My Erasmus+ Exchange in Carlisle, Cumbria, in Northern England
by Hannes Gropengiesser
It is October 2016 and just a few months ago I found out the destination for my exchange. I will spend six weeks, just a few minutes from the Scottish-border in an English town called Carlisle. My first research brought me to google maps and, while it is far up north and not very big, Carlisle lies in the beautiful English countryside, near the Lake District and with historical sites all around, like Hadrian’s Wall.
Three days before the plane trip from Hannover over Amsterdam to England I had a phone call with Fiona (the organiser in Carlisle) and Jan, a colleague from Hannover. We received information about where we needed to be on Monday. We could also express our wishes about what we would like to see.
The travel itself was quick and easy to manage. We booked a plane with KLM from Hannover to Newcastle over Amsterdam and then continued via subway and train to Carlisle. I managed to buy the train tickets right away, which was cheaper and usually you get discounts when booking online.
Arriving in Carlisle I had to find my way to my pre-booked accommodation. This was a guestroom I found on couchsurfing.com, quite affordable and located only 20 minutes by foot outside the city centre.
On our first day we went to a Government Building on Hilltop Heights. It looks like an office building and that is what it essentially is. There we were introduced to different teams all working within the Carlisle community. We than found out that we would not be placed in a Hospital but instead we would be in working in these different Teams who operate outside the Hospital. This was quite surprising to us because we were given other information beforehand. Nonetheless, all the Teams we actually worked with really tried to make our time as interesting and enjoyable as possible. So, we learned a lot about the differences between the English and the German Health-systems and the services they both provide.
Working abroad, you will experience so many different and new impressions in your first week that you may begin to think that everything seems extremely unorganised compared to what you know at home. Well, sometimes that might be true! But just go with it and you will get used to it, while recognising that it is all somehow working just as well, only differently.
Be open to trying new things. If you get the chance to do 12 hour shifts, just go for it and try it. I personally found it quite good and enjoyed working three long days and having the rest of the week off.
In your time off you can enjoy yourself in the beautiful countryside around Carlisle such as the Lake District. Or you visit one of the pubs for a quiz- or music night. You can plan bus or train trips to Edinburgh, Newcastle or have a walk around Hadrian’s Wall.
Just enjoy your stay and be open to new things, experiences and ways of doing things. This Project is a great opportunity to start an exchange and a relationship with people from other countries not only at a personal level but also professionally.