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alkamid

Living in the Cambridge bubble

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Paperwork

I am still not sure about my sources of funding so I will wait with writing about them until I know more. However, most of the paperwork required by both universities is already filled, I can tell you something about bureaucracy.

I am financed by Erasmus Lifelong Learning Programme and a significant amount of documents were required by them. Some of them were supposed to be easy to get, like European Health Security Card or a confirmation from my bank that I have an EUR account. I somehow managed ― with a great help from the bank and Polish health service — having troubles with both. There are a few more documents that you have to provide but the most “serious” is Training Agreement in which you have to write what you are going to do during your internship. Even though our Erasmus site says the deadlines are 4-6 weeks before the start of the placement, I think it is only to make sure you do not start to collect everything a few days before. I submitted my TA three weeks ago and that was soon enough.

I encountered a problem with a Letter of Intent, because WrUT’s International Office insisted that it had to be written according to their template, then signed and sent by snail mail by Cambridge administration. People in Cambridge, on the other hand, wrote it using their own template, scanned it and sent it by e-mail. Eventually my IO said I could send it when I got there.

The real paperwork madness started when I had to deal with the Dean’s office, although I can understand why. The problem is, I stay in Cambridge until the end of the year, but I study at WrUT at the same time. It would not be possible if prof. Misiewicz did not help us (Karolina and Maciek, who are in Würzburg, had to go through this as well). He actually spoke to the Dean about our case and tried to resolve it every time the words of students — us — were not enough. We had to apply for doing the 7th semester externally, which means we will not attend courses but we will have to pass the assessments somehow. Our Dean agreed that we take only three courses which are supposed to be easy so that we can focus on the research. Unfortunately, the Dean’s permission is only the beginning: you have to submit a proposed program for the semester, bachelor’s thesis details, permissions from professors whose courses we chose, BSc supervisor’s permission, have your grades carefully checked etc. It took ca 2 weeks to get it all.

Conclusion: it would be much easier for students if the whole process was smoother and/or supervised by someone. A few times we were going back and forth because no one really knew what had to be done. I hope that with our experience the administration will be better prepared for such situations in the future. Anyway, if you talk to the right people and you are determined, you will eventually get what you want, the only disadvantage being your legs hurt.