Exchange is not a year in your life, it’s a life in a year.
Do you have a low tolerant stomach for alcohol? Do you feel that you hate being with people from times to times? Do you like to have an organised daily life and make plans? Are you getting tired of clubbing and dancing and you enjoy the company of your bed? Are you a very good student in purchase of the best grades in class? And last but not least…. do you enjoying taking risks that probably will lead you to the most amazing experiences of your life? If you answers are NO, so then my friend, you better skip that article. Erasmus programme is not for you!
It was about three years ago, when I took the great decision to go study and live abroad, during the spring semester of my university. Of course, the most certain way to have the best possible experience is through the Erasmus+ programme, an exchange programme that runs for many years and has given unforgettable experiences to million of students. So, these are my tips and hacks coming up from my personal experience and how I saw those five months through my own eyes.
- You’re gonna drink a lot. Even if you are a light drinker or a heavy drinker in your normal life, that’s a fact. Get ready to live the most drunk nights of your life, the biggest hangovers of your next mornings, be ready to kiss that not so cute guy/girl, dance all night and lose some things-phones,shoes,shirts, even pants. It’s gonna happen and you just have to accept it.
- You’re going to meet many different people. Even if you are an introvert and you feel awkward around social situations, it’s impossible to not make new friends, new meetings, new circles. All the international students are going around the same places, are doing the same things and follow the same rules, so we keep close to each other, protect each other, speak to each other-and trust me there is always someone who knows your name even if you don’t know them, especially if you are a party animal and go around a lot *cough cough* – proud ex party animal talking.
- Get ready to laugh a lot. I mean a lot a lot. You re going to laugh with yourself and the humiliating things you did the previous night, you will laugh with your drunk friends who will definitely regret some things they are doing being drunk, you will laugh with the guy who is getting high for the first time, you will laugh with old stories of your friends from their normal life back home- you re gonna laugh a lot and it’s gonna be pure, honest,all from your heart. ‘Cause you re living one of the most happy days of your life.
- And of course you will cry a lot. You will cry because you are too much drunk, you will cry because your best friend there is drunk and they remember of this bad ex, you will cry cause you don’t want to leave, you will cry because you don’t want to say goodbye to all these beautiful people you met through this journey- If you are not a goodbye person, this is gonna be very difficult for you.
- For five months you will never eat normal. You will eat junk food, you will eat strange but nice food, you will taste strange but not so nice food, you will find yourself not eating nothing for two days and then eating at 5am. Don’t worry, it’s normal. No one will accuse you for not taking care of yourself. It’s that period of your life that you are absolutely free to do whatever you want- without hurting yourself of course- with no guilt.
- As you understand, it’s almost the same with the sleep. Sleeping times are a mess but good thing comes up: you will learn to sleep everywhere. I mean EVERYWHERE.
- Maybe you will fail some exams. Maybe! But that’s not so bad. You would have gain so much in return that these things don’t mean too much. Of course, that’s not a rule. If you can combine fun and study together, you are awesome. We need more like you to teach us how to do so.
- The most important rule of this experience: say YES to anything new. Anything new that can lift your spirit up, anything that can make your blood rush, your heart beat faster, set your mind free, boarden up your horizons. Say yes to new experiences that can make you live better, think better, feel better. New things that make you a better person. Things that you can’t wait to say to your friends and your family when you come back from this long trip. Because no one came back home the same person as they left. Say yes to all the things that fill your heart and make you a great storyteller. But don’t forget, that you have to say No to the things that don’t feel right for you and can hurt you. It’s a beautiful world out there, full of beautiful people and unique experiences, but it will never stop being dangerous sometimes.
In any situation of your life, If you come across to this unique chance, just take it. It’s going to be difficult at start, you will maybe feel lost in the beginning, even scared at your first night all alone in a new place, stranger among strangers, but this is the kind of experience that it will help you grow, it will help you be a better person, it will give you a new aspect of the world. It’s this kind of experience that you will mention again and again to your friends, to your family, to the new people who will meet during your life, even to your children some day. And when all this experience come to the end, prepare yourself for a short depression period. Because you re gonna feel that parts of yourself are spread to all over the world- but that’s ok. Just try to make the most of it and don’t forget that you have some new friends around this planet that are waiting for you to live new adventures.