From Ethiopia to Ireland


Elias traveled from Ethiopia to the Irish World Academy of music and dance to study for a semester through the Erasmus Plus International Credit Mobility Programme, here he reflects on his time in Limerick.

I arrived at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance, University of Limerick, in September 2017. After months of preparation and paperwork, I still did not know what to expect, luckily my friend Genene was starting this new adventure with me. Our first impression when we arrived was that everything is green, we soon learnt this was a result of the rain! Before coming to Ireland, we only knew where the island of Ireland is located and the types of music from the different provinces and we had seen Irish dancing on the television.  During orientation we were treated to a live Irish dancing performance in the concert hall which we will never forget!  It is even better in reality!

The biggest difficulty we had was that we found that the Irish people speak very quickly, which took time to get used to.  We found many differences in cultural nuances, for example in Ethiopia we would greet each other by shaking hands, here everyone is friendly and says hello but there is no shaking of hands unless it is a formal situation. The food is different, in Ethiopia we have a lot of different spices, we would eat enjera, which is a sourdough-risen flatbread traditionally made out of teff flour, it is a national dish in Ethiopia. In Ireland, we enjoyed mincemeat, cabbage, egg and milk.

We really enjoyed learning Irish music. The scales and rhythm of Irish music like the jig and reel contrast with Ethiopian music in terms of style and expression. At the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance (IWA), University of Limerick we had a rich learning experience. For each subject there was the theory class, the practical class and the ensemble class. This was a different approach to our school, where we would do all theory for one semester and then the practical sessions the next semester. The IWA were very supportive and helped us a lot, we brought our traditional instruments with us, but the IWA gave us a flute and guitar so we could take part in lots of other classes and learn new music. This experience has motivated us to seek more opportunities to travel and study abroad, we are really interested in discovering and having first-hand experience of other traditional music from other countries such as Latin and jazz music.


We feel that we have become more independent and have a different view of the world. The IWA is full of students from all over the world and we got to know people from all different cultures, we are more aware of our own culture and customs as well as other cultures across the world. We found that people were really interested in learning about us and our culture. We enjoyed the experience of living and studying in another country. We had lots of opportunities to share Ethiopian traditional music, we performed loads of times and shared the theory of our music with the students and staff in the Irish World Academy

We enjoyed visiting other cities and we really enjoyed the preparations for Christmas with the decorations. We really enjoyed our time in Ireland and would not have had this experience without the Erasmus Plus International Credit Mobility Programme.  We would like to thank Sandra and Niall in the IWA for giving us the opportunity to come to Ireland, their support and helping us learn and share so much. We will miss them and the new friends that we have made.

Learn more about our Erasmus Plus Programmes

Erasmus Plus International Credit Mobility Programme



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