Humanities & Social Sciences placements

Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences' students share their placement and year abroad experiences.

Year Abroad V – the Erasmus paperwork and Welcome Week

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📥  2016-17, Politics, Languages & International Studies

Siena, Italy                                                           late March, 2017

Ciao! I’m back with a new post and this time it is all about the Erasmus paperwork. If you are going on your Year Abroad, then you will certainly be familiar with the Erasmus process to get that very much awaited grant. However, you will also know how much of a long process it is. Here is a breakdown.


Living the Erasmus life #ESN

What is Erasmus?

Erasmus+ is a European Union programme which provides opportunities and supports to EU students who want to study or work abroad in Europe for up to one year (2 or 3 months minimum depending on the activity). The EU allocates a certain amount of money to the programme and, as a participant, you may be eligible to receive an Erasmus grant – quantity of which changes depending on where you are doing your placement, for how long, what sort of activity you will be doing, and internal matters from the University and EU itself (every year the amounts tend to vary, which is why you are asked not to rely on your Erasmus grant as a part of your Year Abroad budgeting!).

Follow this link for more information about the programme:

One of the most important requirements, aside from being a registered student at University, is to complete all the paperwork within the set deadlines.

The Erasmus Paperwork

Probably the most tedious part of your Year Abroad. During the information sessions held by the University pre-Year Abroad we were clearly explained all about the Erasmus grant and paperwork. I must say, the Erasmus team at Bath are super-efficient and helpful with any doubts you might have – do approach them if something is not clear!

On Moodle you will find the basic spread of all the documents you have to go through in order to receive the grants (and probably sign up to modules in your receiving University since the Learning Agreement is pretty much your exchange contract!).

The University of Bath starts with the paperwork quite early on, which is great because then it doesn’t pile up or you are faced with having to deal with it once you are actually away from British soil. My biggest advice is to make a clear list of what documents you have to sign and hand-in but, above all, when they are due. Missing a deadline is the worst thing that can happen. It might sometimes not be the end of the world, but you definitely have to pay attention because missing a deadline can mean not getting the much needed grant…

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The Erasmus paperwork - you can find the chart on Moodle

Erasmus paperwork is different for both Traineeships and Erasmus+ Study. Again, you will find all the information and files on Moodle (your Holy Grail!), but roughly:

1.       Apply for either for a job or a study exchange.

2.       Complete an Online Language Assessment (OLS) – both before going on the exchange and after returning. The assessment is to check your language progress and is made to collect data for the EU. It’s a good way to track how much you’ve improved, but I wouldn’t worry too much about it!

3.       LEARNING AGREEMENT / TRAINEESHIP AGREEMENT – probably the most important documents because they are your ‘contracts’ with your receiving University where you will be doing your study placement or the agreement with your supervisor/company where you will be doing a placement. Keep this thing safe – I have a million copies of the document, all different versions and at different stages of completeness.

4.       Travel Insurance – I’d advice getting the one offered by Bath. It’s fairly cheap and comprehensive.

5.       Certificate of Arrival / Certificate of Departure – document certifying that you made it to sunny Italy or wherever your placement is, and the same after leaving. It seems like quite a trivial document but it’s very important in order to both receive your grant and the correct amount. It’s due two weeks after you arrive/leave, so don’t forget! It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement/post-Erasmus blues!

6.       Changes form – during your mobility you might need to change modules, make changes to the agreement or extend or reduce your mobility dates; this is the form to do that. Don’t change the original Agreement!

7.       Finally, the online report /transcript from Host University/After Mobility section – after your placement you have to fill in a report about it. It is a fairly tedious document, but necessary. You will need the collaboration of your supervisor or Host University, so I’d advice leaving this either done and dusted or ready to be before you leave.

When it comes to receiving the grant itself, Bath have split the payment in two instalments, as an incentive for you to finish the paperwork. Believe me, you definitely need the incentive.

My experience


If you’ve read the rest of my posts, you will know I worked at a local language school in Normandy called The English Centre des Hautes-Falaises. Fortunately for me, I had access to a printer so I could print and scan the paperwork, and my supervisor was very efficient when it came to signing the paperwork and getting it sorted. I was lucky in my case, because I know of other students who have had to actually pester their supervisors to fill in the papers, particularly after the placement, so make sure you get it done asap!


