Do you know this feeling of dullness when every new day is exactly the same as the previous one – you just wake up in the morning, go to classes or work (or both), go back home and feel too tired, or too indifferent to do anything creative?
On one hand you want to go out to a pub with your friends, but on the other you know that most probably you will end up complaining over a bottle of beer how miserable your lives are, and staying at home feels just a lot cheaper (8 zloty for a pint?!). You no longer know if it’s you who has stuck in some kind of a loop called Adult Life, or maybe it’s just the Polish weather that makes you feel like this.
You see posters advertising Erasmus programme and think that you are too old to get involved. You complain about tipsy Spanish and Portuguese students in night buses and state that you would never act so careless and immature. You wish you could travel all over Europe but you claim that you have other expenses. Excuses, excuses, excuses! Some time ago I was just like that. And I was wrong.
It’s time to face the truth – you’re just afraid. I was afraid too, I applied for Erasmus programme in 2011 but panicked and gave up. I made a second attempt and spent 4,5 amazing months in Spain, and I don’t regret my decision at all. Here’s my personal list of 5 main reasons why anyone should get out of his/hers comfort zone and take part in Erasmus exchange:
- People – during your exchange you will be able to meet people from all over the world, of different backgrounds and cultures. It gives you the opportunity to broaden your horizons, practice foreign languages (or get help with some administrative stuff if they speak the local language and you don’t) and try foreign cuisine (ah, those international dinners…). But also your friends will become a second family to you. It is usually the case that Erasmus students do not interact with the locals and they create their own community: they study, party, travel and do hundreds of different things together.
- Travels – ESN or the host university usually organizes trips for Erasmus students, some of them are free of charge. But it is also a good idea to travel on your own: rent a car, find cheap flights, use couchsurfing, possibilities are endless.
- Party – one of the mottos of ESN is “Study hard, party harder”. Only during Erasmus I found out that during a 3-day trip to Barcelona one needs only 6 hours of sleep in total. And if you’re going to Spain, remember that parties don’t start earlier than after midnight.
- Studies – the main reason to create the Erasmus programme was to enable students to get the opportunity to study abroad, get to know foreign universities, develop their academic interests, etc. So remember, it’s not only about parties, there are exams too. But still, there are more parties than exams!
- Experience – without a doubt Erasmus exchange can teach you a lot: what is it like to live abroad, how to cope with different systems (healthcare, housing, studying, banking, etc.), how to live without your favourite food, but most of all it teaches you how to enjoy your life and find pleasure even in the simplest things.
If you’re still hesitating remember that it’s your last chance. Even if it’s your last year at the university, there’s a new programme for graduates called Erasmus+
Would you like to apply?