As a student, I personally studied for one academic year at the Freie Universitaet Berlin, Germany. It was an opportunity which was presented to me when I was an undergraduate following a 4-year Business Studies & German programme. And what an experience! Everything was new and exciting – from the huge number of university students at FU Berlin (over 60,000), to integrating and socialising with other international students and locals, to enjoying all 4 seasons (under -10 in the winter to over 30 degrees Celsius in the summer). The cultural opportunities of visiting the theatre, opera, museums, palaces, castles – all at reduced student rates - were amazing. Berlin is a fascinating city. And I got to travel by train throughout Eastern Europe with my band of international & German friends. Friends, some with whom I am still in contact today.
I also got the opportunity to work abroad during my undergraduate studies – as an intern (‘Praktikantin’) at Siemens in Munich, Germany. That is another memorable experience – in meeting other interns from around Europe, but also in experiencing working life in an international context. I have fond memories of Sekt (sparkling wine) brought in to celebrate birthdays in the department (quite the norm in Germany), along with cake and goodies, where a morning break to wish someone happy birthday could extend into the afternoon, particularly on a Friday after a long week. It was work hard – play hard, and most rewarding. Also fantastic to add to the CV as part of the programme.
Maynooth University offers undergraduate students who have successfully completed (that is, passed!) their second year on their undergraduate programme to apply to study abroad for two semesters or one academic year. In essence, this extends a 3-year Business degree to a 4-year Business International degree. Students, returning after their year abroad, finish the final year of their studies. I could not recommend this more, for any students that have the flexibility to live abroad for an academic year.
Maynooth University also provides placement opportunities to undergraduate students on particular programmes (not currently open to students studying Business through Arts, as placement is not part of that programme; however, study abroad is). Similar to the study abroad option, the three year Business degree is extended to a four-year degree. This option takes place after the successful completion of second year.
However, the preparation for placement (and indeed, for study abroad) commences in semester one of 2nd year. This is when students need to complete expression of interest forms to register their interest in studying abroad with the Maynooth University International Office, or their interest in work placement with the Maynooth University Placement Office.
The opportunities and learning you will gain from either or both experience goes beyond academic learning, and includes personal awareness, confidence and independence – traits which are invaluable for the rest of your lives.
In short, if you have the ability to avail of the opportunity to study abroad or go on work placement (abroad or in Ireland), then consider it wisely and don’t dismiss it. It could change your life, career and future!