Erasmus Testimonies

UCC Judo have been extremely lucky in the past few years in terms of the talent acquired from both home and abroad. In this section of the site are the stories of just a few of the students we’ve had the honor of having at the club and the role UCC Judo played in their time in Cork.

André Araújo, Brazil

From august of 2015 to may of 2016, I studied at UCC as a
visitor student. During this period, I was part of the UCC Judo
club, which turned to be a experience much better than I had expected.

The guys from the club were quite receptive, friendly and
respectful. David Holmes, the coach, is very open to new
opinions along with being a great judo coach.

I also met different people at the club, which made my
experience at UCC much richer. In the beginning of 2016 I
traveled to Derry to compete at the Intervarsities. This
turned to be a great weekend not just because of judo, but
also the experience of traveling with the team and meeting
new people in Derry. The club also organizes some nights out,
that are great for visiting students to make new friends
and have a better experience abroad.

Thus I strongly advise any student of UCC, especially the
visitors, to take a look at the Judo club. This can make your
experience much better.

Francesco Massardo, Italy

I’ve been practising judo since I was six. It has always been a big part of my
life, especially in the last seven or eight years. That’s why when I decided to
move to Cork for my Erasmus adventure, the judo club I would have found
there was one of the things I mostly looked forward to know.
After the six months I spent in Ireland I must say UCC judo club was far
better than anything I could expect.

I found a perfect ground for meeting new friends, new cultures without
losing my sport career. Dave, the coach, couldn’t be more kind to me: he
never stopped looking after me and helped me in getting more comfortable
with a new experience; moreover every mate, from the captain to the most
experienced judokas, without forgetting the beginners that always took my
advice in great consideration, always made me feel I never lost the unique
club friendship that I was so afraid to lose.

In those six unforgettable months I experienced many competitions, both in
Ireland and NI, outside trainings, a wonderful intervarsities success and
many funny moments, even outside the tatami.

Again, I couldn’t have wished for a better adventure.

Miguel Sanchez, Spain

My name is Miguel Sánchez. I’m a Spanish student who spent a great Erasmus 2016-2017 year in
University College Cork, Ireland. I have hundreds of things to say about this year, but I will explain
why I’m so proud and happy to have chosen UCC for my Erasmus. So, why UCC?

First, because of international people. I come from Madrid, a 2.5 million inhabitants city, so what
could I expect from Cork? Lucky me when I discover that the life in the city goes around UCC. The
high number of international students hosted by UCC create the best atmosphere to feel integrated:
hundreds of people came from other countries in your same situation. It makes Cork a
recommended city for everyone who want to spent some university years there.

Second, because of the services. The infrastructure of UCC is absolutely complete, from the
international departments, to the Sport Centre, Library, Health Centre, etcetera. You feel really
safe when all this services are given by the university, and it solves one of the main points when you
choose your international destiny: the services and facilities.

Third, because of the culture. Cork is a really cultural city, which is so stimulant for any student.
It gives you the opportunity to have a complete international student, with alternative and opened
environments. There is always something to do. And it is great as well that the university, UCC, adopts
also an open-minded attitude and participates in creating this context.

And last, but not least, because of the local people. And, for me, this means UCC societies and clubs.
It is absolutely amazing how so many association can be managed. In my opinion this is the best
showcase for the university and one of the best ways to integrate foreigners not only with other
foreigners but with Irish people. This is not always an easy issue when you go abroad, but clubs and
societies obliged you to share time with local people as well and this is perfect for integration.
For me, the last part has and own name: UCC judo club. I was lucky to join the because they become
one of the best parts, if not the best, from my Erasmus. They became my real ‘Irish’ Erasmus and I
feel so lucky to have lived that. Quickly I’ll explain why it was so good. First, the welcome was not
only about words but about facts. They were so opened form the very first moment, from the sensei
and the captain to the whole team, not only in the trainings but in social meetings as well. Second,
the judo level. I was surprised by the fact that a University Club is fighting in the top national level
not only in university competitions, but in both university and senior championships. The possibility
to compete at the highest level in the country was an important incentive. And third, the European
University Games. I never have thought that I would be able to go to this kind of competition, even
more in other country. It was surprisingly to see how the club fought for putting a team in that
competition, included myself. The European University Games were the best Erasmus’ end I could
imagine. It collected the best elements form my Erasmus: representing UCC with both international
and Irish friends in the best year I have ever lived.

Alexandre Bogdan

When I first chose Cork as my destination for the Erasmus scholarship, I was thinking about how
everything will go there. I was excited about the “new” that I was going to find, but as almost any
other human being I still had reservations about leaving the “old and familiar” for the 4 months

First days since my arrival and I heard out about the societies and clubs event. I found it very nice
and interesting, because in the city I’m studying there aren’t any activities like these related to the
university. This is one of the reasons I gave up Judo. But here I am again, having the chance to do
Judo through UCC.

Lacking training and minus a judogi I was a bit unsure if I should really go, but I’m glad I did. The
people I found there were simply amazing. They made me feel like I was home. It’s so hard to
describe in words. I love Judo so much and finding a group that also does that was the perfect setup.

I had the same feeling as the one for which I started doing Judo in the first place. Everyday I was
walking to UCC for the courses, back home, and then again to Mardyke for the training (10 km
everyday) and I did this even after I twisted my knee one night. I wanted to be there every single

In my first competition for UCC in Derry with Luke Hickey and our coach David Holmes we contested
the three man team event. The last fight in the Derry team competition showed that Judo is also a
sport of mind. Making a strategy for it and winning it by 2-1 demonstrated that you can lose a battle, but you
can win the war. Dave fought alongside us and brought the trophy back home by beating an opponent way heavier
than him. Team spirit, strategy and motivation are strong qualities that judo promotes.

The Irish Judo Championships, was the first time I was fighting for something else than me and my
family. I was also fighting for the people I met there. I wanted to win just so I can bring back a gold
medal for all the people that supported me in this journey. I’m glad I was to deliver the result that
UCC Judo club deserved.

Judo is more than a sport, it’s a way of life. Let it train your soul and you will be amazed by the
person you are going to become. The most important lesson I learned from it is that: no matter how
hard something is, no matter what others tell you and no matter what the odds are there is always a
way, so be strong and never give up. It’s all about the mindset. When I started, everyone was telling
me to quit because I was losing all my contests, one month later I became National Champion.
People told me I couldn’t open my own company, because it is too hard, and I did it. If you listen to
others you will always live as much as others say. If you listen to heart, sky is the limit.
I think that with extraordinary people like Dave, Judo is having a bright future there and will
continue to grow. Thank you Dave, Katie, Luke and all the others again for the amazing time and for
being my family while I was there.