Now, studying in Italy is a whole different story. In Siena’s case, the Welcome Office deals with the arrival and departure certificates along with the transcript of records. The Ufficio Didattica deals with the actual Learning Agreement and any changes you might make, as well as signing you up to the modules you choose. And then there’s the Erasmus Coordinator. To be fair, after the induction it is fairly clear what steps you have to follow, however the nightmare arrives when your Coordinator is not where he or she should be according to their Office Hours… I had my LA signed back in February to avoid having to deal with it later on, as the deadline to hand it in at the office in Siena was the last day of March. I decided to wait until I made sure my modules didn’t clash before going to the office and, just as I did it, I was told I had to get the changes form signed. Yes, I was forced to change modules because we had to choose the options in Bath back in April when the 2016/2017 timetables were not yet available. Yes, I had to chase down the Coordinator. I went to his office a couple times as well as sent him emails. It felt like such a waste of time but, to be honest, it only made me appreciate the efficiency at Bath even more!

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·         Keep on top of it! Make sure you keep track of the documents you have to hand in, when they are due and have copies of them!

·         You need to hand-sign the Erasmus paperwork, which just makes it so much more complicated… This means you have to be able to print the forms, sign them, scan them, and send them back to the respective institution. Having a printer is ideal. I personally did not have one in either of my placements which made it slightly harder. I had access to the company printer during my placement in France, which was great. However, in Italy students generally don’t have/use printers. In this case, the copisterie or print shops will be your best friends. Bring a pendrive and shop around; expect to be spending a couple euros to get the whole paperwork process finished… Also, you can have scanning apps on your phone which turn photos into pdf documents and will save you money (life hack right there).

·         Make sure you know who has to sign what. Find out your Erasmus Coordinator’s Office Hours and contact details as soon as possible – you might have trouble finding the physical person like I did!

Studying in Italy: the ESN and Welcome Week


ESN Italia or Erasmus Student Network is an association of Italian university students who offer their help to foreign students and help them integrate into their Erasmus University. They are like the Erasmus club at a national, regional and local level and are in charge of organising different events – from formal inductions, guided tours and trips to fun events throughout the semester. As far as I’m aware, all of the Italian Universities that Bath has exchanges with have an ESN group.

The ESN group in Siena is amazing. All the volunteers are really friendly and helpful, which is great when you’ve just arrived. They also make sure to offer a variety of different events to take part in, great for meeting other Erasmus people and also some Italians! Definitely look for the ESN group when you arrive at your Italian university!

If you want to find out more, follow this link:

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Welcome Week for the second semester in Siena took place during the last days of February/first few days of March. During that week you had to be here so make sure you check your dates when booking your flights!

During Welcome Week we had the formal induction to the Università degli Studi di Siena in which we were given general information about the city and University, such as where the buildings are, the sports facilities, the banking system,… Each faculty also had their own specific induction (mine is Scienze Sociale, Politiche e Cognitive, even though I don’t actually follow any modules within that department) – make sure you find out when yours is because it will be when they give you all the information you need about Erasmus paperwork, choosing modules and actually visiting the building where your lessons will take place.

Alongside the ‘official’ events, the ESN committee organized a tonne of different fun events so that Erasmus students could meet each other. On Monday there was Happy Hour which was great, then there were also a few club nights as well as beer competition, wine tasting, and guided tours of the city and even an outing to Chianti. There was an event for everybody. It was a little bit like Freshers’ Week but Italian style – everything a tad more disorganized and late! I really enjoyed it, so make sure you attend the events! The last night – la Festa al Rettorato – was a proper Erasmus student experience to start the exchange with a bang!

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I hope you found this post useful. Even though the Erasmus paperwork is quite tedious, the numerous opportunities and perks Erasmus+ gives you outnumber the drawbacks. As I said, make sure you keep track of dates but, above all, HAVE A GREAT YEAR ABROAD!

Alla prossima!





