Hannah's Erasmus Story

September 5, 2016 3:00 PM
Originally published by UK Liberal Democrats


I went to the Universidad de Salamanca in Spain for my Erasmus year.

My degree was in Spanish and Politics, so I chose that university because it offered the kind of politics courses I needed to meet Edinburgh's requirements.

It was in a beautiful old town - the Universidad itself was founded in 1218, and there is a frog carved into the facade of one of its buildings that is supposed to bring you luck for the year.

Although it's incredibly difficult to spot it from the street after centuries of wear and tear, its powers must have rubbed off on me at least a little because I was lucky enough to benefit from the Erasmus grant. This helped me meet so many great people and have fantastic new experiences.

I met my language partner Natalia while on the programme and we still help each other with the finer points of English and Spanish grammar.

She moved from Salamanca to Edinburgh to do a Masters after spending her Erasmus year abroad at the University of Edinburgh - that was my university, so we originally bonded over our experiences there. We met up a week or so before the EU referendum and I found out she's going to start a PhD here.

hannah_2.pngI worry about her sometimes because of the things the government says about EU citizens' right to stay in the UK.

While in Salamanca I also met Chema, who I befriended after I asked him for help in Politics class (repeatedly!) He shared his notes and some information from a book that he had found with me.

Actually, I would not have passed the final exam without him - classical and modern political theory is difficult enough in my native language!

I helped his girlfriend Ane with her Masters coursework because she needed to interview non-native Spanish speakers - there were a group of Masters students that taught Spanish as a second language and she was one of them. That was another opportunity Salamanca gave me - two of Ane's friends taught my group's classes and explained language points to us through songs.

When I was closing my bank account to come home, a thunderstorm started up and I was trapped in the bank. Chema and Ane came to rescue me (with one umbrella between three people) because they were out shopping and saw my Facebook post about the situation.

We all went to get tostadas in a little cafe, soaking wet and sitting around a tiny table. Chema sadly passed away in May but that afternoon is one of the happiest memories I keep of my time in Spain.

Erasmus gave me many great opportunities and my Spanish is so much better than it was.

I took up an interpreting class to challenge myself in second semester. This required me to use the correct tenses as well as developing a more technical vocabulary.

After the UK elections in May, I started to notice that Spanish parties were handing out leaflets around the Faculty of Law and decided to go along to a Ciudadanos local election party.

hannah_3.pngThey went on to win 40 seats in the national parliament later that year, and have joined the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe.

Not only did I get to experience a little bit of Spanish political history, I have since volunteered as a polling agent for them in the Edinburgh Consulate and I hope to affiliate to them fully when I go back to Spain in September.

I have developed a lifelong love for Spain and will be starting a teaching assistant job with the British Council - my experience in the Spanish Red Cross working with children and young people definitely helped me get that placement.