It is said that living abroad broads your horizons, make you more experienced, teaches you to be more independent. However, to some people, it can bring even more. And I am one of them
I’ve been thinking about my 6month experience in Spain even before I left. When I arrived I kept searching for something that had changed. To my surprise the answer is nothing. However, the one who has changed is me. (Sorry for the cliché.)
Personally, living in Spain was my fulfilled dream. Spain was the only country where I wanted to spend my studying abroad. It is hard to explain why since there is no particular reason. It may be the language, it may be the character of people or just my weakness for countries surrounded by the sea.
However, living abroad, in a country where no one understands my mother tongue, in a place where I was surrounded by people from around the world, with so much time to travel and explore wherever I want…yes, this is the life!
When you mention the Erasmus programme, many people tell you immediately that is just one semester full of parties and slacking around. I won’t lie to you, parties are part of the experience. But for me personally, it was much more.
Firstly, Erasmus has shown me that surviving in a country when you don’t know the language perfectly is possible. Only once it happened that someone corrected my poor Spanish in a mean way. After few weeks I was not shy anymore to speak in Spanish even though it was not so perfect as I had imagined.
Secondly, Erasmus has opened my eyes. Before I thought that my eyes had been opened enough when I had been thinking of my experience but I had not been right.
Erasmus has given more self-confidence. It has proved me I am worth it. The truth is I did not believe in myself. I kept underestimating myself. But during half a year in Spain, I have realized I am capable of things including living abroad alone, without my family and my close friends. Nevertheless, it took some time and one my special friend helped me a lot to see it.
Erasmus has given me strength. Strenght to fight over my opinions, to show my qualities. I am more assured, positive and relaxed.
Erasmus has taught me “not giving a f*ck”. I am sorry for my language but I couldn’t express it better. Before I have concerned a lot what people think of me, I spend hours and hours of thinking “what if”. Nowadays I can realize that there is no point crying over some things or replaying again and again in your head what would happen if you do it this way. I am able to say to myself that what is gone is gone and I cannot change it and I should focus on the present and not try to change the past.
Furthermore, Erasmus has given me so many experiences that I even kept a diary not to forget anything. I have to admit that I survived many hangovers after partying all night long, however, I experienced countless trips, so many funny moments not only during classes which only people who were there understand.
Erasmus has put a smile on my face. It is known that the Czech is cold and does not smile. After spending half a year in a country where personal space hardly exists and people greet themselves with two kisses on cheeks, it has to have an influence on you. Not only this but overall I taught how to enjoy my life and I can find a reason to smile almost all the time. So right now it is normal I smile at people at streets or just while I sit in a tram. I am even nice to people who are grumpy and mean.
Erasmus has taught me to be more open-minded, social and friendlier. It is not a problem anymore to speak to strangers, to use BlaBlaCar without thinking of topics I should talk about, to enter a room full of people I see for the first time.
Erasmus has given me stability. Stability to pass days which are not perfect, stability to solve problems without breaking down.
Erasmus has taught me stress resistibility.
Thanks to Erasmus I met many amazing people who are my friends but some of them I call my international family. I may not talk to them every day but I know when we cross our paths together anywhere in the world we would remember and make new adventures together.
Erasmus has also shown me that sometimes it is good to be selfish, to think more about myself and do things only for my own happiness.
I have to say that Erasmus or other exchanges are not mainly about studying. (Or it depends.) Not even about parties. It is a life adventure about getting know people from around the world, about everlasting friendships, breaking stereotypes and neverending experiences in a short period of time. Most importantly it is about getting know yourself, your capabilities, and limits. You can lose some things, even relationships, on the other hand, you gain much more.
Everyone is searching for words how to describe Erasmus. I would say it is one big rollercoaster. You are up and down, feel super excited, sometimes sad, you miss your home, friends or your favourite food made by mum but generally, you are having the best time of your life.