The Alternative to Erasmus


by Shannon Sweeney.

Some of you are doing a degree that includes compulsory Erasmus.

From day one everyone will tell you it’s one of the most important experiences of university.

Unfortunately, some of you won’t be able to go; life happens, and things don’t always go to plan.

In my case, it was one of the best things that ever happened.

I am now an MA student in Community Research plus Journalism and I work in customer support with marketing as well as freelance content writing.

My undergraduate degree was in psychology and sociology.

In autumn 2018 I was due to study in Mannheim, Germany.

There had been a lot going on at home the previous year and it just wasn’t possible for me to go.

After a short application to the academic committee from my department, it was decided I would stay.

At UL when you don’t do Erasmus, you choose five modules that you wouldn’t do on your course.

They may be on the same subject as your degree, but they don’t have to be.

Whatever you choose is graded on a pass or fail basis and doesn’t impact your QCA.

Everyone around me, including one of my lecturers advised me to choose subjects I was curious about.

I chose:

  • Introduction to journalism
  • Interviewing and reporting
  • Introduction to digital media
  • Irish history 1666 – 1966
  • Contemporary Women’s Writing

I enjoyed all my modules and I still use much of what I learned, but I fell in love with journalism

By the end of my semester, I had decided I wanted to study journalism at the MA level.

I went back to my course and chose electives geared toward media and using psychology outside of research.

I also started writing again, redesigning my blog and contributing news stories to An Focal.

In my final semester, I heard about a new MA programme which combined either journalism or development with community-based research- Community Research Plus.

Had someone sat down and designed a programme around my interests they couldn’t have made one more perfect.

I applied and I was accepted.

This year I became a freelance guest writer for HidraWear and later for Therapy Hub as well as my role in customer support and marketing.

I don’t doubt that Germany would have been a lifechanging trip, but so was staying at UL.

Although I was sad, I did not get the chance to travel, I don’t regret anything because it was one of the best things that ever happened to me.

Had I have studied abroad; I don’t know where I would be today.

But I can’t imagine it being better than where I am now.



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