The Mentor Program is one of many ESN projects that can help you feel the climate of Erasmus in your own city. Therefore, this is a great opportunity for those people who for various reasons have not had the chance to study abroad, just enjoy the international environment or are returning from their Erasmus and would not like to leave it so soon. A student from a local university, also known as a mentor, mainly helps to acclimatise a student from abroad. Mentor is a “treasury” of valuable knowledge and useful tips, which an exchange student will need, especially in the first days of his or her staying in a new country.
Where does it all start?
Firstly a future mentor and foreign student apply to the local section a few weeks before the start of the new semester, usually by filling in an application form. The real adventure begins when both of you receive each contact. Starting your first conversation, even in the online world, may not be the easiest. At the very beginning you will try to break the language barrier, often crossing your own comfort zone. However, the benefits that we can gain from this are incomparably impressive! If you are wondering what questions you can hear from the exchange student, do not worry — they will be much easier than those on the matriculation examination. Usually mentee is concerned by topics like studying at a university, how life looks in a city or what prices are in supermarkets. Of course, you cannot miss the most popular topic, which is the weather. Foreign students go on an exchange often without knowing the language of the country, that’s why the help of a mentor is very important in some situations.
If you’re a mentor to several exchange students, you must also be aware that sometimes there are situations impossible to predict. For example, becoming a translator during a visit to a doctor, or when all of your mentees arrive at the same time, but at different stations. Then you have to find a way to appear in two places at once!
However, being a mentor of a foreign student is not only about duties and a mailbox or messenger overloaded with various questions, but it is also great fun and long lasting friendships!
Each local section of the Erasmus Student Network has many interesting events that integrate international students with a local and academic community. You get a unique chance to taste "Erasmus Life" without leaving the country. The Mentor Program also provides a great opportunity for personal development, making friends with people from all over the world and exposing yourself to many other cultures and their customs. In addition, you expand your horizons, and you also have a opportunity to learn foreign languages with a native speaker or share your traditional meal recipes.
Can you believe that all of this is possible without leaving the country?
The merging of different cultures with each other's personalities and experiences does not last only during an exchange, but it is an acquaintance that will survive the test of both time and distance! Of course, it can also be a start to making travel dreams come true! It is definitely easier, more pleasant and safer to be aware that outside the borders of our city or country there is someone we can count on!
You can create endless lists of benefits of being a mentor to an exchange student. However, no words will be able to fully convey all the emotions, stories and memories associated with it ... you have to experience it on your own!
Do you want to become a mentor for international students? Or maybe you are going on an exchange and would like to find your mentor? Write to your local ESN section!
Sections in Poland → https://www.esn.pl/en/sections-poland
Sections in other countries → https://esn.org/sections
Author: Julia Owczaruk (PR Committee of ESN Poland)