to integrate at first due to

the prevalence of Catalan. It has been suggested that you join a club just to go out and

meet people. In Salamanca there is an Erasmus club and generally in Spain there is a

good Erasmus network. In Las Palmas, the sports facilities are 30 minutes away.


A useful telephone number is 010 for information. If money is in short supply, teaching

English pays the best rates, especially as other work is hard to come by. Share

accommodation with Spanish people if possible. Watch out for pickpockets. Bring a

kettle - they are in short supply in Spain and if bringing a hairdryer do not bring a hipowered

one, as the Spanish sockets will not take it. Don't forget you adapters. If you

have a laptop, bring it.

Bring photocopies of your passport, CV (in English and Spanish), Letter from DCU and

your birth certificate.

If you arrive early in September enrol on the Spanish language courses in the college, as

they are a great help when your lectures start. Remember to budget for them.

There are great trips organised by the Erasmus Society such as trips to Sierra Nevada

(skiing) and trips to Portugal.




The academic staff will give a full briefing on the year in Japan.


It is advisable to book as early as possible as flights can get quite expensive. Some

university representatives collect the students from the airport (Takasaki, Kufs, Tokyo)

otherwise it is up to the students to make their own way (Kanazawa and Kobe). The

travel system if quite efficient and easy to understand. The Japan National Trust has an

English-speaking phone service for travel information. Inter-city rail travel is quite

expensive so a commuter ticket is a worthwhile investment . There is a 20% discount for

students but it is still quite expensive. The discount is not available in all cities. The price

is dependent on the distance traveled and the ticket is only valid for the stops between

your regular stations. To avail of the discount you must produce your student ID card

however some universities may take this off you when your academic placement ends.

Bicycles are very popular in Japan and some universities will supply a bicycle depending

on how far away you are from the university. The subway is the best for evening and

night travel.


The average monthly cost of living is between 75,000 - 120,000 Yen. This applies

mainly to Tokyo and Kanazawa whereas Takasaki has been found to be a bit cheaper.


Carry travelers' cheques in yen, as they are cheaper to exchange than the dollar

equivalent. Cash is also important, as bank drafts are difficult to change. You should

open a bank account on arrival and be advised that the ATM machines are usually only

open during business hours (latest 19.00) and ATM cards only work in the branch where

the account is held. Citibank are a good bet as an international credit card can be used to

access your account at home.

In Kyoto, there is no bank on campus and the nearest bank closes at 15.00. As there are

only two ATM machines in Kyoto, it is advisable to take enough money out once a week.

The post office is very quick and reliable and in most cities there is one 24-hour post

office. The normal closing time is 17.00. There is a post office beside Ichagaya campus.


Eating on campus and at work is less expensive as convenience stores can be quite dear.

However some reports from Ichigaya are not good - they do not change the menu and the

only options are Ramen of Chicken Curry and they don't think that students need to eat

on Wednesdays. The supermarkets are the best for value and range. Dairy products are

not as popular in Japan and may tend to be more expensive than Ireland. The set menu or

Teishoku is good value. If you need cooking utensils, there are shops called Ghyaku Yen

(99 shop).


During the academic placement accommodation will normally be in one of the campus

residences - do not expect ensuite and the choice of homestay is only applicable to


Takasaki. It is important to pay accommodation one month in advance, to be home by

curfew and to conform to Japanese hygiene standards. Homestays are a great opportunity

to increase your level of Japanese. Most accommodation includes washing machine,

drier, microwave, TV and radio.


It is important that you take out medical insurance for the time that you are in Japan. If

you are with VHI check what percentage of cover they will give you during your work

placement as some of the company policies only cover 90% of medical costs. The USIT

insurance does not cover accidents involving skiing, alcohol or drugs. BUPA Ireland also

offers medical insurance.

Those going for a full year of study in Japan must join the Japanese National Health

Insurance Scheme by law that also covers dental care. Joining is by presenting your 1 -