📥  Politics, Languages & International Studies

Firmare means to sign, and today we have found ourselves in the confusion of paperwork that is Erasmus, which would be perfectly manageable if we had a printer nearby to use! Unfortunately we can’t find one anywhere which means we are bit stuck on receiving our grant and officially letting the Uni know we have arrived. Also, our tutor here has never met, seen or spoken to us, it’s like he’s avoiding us… and everyone else makes their offices very hard to find, and changes their office hours daily so we can never find anyone to sign anything.


Shpock (sporca)

📥  Politics, Languages & International Studies

I'm back after a lovely Easter break with my family in England.

I learned this Neapolitan slang on the train and worked out that it means sporca, or “dirty”. A woman was telling off her daughter for touching the bin on the train. They pronounce the letter S more like a Sh in Neapolitan, and it gets pretty confusing when people talk it in the city. It does make me envy people in Tuscany who can pick up standard Italian in the street without even thinking about it!


Keeping Rad in Radelaide

📥  2016-17, Health

After being pretty quiet on the blogging front recently, I am back with lots of exciting things to report on! The past few months have been great fun - Adelaide, as always, has been the heart of constant enjoyment and lifetime memory-making opportunities. There has been an array of fantastic events recently such as the Fringe Festival, WOMAD Festival and various food and drink events and tasting festivals such as ‘Taste Australia’ which has been on this weekend.

‘Mad March’ has been my favourite time since living down Under. I enjoyed attending the Adelaide Fringe Festival watching a wide range of world-class acts and covering my face in glitter for the entirety of the Fringe! Some of my favourite shows included the infamous and utterly hilarious ‘Dragapella’ (yes, this is a real show AND they have multiple albums on Spotify), '360 All-Stars', a theatrical acrobatic group consisting of world renowned athletes, dancers and musicians and ‘Critically Will’, a fantastically entertaining comedy show by Australia’s most talented comic, Will Anderson. I’d definitely encourage checking them all out if you are thinking of heading to the Edinburgh Fringe – I’ll see you there!

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On the first night of the Fringe, there was a brilliant opening parade show. To get in the real Aussie spirit I thought that this selfie on the left was a must. The tent in the photo on the right was the venue for the first Fringe show that I saw which was called ‘Best of Ed’, a stand-up comedy show by 3 talented comedians from the Edinburgh Fringe.

As well as seeing some great shows, I loved the buzz of the city whilst the Fringe was on. There were heaps of pop up bars and amazing street food trucks. People from all over the world had come to Adelaide to watch the Fringe, it really was the place to be. Also, as part of the Festival, there were venues all over the city with live music, more food and drink places and a great excuse to catch up with friends, have a few drinks and a boogie, or see a last minute show after work! My favourite venues were the Royal Croquet Club and the Garden of Unearthly delights. One night I went to one of the venues for some food with a friend after work and very luckily bagged some free tickets for a show called YouTunes! It was hosted in a small but quirky tent in the Royal Croquet Club and ran by one incredibly talented musician with a mixture of instruments who made music out of the interactions and noises the crowed made, such as laughing, cheering and even speaking. It was comical, interactive and thoroughly entertaining!

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Here are some photos from the Garden of Unearthly delights, Royal Croquet Club, and ‘Secret Garden bar’!

So, big advice for anyone coming to Adelaide, or even Australia, on placement next year – be sure to check out the Fringe and all associated events, and save your pennies for what I guarantee will be the best month of your placement!


Argentine Activism

📥  Uncategorized

No matter how far away from your homeland you may be there is a sense of cultural memory and belonging, one that has the power to transcend borders. Scores of expats call Buenos Aires home, but the yanquis in particular are present in droves. In times of uncertainty we always have a choice although it may not seem clear. We can give in and be paralysed by the prospect of the unknown, or we can unite. Nearly 200 people united outside the U.S. embassy on the 21st January as part of the Women’s March on Washington, which was a march taking place across the world.

Despite the name being ‘Women’s March on Washington’ and the majority being women or Americans or both, there was still an inspiring mix of people; men, women, transgenders, people of all ethnicities, and all backgrounds united against a hateful figure who incites divisions. It was a very powerful event to be present at as people spoke so earnestly to complete strangers about their personal experiences with sexism and harassment, and with such a strong belief in change. It really made me believe that together, united, at that march and across the world there was a latent hope, and there would be a time that change could be enacted if such a drive for it exists.



