Author: Roberto Luciani
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Date of Publication: 20/10/2022
“Imagine you said yes to go on Erasmus because the opportunity was there and you took it. You are going to be away from your country for almost a year, and you are finally living what many people call a dream. Now it is your time! You arrive at your chosen place and, out of a sudden you realize that the English you speak isn’t enough. And to make matters worse, you don’t even know a word of the spoken language of your host country. However, the people you know don’t seem to have the same fears as you. Actually, they move around without thinking too much, like sharks in a sea in which you are a little fish”. This is more or less what I experienced at the beginning of my Erasmus.
I left Italy to go to Thessaloniki, in Greece, in October 2021. To be honest, I had no idea of the impact it would have on me. I used to hear the laughter of roommates and find myself stuck to my inability to participate. Not understanding the language means not knowing what they are laughing about. Meanwhile, the brain is bombarded with new information. You must adapt to the new city. For example, you should find your place at the university, talk to professors, and get organized. Also, you have to figure out which buses you need, find the cheapest supermarkets and the roads that are perhaps best to avoid.
How do you survive in such a situation? How is it possible that such an experience can in a short time become one of the best experiences of an entire life? Let's essence the situation together to see what some of the basic steps are to turn the dream into reality.
- Learn the language.
Knowing how to communicate is one of the easiest ways to connect with others. To do this, it is necessary to try not only to hang out with people from your own country, but especially with those who are far away from us. There are many lessons and tests online and on Youtube, which can go along with speaking and listening practice with friends every day.
- Let yourself go.
It is natural to feel a sense of bewilderment, but in Erasmus you are all in the same situation. You only have to look around to find that everyone is looking for what you are looking for: friends, comfort, warmth.
Trust not only the people, but also the place. Trust goes hand in hand with letting go and is the moment when you accept that the new place could become a second home. But trusting what? Trusting new friendships, trusting the experience itself, believing in it even on those days when everything seems to be going wrong.
The Erasmus experience is not only important because you get to know a lot of people, learn languages and how to live away from your family. The beauty also lies in the opportunity, more unique than rare, to visit a previously unknown country, now at your disposal. Organizing cheap trips with friends to neighboring cities is one of the fastest ways to make beautiful friendships and enrich yourself personally at the same time.
Many more could be the tips and strategies that can make the best living abroad, but they all, for sure, lead back to what is the first step. In fact, without it nothing would be the case: leaving. Finding the courage, that is also similar to madness, to leave because it needs to be done. At the end of such an experience you will feel much freer to be yourself. The world will appear bigger but also more accessible. Friendship and curiosity will lead and accompany you on the most beautiful journey of all.