A few years have passed by, but I always giggle inside when I think about that young girl on the plane, with a lot of hopes and fears who was going to study abroad, far away from home. Little could she imagine a new one was waiting for her, as she opened her heart for connection. We all leave parts of our soul in places, late night talks and people we cross our roads through life with, so many times just once …
ERASMUS for me was life summarized in 1 year, an experience you cannot simulate otherwise, that helps you grow in ways you could never imagine. The story is long, the experience is powerful, so I will focus on 9 secrets/ advices for the brave ones who dare to try this irreversible change:
1. You will have doubts, right from the start. You will miss the comfort of your friends and family, your favorite places and a mixed feeling of anxiety and desire to explore will take over you. You will learn from the start that only by taking a risk, you can enjoy the adventure of your life!
2. I hope you will choose a smaller city with a great university and awesome landscape! This is how you will bump into other local students in the best pubs more often and you will have the chance to make connections and travel together. For me, Oviedo (el paraiso natural de Asturias) was magic- clean, safe, smart with amazing beaches and mountains to explore on the weekends!
3. The cultural shock will last 2 or 3 months after your arrival with this feeling of misfit, but the biggest one is the reversed shock, when you come back home. You will understand how much of your identity was given by your culture, your environment and the people next to you. It will be a little scary to rip off a constructed self and build a new one. This is made through genuine connections with people so different from you, that unveil many of your true colors. You will sculpt your core out!
4. In the beginning all these strangers and their ways may feel overwhelming. As time passes by, you realize that you were the stranger from the start and you stopped being one when you made the effort to be more than a tourist. It is unexpected how fast we get familiar with a totally new life when we are forced by circumstances to adapt, when we dive in the challenge! Your international roommates become a family and the heart to heart talks will be cherished for life!
5. Studying in another language is like highlighting your knowledge- you will never read a page twice because you were daydreaming! The effort of understanding makes you present, learning to filter and organize ideas. You will be a faster learner after this effort! Studying with your international colleagues and taking your exams is a boost for your confidence. You will realize the power of your education from back home and the opportunity to enjoy a bigger picture of your chosen field! The connections you will make are there to stay for life and you will be dancing on the worldwide rhythm of student life!
6. Discovering different styles of teaching, learning, interacting with patients is a real blessing! It will enable you to make a clearer progress with your own personal and professional growth and develop an out of the box approach to life!
7. Oh… darling, you will fall in love! What can I say, the odds favor it as there are so many young, smart and spicy people in the same Erasmus challenge! The trips, the parties, the food, the guitar nights, jokes… don’t miss any and enjoy the effervescence of diversity! It is seductive to get lost in translation!
8. The most precious lesson is the joy of discovering humanity in all its forms and shapes with the price of vulnerability! There are thousands of shared stories that will be secrets to giggle about, here I left only mi bandera de Asturias- pictures with some of the amazing adventurers who dared to experience ERASMUS. I came home with two new foreign languages, drawings, amazing medical experience at HUCA, rap music, cooking and dancing skills, love for Oncology, a great birthday party, San Mateo, sand, ocean and friends. We have a limited time to experience together and we should all try to make the best of it! Write your own story and take every opportunity to grow as a student!
9. Dare to experience ERASMUS! It will make you a smarter, braver, adaptable, international storyteller! It will influence and expand the way you see/ search opportunities and take decisions/ risks for the rest of your life. You will no longer miss experiences, but long for the new adventures that lie ahead!
I’m sending a hug from Cluj to all the amazing people I’ve met, Cri. :*