This march invoked the activist warrior in me so it seems and in March I attended another march, though on a much bigger scale. In a previous post I’d written about gender relations in Mexico and the phenomenon of femicidio and how patriarchy or the machista society is very prominent in day to day life. This is perhaps a problem that I found was amplified in Buenos Aires, which given the European cultural traits which have otherwise permeated the city, ostensibly seems surprising. Cat-calls are far too common place, from dawn till dusk, or even a ‘linda’ and maintained eye contact. It bothered me so much I started to reply, or question them, and eventually I began to cat call men back. Those who I probed on their actions told me that it was a ‘cultural thing’ and that Argentine women ‘liked it’. But the women I spoke to certainly didn’t, and I even asked women passing by who agreed with me; still this wasn’t convincing. For the most part they stubbornly clung to their belief that it was their right to tell a woman how beautiful they thought they were.

The President of Argentina Mauricio Macri once commented that all women secretly love a good cat-call; if that is the leader of the country is it any wonder that men really don't see a problem with it? (N.B. see any parallels with Trump...?)

Taking this all into account it is then no surprise that International Women’s Day on March 8th drew thousands and quite literally stopped traffic. Every branch of feminist organisation in existence was out on the streets, with all their friends and family in tow. Police adorned every corner, and colour and banners filled the streets. 'que no me digas guapa'; 'don't call me pretty', 'mujer bonita es la que lucha'; 'a pretty woman is the one who fights', and of course the classic which I had heard in Mexico 'ni una menos, viva nos queremos'; 'not one (woman) less, we want us alive'. It was amazing, encouraging, and yet so disheartening. The fact that this was a visible demonstration of the angst and upset that women feel every day and yet some men, aware that these events and problems exist, still don't see the link or problem with everyday sexism such as cat-calling is problematic. But there remains hope.



📥  Politics, Languages & International Studies

Before I leave to go to England for Easter for a week,  I thought I should take the opportunity to post a photo of where I live! This is Chiaia, an absolute dream compared to the run down (still beautiful) and dangerous landscapes of the city center.




📥  Politics, Languages & International Studies

I probably knew words like this already from Bath (at least I should), but I thought I’d write how interesting it is studying French from an Italian’s perspective. Affinché means pour que or afin que in French (“in order that” in English). Our classes are interesting because most of them place a huge focus on pronunciation, something that has come very naturally to English students, and they work the language out very mathematically, with very specific rules of pronunciation that I have never seen before. In England we seem to just pick it up as we go along, which seems like a more natural way of learning. Also, in Italian they have to be reminded that you can’t put the article before a noun (e.g. gateau le, it has to be le gateau) because in Italian you can do this. But English people have never had to question it. Interesting!



📥  Politics, Languages & International Studies

This means meatballs, and I have developed a new love of making them! I make them every week from reduced hamburger meat, and they are super low cost and really nice. (Boring post but potentially the most exciting thing to happen all day!)



📥  Politics, Languages & International Studies

One thing I really should mention about Naples is that the university has not been as supportive as we thought. I honestly think they are just not used to having Erasmus students, let alone language-studying ones. All the courses they originally signed off for us last year they have cancelled which meant we had to panic and find enough credits to make up the semester. The Italian course they run has been canceled, which was really annoying since it is compulsory for us to study it. There was a time we thought we’d be forced to study (and unfortunately inevitably fail) a course like Architecture since that was the closest we could find, but luckily we have found a medieval history course and a French course worth a hefty 12 credits each. They’re not ideal but by far our best options that fit with the orario (timetable) we are putting together. My housemate is paying for an extra Italian class but I am being brave and a bit stupid by saving myself €100 and learning it by myself.



📥  Politics, Languages & International Studies

This means rechargeable or “top up”, and I learnt this word when buying myself a SIM card for my time here. A tip for future students? Go to TIM and they will give you a SIM card for 10€ that is also only 10€ a month for a lot of data and enough texts and calls. This is incredible compared to the €30 a month I was having to spending at Orange in France for the same deal.