Before I went for my study year abroad or so called ‘’Erasmus’’ year, I had those mixed emotions: impatience, excitement, nervousness, fear and hope. As I did not plan it in advance I just let myself ‘go with the flow’. Although I hadn’t spoken to a lot of people with same experience, I knew from some friends of mine what I am involving myself into. I wasn’t given a lot of advice, but I preferred to let myself surprised simply because I love adventures and unpredictable things. After many conversations with my parents, who were visibly even more worried and excited about my upcoming experience I decided to, at least check few Facebook pages and groups about housing and any advice given.
This blog post is not just a random and general writing. I believe it is crucial to be aware of every aspect of this year experience and be advised on how you can avoid unpleasant situations and simply enjoy probably the best year in your life. Here’s what I’ve learned about the study abroad experience and some useful tips:
1. Don’t overreact in advance!
When my friends were told that I am leaving for Spain for a year, you can imagine the reaction. Everyone was super jealous and couldn’t stop saying ‘’oh, I wish I was on your place now!, Oh, lucky you that’s the best country ever!, Oh, YOU lucky girl, sun all day long, parties 24/7, what else you can ask for?!..’’, and many other. Of course, the first image which comes to everyone’s mind when they hear Spain, Erasmus, whole year, would be party all night and beach time every day. My point is, just don’t be too excited and manage your expectations. We all are aware of the well-known cliché ‘’no expectations, no disappointments’’, so just hope for the best but be prepared for pitfalls!
Also, another important thing is not to compare your own experience with your friends’. Everyone has different view of having fun and being adventurous so what I learned is to do everything on my own way and enjoy my own adventure.
2. It may not be the way you have planned it, but it will be worth for sure!
I always advice people not to plan such an experience. Something that doesn’t depend on us, shouldn’t be planned. The best things come surprisingly, in the most unexpected moment when we haven’t planned in this way. So, just let the time works for you and the destiny will find its way. When I arrived in Spain, I thought I am all alone and I won’t have anyone on my side. Then as soon as I found an accommodation and started going out I met one of the most wonderful people in my life. At this point of the time I have the confidence to say that thankful to this Study abroad year I had the opportunity to meet and know people I haven’t even been thinking I would know.
I went out of my comfort zone and immersed myself into the culture, language and weather of this amazing piece of heaven, Spain. I got used to love paella, all kind of tapas, calamari and all the delicious pastries. Here I can say that the reality went over my expectations. That’s why I insist on ‘going with the flow’ and not to push yourself or to have some unrealistic ideas of the place you are going to. Believe me, I am more than satisfied that I haven’t been expected that much, so now I can be even happier and amazed of everything around me.
3. Life –changing experience
If you just take this opportunity and the whole year as a granted and you just sit and wait for the experience to ‘come’, you will be wasted. That’s not how it works! DEFINITELY!
Try to get the most of this year and keep develop yourself. Don’t hesitate to ask for tips, to ask for more information, to be curious and interested. It’s how it’s supposed to be, you are in different country, you are tourist, you are student, you are human being! From what I learned, I can say that this experience for me was a life-changing. I experienced so many things, I visited so interesting places and I went through so many different states of mind and emotions. Of course not everything is pink and bright. Sometimes you might hate it, sometimes you may miss your friends your country your family but just don’t forget that everything is temporary and take the positivism from the situation! Just think about it! When is going to be the next time you will be able to explore another culture and country and being able to both study and enjoying the sunny beaches, lively cities, rich history, different nations or even another continent? And meanwhile being paid for this! Think about it and make the most of it!
4. DON’T ‘broke’ yourself!
Everyone knows that being Erasmus has the luckiest part- being paid for your experience. I know how hard is to be provided with a wad of money and not waste them all in the next few seconds. But before you do that, please think about what you would like to spend these money for. I suggest to invest in travelling around the country you are in and to visit as many places as possible! DON’T WASTE YOUR MONEY for unvalued things!
And last but not least, don’t forget to take something for yourself from the country! Make sure you will leave the country with nice memories and something in the hands which will remind you for the unforgettable year!