June 27, 2016, by Emily Howard

How the EU enriched my degree

It’s no secret, I am a Europhile. Since I was a child, annual trips to France were the highlight of my summer. As soon as I got the chance, I took up French so that I could understand what my family and their friends across the stream were chatting about – 10 years later, I’ve visited no fewer than 13 European countries.

Despite my love for the continent, going to an English university was an obvious choice, and Nottingham fit the bill perfectly. When deciding which boxes to tick on UCAS, one of the prime reasons that Notts was first on my list was the immense opportunity to study abroad. UoN advertises itself as a “global university”, and it really is just that. On the open day, current students described to me the fantastic times they had studying abroad and the vast range of universities outside the UK in partnership with our very own UoN. At the time, my social media was filled with pictures of friends on their gap years – but I thought I had the better deal. Studying AND travelling?! Mais oui!

Travelling is all very well, but rather tricky if talking to other people once there is impossible. One of the best things about my degree, and UoN, was the opportunity to take up a language as a subsidiary module. But what language to choose?! The Language Centre offered 11 options! Wanting to try something new, I ditched French for Dutch.

A few months later I faced the tricky choice of choosing where to spend my semester abroad. Admittedly, China and Malaysia seemed incredible but rather distant, and as a language enthusiast other English-speaking countries did not hold my interest. Europe won me over again… and there was no point letting that Dutch go to waste! I flew out to Amsterdam ASAP.

Spending a semester abroad was one of the best opportunities I have ever taken, and one of the most enriching experiences of my life. It also enriched my degree – quite literally. As part of the Erasmus programme (where European students have the opportunity to study at other European universities with a grant), I not only received a grant to cover my expenses in A’dam but also my tuition fees were reduced from 9 grand for the year to 6. Financially speaking, as well as academically and socially speaking, nothing but the highest praise can be given to such a fantastic scheme.

I graduate this summer and, come September, I will be back in the Netherlands to do a Master’s degree. Touch wood, the tuition fees for EU counties are still applicable – if not, who knows what I’ll do. Politics aside, from a purely higher ed. perspective, leaving the EU is a huge step backwards. Globalisation is the future. Young, intelligent brains co-operating together on international matters from a framework of solidarity and progression was a vibrant, precious, even genius, phenomenon. Who knows what the future holds – all I am left with is honour to have been a part of it, and fear for the future of it.


The Erasmus Bridge in Rotterdam – named after the Dutchie who started it all


You may be asking how the UK’s decision to leave the EU will affect you. Read a message from The University of Nottingham Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir David Greenaway, and Frequently Asked Questions for students.

Posted in Emily