So you hear your friends, people at university, on a bus or in a library talking about the Erasmus+ exchange? Or maybe you know someone who’s going? They all seem super excited when the topic comes up, don’t they? So what’s the deal with this whole Erasmus+ programme? Why is it so loved and why do so many people want to participate in it?
As you may have heard, Erasmus+ isn’t a year in a life, it’s a life in a year. You can experience and achieve so much during this short period of time, much more than you could have ever imagined. By definition, the Erasmus+ exchange is going to a different country to study there for a semester or a year. But in reality, it so much more. Erasmus+ is studying, it’s travelling, it’s meeting new people, it’s partying, it’s falling in love, it’s stepping out of your comfort zone, it’s discovering the part of you that you never thought existed. Everyone has a different story but I cannot think of a single person who would regret taking part in the exchange.
For some people, it’s the first time they leave their parents’ house. The first time to move to a new place and to become independent. It may be tough at the beginning, but there’s always someone to lend you a helping hand - from your university coordinator to your new roommate to your mentor to your local ESN section. The important thing to remember is that you’re not the only one. You are not the only person who’s coming to a new country, to a city he or she has never been to and who doesn’t know anyone there. Believe me, knowing people is the least of your problems! People tend to worry about it but that’s the easiest of the obstacles ever. Sometimes you get to see a familiar face from your hometown university somewhere at the airport or when you’re already on a plane, you discover that the person sitting next to you is also going on their Erasmus+ exchange. You meet other people at your new home - whether it’s a dormitory or a rented flat, you meet them at welcome meetings at your university or simply at an ESN event. Those people, people coming from all possible places in the world, will become your family for the next few months. You will make friendships you’ve never dreamed of having, you’ll have a crush or two and you might even fall in love. Actually, one of my friends got engaged some time ago to a guy she met during her Erasmus+ exchange. If that doesn’t convince you that Erasmus+ is the adventure of your lifetime, then I don’t know what does!
To sum up all those experiences in one word, I would say that Erasmus+ is bravery. It takes a lot of courage to step out of your comfort zone and to go to an unknown place, sometimes to a place where they speak a language you don’t know. It takes a lot of guts to come up to someone and start talking while trying to stay cool and pretending you’re not secretly wishing they won’t find you creepy and will want to meet again at an ESN pub quiz. You need to be brave not to start crying like a baby at the end of your stay when that person is already your best friend and you cannot imagine your life back in your country without her. But at that point, it becomes easier to make plans to visit each other.
Because life is not meant to be lived in one place. You’ve got more than one home now. You’ve become a travel addict anyway so that’s even better. Mobility is a lifestyle.
And this is why you should participate in the Erasmus+ exchange!