International Office - Outgoing Exchange Students
outgoing exchange students
SEMESTER/YEAR ABROAD: 2004-2005
Some information, advice and feedback
on non-academic aspects
Christine Burke International Office
TABLE OF CONTENTS
International Office 3
Before Leaving Ireland 6
General Information 7
Health & Safety 10
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.
THE INFORMATION GIVEN IN THIS BOOKLET IS INTENDED TO ASSIST STUDENTS
GOING ON THEIR YEAR ABROAD AND DOES NOT CONSTITUTE A CONTRACT
BETWEEN THE UNIVERSITY AND SUCH STUDENTS.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 www.erha.ie.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
I can be contacted by phone on +353 1 7005574 or fax on +353 1 7008698 or email at
email@example.com at any time if there are queries or problems before, during or after
your stay abroad. My postal address is:
Dublin City University,
Dublin 9, Ireland.
BEFORE LEAVING 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
`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
VISITS BY DCU STAFF
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.
CURRENCY TRANSFER AND BANKING
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'.
COST OF LIVING
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 â‚¬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
* 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
HEALTH AND SAFETY
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.
ACCIDENTAL INJURY POLICY
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 http://www.ireland.com. There is also an email service if you
wish to receive a daily summary. RTE website at http://www.rte.ie. 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).
PROS AND CONS
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 â‚¬25 and â‚¬40 return with a student card. A
semester student discount ticket can be purchased for about â‚¬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
â‚¬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 â‚¬35.
COST OF LIVING
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 â‚¬600 - â‚¬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 â‚¬950 per month. It is advisable to bring at least â‚¬700 in cash and set up internet
banking before leaving Ireland and perhaps get a credit card for emergencies.
FOOD AND DRINK
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
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 â‚¬3.00. Joining the Students' Union in Innsbruck costs about â‚¬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 - â‚¬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 â‚¬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.
COST OF LIVING
Depending on where you are, the cost of living can be from â‚¬400 - â‚¬900 per month. To
cover rent and deposit and initial expenditure it would be necessary to bring at least â‚¬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. GÃ©nÃ©ral 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 (â‚¬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.
FOOD AND DRINK
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 â‚¬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 â‚¬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
FOOD AND DRINK
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.
COST OF LIVING
Switzerland is one of the most expensive countries to live in Europe.
FOOD AND DRINK
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
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
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 â‚¬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.
COST OF LIVING
The cost of living ranges form â‚¬500 - â‚¬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.
FOOD AND DRINK
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 â‚¬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
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.
FOOD AND DRINK
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 InglÃ©s 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
â‚¬100 - â‚¬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
COST OF LIVING
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.
FOOD AND DRINK
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
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 -