Friendships are crucial throughout life and they’re also those people who can have an amazing effect on our lives. That kind of influence helps us live and be ourselves.
Everyone is different, we come from diversified backgrounds, have various traditions and cultural heritage. We set ambitious goals and follow various paths. But there is one thing which is common for all of us. We’re craving long lasting human relationships. In order to be fully happy we look for intimacy with others. And that's when friends come to our aid!
Are the relations established during Erasmus permanent? How do international friendships affect our lives? We asked these and other questions to people who have already experienced the joy of spending one or two semesters with people from all over the world. See what impact international friendships had and continue to have on their lives.
What do international friendships mean to you?
“Making international friendships was one of the best aspects of my Erasmus. It really is an eye opening experience to meet and connect with people coming from different backgrounds. Not to mention that you can travel to lots of places and have someone to meet everywhere. It's nothing compared to meeting people in your home city or country. And also those friendships I think become even stronger because you realize that at some point you have to go back to your country or another place and so you connect even stronger and quicker. And at the same time, even if there’s even thousands of kilometers between you and your friends, those friendships are meant to last.”
Gabi Neaga, Erasmus in Poland 2019/2020
Does being a member of the Erasmus Generation community make it possible to find long lasting international friendships?
“Being the part of Erasmus Generation allows for finding stable international friendships. It's the influence of open-minded people who think outside the box. The perspective of other nationalities/cultures is fascinating, bringing new perspectives. For me it's even more as there are some physical barriers to overcome, and the willingness to stay in contact is stronger.”
Paulina Bednarek, member of ESN and former Erasmus+ student
How does it look in practice to make international friendships?
“We got to know each other at one of the ESN events, but at the beginning none of us showed any initiative to get to know each other better. Some time later we met again at one of the parties, and so we have been talking every day since then. He met my family, who changed their attitude towards people from other countries and were not even bothered by the language barrier. Together we made dumplings, steam noodles and other Polish dishes and even managed to prepare several Turkish meals. We have visited several Polish cities, and we intend to continue our travels together, but, this time outside the country.”
Klaudia Burska, member of ESN
What were your expectations for your relationship with the exchange students you were matched with and how did it turn out to be?
“Well, actually my expectations came true. When I came to Poland, I was a bit unsure in myself, because I didn't know anyone from Poland and other students. After 1 week studying at university, I already knew most people at my faculty. We were going out together and day by day we were exchanging our knowledge, culture and learning some common words in different languages, which was fun. After being in Lodz for more than 2 weeks, I have already forgotten about my homesickness and enjoyed my studies at University of Lodz and having a lot of international friends.”
Ellada Ibadova, Buddy and an International full-time student in Poland
What was the process of your buddy-friendship?
"I wanted to be a Mentor/Buddy for incoming students because back then I had to do everything on my own and that was complicated. It all starts with allocation; you have your mentees, plus they text you, ask you their concerns and then you are trying to solve their problems one by one. Then you realize that, as you went through “challenges” together, you have become good friends. One of my mentees turned out to be my neighbour. We were cooking together; practicing our language skills, exploring each other’s cultures and many more positive aspects."
Alladin Huseynov, Buddy and an International full-time student in Poland
What to do when the exchange ends? Is it difficult to maintain in touch and still be close to one another?
“We live in a globalized world. In a world full of computers, where it is hard not to be online all the time. Which means that it is very hard not to be in touch with others nonstop. For me, the coolest are the video calls, where you can actually see the other person. It is the most similar way to normal, face to face conversation. Some people say that it is impossible for long distance friendship to survive, that there is not enough time to keep it alive. My rule is very simple. I set a meeting with my friends as we were going out or visiting one another. The only difference is that I can see them on my laptop and I’m somewhere between their book and a cup, so the phone won’t fall down. And it’s kind of cute. We usually eat together. I cook my potatoes with pork chop and my friends make rice, pasta or pizza. And it’s beautiful. Plus, you can always get some nice recipes from other cuisines.”
Oliwia Jędrzejewska, member of ESN and former Erasmus+ student
What are the biggest advantages of international friendships?
“To my mind, the greatest advantage of having international friends is that they definitely open our eyes to all the adventures we can have. This kind of relations create incredible networks, lead us to understanding and encourage further discovery. Of course it might mean eventually having to say goodbye - but the most beautiful is that the strength of these bonds overcomes miles and borders, bringing not only two people together, but two places, closer together.”
Katarzyna Poskrobko, member of ESN and former Erasmus+ student
As we can see, Erasmus+ exchanges, other travels and an active participation in the Erasmus Student Network organisation or Buddy/Mentor Program can help establish great international friendships. This is definitely wonderful experience that everyone should try. Those possibilities allow us to expand our horizons!.We get to know new cultures, improve our language skills and have fun. Above all having more international friends increase our intercultural understanding. We become open-minded and create unforgettable memories!
Written by Aleksandra Kulesza