For students on Jessica Gough’s Applied Languages degree course, spending time abroad was compulsory. However, as she has cerebral palsy which affects her mobility and balance, she was offered the option of staying in Ireland. ‘I decided to go. As someone who does not give up, I wanted to rise to the challenge. I didn’t let my disability hold me back. I think in fact it made me even more determined to make my Erasmus experience a success.’
Living away from home for five months and appointing a personal assistant to help with day to day activities were ‘obstacles to be overcome. I was absolutely determined to make this wonderful opportunity a success.’ Having chosen to study Irish, French and Spanish in Ireland, she used her time abroad to study Catalan alongside her Spanish, French and translation courses and also completed a Comenius placement in a primary school in France. It was during her placement that she had the opportunity to learn about Occitan, one of France’s regional languages. Together with Catalan, this exposure inspired her to write about minority languages in her final year dissertation.
She knows that she has ‘proven she can live and study independently in another European country and has grown in stature as a consequence.’ For her, ‘the decision to partake in the Erasmus experience changed my life in a number of ways and had an enormous impact on my academic and personal development.’ Following her graduation in 2011, she is now working as an English language assistant in a primary school in the South of France.
University of Limerick, Ireland
Autonomous University of Barcelona, Spain (Universitat Autonòma de Barcelona, España)
5 months (2009)