"My Erasmus time was
one of the defining experiences of my life."
In January 2012 I moved to Bonn, Germany to start my Erasmus experience. I had gotten an internship with a large German company for the work experience part of my Creative Digital Media course. This meant that for the next 6 months, I would be immersed in German life. On my own. With minimal German.
Did it worry me moving to Germany with next to no German? Sure. But I felt, and still do, that the benefit of it far outweighed any downsides. Awkward social interactions and getting a bit lost aren't worth hiding from in Dublin. And what better way to improve a language than to go where they speak it natively?
At the time, my area of work was video and photography. A quick glance at my hard drive from that time shows I took just under 2,000 photos while in Bonn. By going out and taking photos of the city, I quickly learnt my way around and got a feel for it. I would recommend this as a nice excuse to wander a city. Plus, it’s hard to get lost when you have a photo trail from where you began, right?
The job I had in Bonn was as a communications intern. I was there to help out with the English section of the company’s website, updating content and proofreading. What I quickly learned, though, was that I hated it. I hated that job so much. As a “creative”, I wanted to make videos, take photos, design - not copy and paste text into a bad CMS. It became apparent to myself, my boss and my work colleagues, that we weren't a good fit. And you know what? That’s okay.
While at the time I dreaded going to work, I think it was a very important experience. Just because you get a job at a great company does not mean you have to be delighted. Sometimes the work, setting, company (people and/or business) isn’t a right fit for you. People spend years unhappy in their work, wishing they had known sooner that it wasn’t for them. I’m glad that I was able to find out before I left college that this line of work wasn’t for me. It pushed me to work harder in what I did want to do and how I could achieve it.
This may read as if I hated my Erasmus experience. Nothing could be further from the truth. My Erasmus time was one of the defining experiences of my life. The job was not for me, but every other aspect of my time was great. New places, new people and new experiences all helped me develop as a person. I came back to Ireland more confident and focused on my long term career goal.
I’m now working as a motion graphics designer in Dublin. And I can say without hesitation that my Erasmus time helped me get here. By learning what I didn’t want to do, I could focus on what I did want.
Daire O Suilleabhain (GUYWITHREDBEARD), April 2017
(Institute of Technology Blanchardstown - Bachelor in Creative Digital Media)