“Changing lives, opening minds” - this is how the Foundation for the Development of the Education System promotes going on Erasmus+ . There is no need to decide whether this statement is true or not. Going on a student exchange and facing another reality changes people. Suddenly, you are in a foreign country. At the very beginning left on your own. During a very short time you get challenged, you make a whole lot of friends, who - just like you - have brought their customs, experiences and views to a new place. So, what exactly will being abroad change in your life?
1. You open up to new cultures and opinions
Staying abroad makes you open to people from all manner of divide. Every person you meet can surprise you with something. Moreover, during events or evenings spent together, you get the opportunity to get to know other cultures inside-out. Discussions enable you to compare your perception of a country to the information from people who live in that reality everyday. It appears that stereotypes have very little in common with the truth.
2. The language barrier disappears
Before going abroad, each of us tries to speak as correctly as possible. We focus on using conditionals, past tenses, passive voice and various pronouns… We prepare sentences in our heads multiple times, overthink whether it is right and if it will be understood. Everything is fine until the moment when you need to talk in a foreign language for a longer period of time. Eventually you reach a conclusion that the most important thing is to be understood to such a degree to obtain what you came for.
3. You have friends are all over the globe
After an exchange, when each of your friends comes back to their country, it will be hard to meet everyday like before. Therefore, when you see each other once or twice a year, you will find endless conversation pieces. The most important element of the meeting is the fact you get to meet your friends after such a long time. Either you visit them abroad, or they come to you. You can show each other some breathtaking places from where you both live and prepare regional foods. And if you pay with a smile and you bring some foreign snacks, the costs for accommodation will be equal to zero.
4. You stop caring for things you cannot change
We like to run to meet our troubles. In our heads we create worst case scenarios and multiple solutions for problems that will never happen. You cannot change the fact that it is raining on a day of your road trip. You can arrange a meeting in a café, it does not have to be outside. You start appreciating you got to meet at all, the rest does not matter. In general, if the lake has not dried out for the last 100 years, it won’t for another 3 days. You begin to use common sense in thinking about blind alleys. The solution appear in approximately 15 minutes.
5. You start to manage your budget reasonably
Going abroad teaches you one thing - how to spend your money in order to sightsee as much as possible and how to make the most of your spare time, not starving nor being homeless! It’s not easy, but if you learn how to manage it, you will be able to plan your budget ahead during and after your Erasmus adventure. After coming back home, you surely will not forget those rules for a long time. Due to your exchange experience you will not go shopping hungry or just put anything in the basket. Before you buy something, you will think twice, how this purchase is going to affect your budget for the rest of the month. Your parents will be shocked to see their grown up kid treat the financial matters so seriously, meanwhile you will be saving up for another goal.
6. You are making yourself employable
Studying abroad on Erasmus is a thing worth mentioning in your CV. It is a good topic to talk about during your first job interviews. In the eye of your potential employer you will make a better impression than those, who share your level of work experience, but have not been on Erasmus. The interviewer will surely be interested in your feelings about the exchange. You may be asked about what has motivated you to make such decision or if the international environment was a challenge. Definitely, they will want to know what skills you have gained during your stay abroad. Employers appreciate soft skills that are only available to those who have spent a long time in a new setting, let alone abroad. Exposure to other cultures, working in an international environment, being able to work in a diverse group, developed communication skills are just a small part of what you can learn during your Erasmus exchange and thanks to which, you will be a better candidate for your future job.
It is just a small percentage of what Erasmus will change in your life. Some of your friendships will go off and after coming back it will be difficult to get in touch. Some will survive this test of time and distance. During the first weeks in Poland you are in the spotlight. Most of the time when you will be meeting family or friends, you will be asked millions of questions about the exchange. And you will be answering all of them. There is one thing you can be sure of, a student exchange is an individual matter for all of us. However, everyone who has tried it, changed for the better.
Written by Paulina Bałys, translated by Marcelina Wyrwińska