In Conversation

On the Road During the Erasmus Semester

For many students, international exchange is an integral part of their studies. The Erasmus+ program is an opportunity to spend a semester in another country. Such an exchange is always linked to questions of mobility. How do I get there? How do I travel back? We spoke to a student about her own experiences.  

Lea Hagen, please tell us who you are and what you are studying.

My name is Lea Hagen and I studied environmental engineering with a specialization in water management at RWTH Aachen University. The three Erasmus semesters that I was able to complete particularly enriched my time at university.

You studied at RWTH Aachen University and spent a semester at a partner university through the Erasmus+ program. Where did you spend your semester abroad? What role did climate-friendly arrival/departure considerations play in your choice of partner university?

Lea Hagen: I had already spent an Erasmus semester in Norway for my bachelor’s degree, and for my master’s degree, I was able to spend two semesters at Luleå Tekniska Universitet (LTU) in the north of Sweden. I experienced and learned an incredible amount there and I can certainly recommend an Erasmus semester to anyone. Travel considerations played only a minor role in my choice of partner university. It was much more important to me that there was a student dormitory near the university and that the courses offered matched my interests. I also wanted to travel to the Scandinavian countries and live there for a while. I only started to think about the journey when it really came to planning a few weeks before the trip.

The picture shows seven people on a train. Three people are sitting at a table. Four people are standing. They are all smiling at the camera.
On the train: From Luleå in Sweden back to Germany
Lea Hagen

Tell us about the trip and your experiences! How did you (finally) travel and did you make use of the Green Travel Support provided by the RWTH International Office, for example?

Lea Hagen: I used the plane on the way to Luleå, as it was the quickest and most comfortable way to get to the far north of Sweden – unfortunately, that’s not very climate-friendly, of course. On the way back, I decided to travel by train – it was more sustainable and even cheaper. From Luleå to Stockholm we took the comfortable night train. I then spent two more days exploring the Swedish capital with my Erasmus friends before we parted ways, and I took the train back to Aachen via Hamburg. When I was on my semester abroad, Green Travel Support was unfortunately not yet available – otherwise I would, of course, have liked to have taken advantage of it and possibly also managed my journey using a sustainable means of transport.

Looking back, what advice or tips would you give to other Erasmus students, especially regarding travel planning?

Lea Hagen: My advice to other Erasmus students is to think about your arrival/departure early on. Train tickets, for example, are often even cheaper than plane tickets. You can apply for Green Travel Support if most of the overall trip is made using sustainable means of transportation – a good incentive for climate-friendly travel. The other advantages of sustainable travel are obvious: you have fewer luggage restrictions and can take your time on the way to enjoy the journey and explore your new home. An Interrail ticket, for example, can be an inexpensive way to turn the journey to your semester abroad into a little adventure.

Thank you for answering our questions!