So! By about February of this year I knew I wasn’t going to pass my year abroad in The Netherlands, and I suffered a lot of anxiety at the thought of having to pay back Erasmus grants and generally at the unknown consequences. I spent hours trawling through the internet, searching for others like myself who had failed, but I could find nothing. Just forums saying ‘oh you have to pay back the grant’. Shit. Or so I thought.
But it is super common to fail! I know of three other English friends who have failed. So four of us, at least, at one university all failed. I instantly felt better when I found this out.
Let me talk reasons for failing. It wasn’t (at first anyway) a lack of effort. Firstly, my education background is in English Literature. I’d spent my last two years of uni studying literature, and two years before that studying literature, history and philosophy. Unsurprisingly, the Netherlands isn’t hot on ENGLISH literature, and so I was thrown into third year business, art history and loads more random classes which I had NO background in. Quite simply, it was bloody hard!
Secondly, I always wanted to use my year abroad to travel more round Europe, and I succeeded in this, visiting more than 10 countries and loads more cities. But this meant that I missed some classes. So my year abroad academically was a failure, but I would argue I learnt more in visiting the Fotografiska in Stockholm, than I did in an art history lecture.
And then there was the issue of homesickness. I wasn’t actually homesick per se. But I went home for Christmas, and I was meant to fly back to Nijmegen after just a week and a bit, but when I was home I didn’t want to return because I was so happy at home, and so I extended my stay to a month. I missed some exams. At this point I could’ve made up the credits in the second semester, but that didn’t successfully happen.
But I just want to reiterate, it is so much more common to fail than you’ll hear made out. If you’re reading this and are a few months into your Erasmus, worried you won’t pass- don’t worry!!! They ask you to take a hell of a lot of credits! Failing just means ‘with a year abroad’ won’t be in your degree title. Oh well!
Most importantly, I haven’t been asked to pay anything back. I could prove that I spent my whole year in Nijmegen, so obviously the money went on my year abroad. If you’re failing, and you just quit and go home, you may have to pay it back, but don’t do that! Just because the academic side isn’t going well, it doesn’t mean the year’s a write off!
Thanks for reading. It’s the first time I’ve properly spoken about failing my year abroad with anyone, and it’s a weird one because I’m not proud but at the same time I couldn’t really have done anything differently. So yeah! Make sure you’re following for more Jarrad!
*UPDATE* It’s been a year since my year abroad now and I’ve got my degree grading and whatnot and failing my year abroad was never an issue regarding anything- and nothing had to be repaid!