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I was 12 years old and I didn´t know that, ten years later, that opportunity would arrive as an Erasmus scholarship to Genova on my last year at the University.
I was finishing my studies in my University in Madrid (Spain) and I decided to ask for Erasmus vacancy to go to Genova, in Italy. I decided to apply for the Erasmus Program in order to try to live for a few months outside my hometown, studying in another language and get to know another culture. Just to try. Since the first week I arrived there, I realised that this year would nothing to do with the rest of my academic life, and finally I decided to stay there for the whole year.
I think there is a stereotype with Erasmus program in general, and with Erasmus in Italy in particular that we can explain in three words: party, party and party. I would like to highlight that in my case, wasn´t like this. Of course I went out and had fun, but for me it was more than that.
Although it was little bit hard to find a place to live the first days, finally I found the best, I think: A dormitory in the same street with University, in where I found an amazing group of warm friends with whom, three years later, I continue to communicate every week on Facebook. There were people from different cultures, religions and countries: Not only Italy but Morocco, Croatia, Albania, Ethiopia, Croatia, Korea, Lithuania, Tunisia, Israel, Palestine or Brazil too! I was the only Spanish living there! And this was the best opportunity for me to learn the language, even though the first months, I couldn´t participate in the conversations around a tea table in the common kitchen, just listening...anyway, it was nice!
At the University everything was different too. The system had nothing to do with my University in Spain and it was such an interesting experience! I have studied journalism and audiovisual communication, and in my University in Madrid you must attend all lessons and do different works in group with the other students and your laptop, if you want to pass the exam! However, in the Faculty of Letters of the University in Genova you can decide to attend to the lessons in order to listen and take notes in your notebook, or not, and, in all the subjects that I chose, you have to buy a book to prepare the exam on your own...but if you decide not to attend lessons, then you had to study two books instead of one! And of course if the classroom full of people, doesn´t matter...you could sit down on the floor!
I studied hard that year, harder than in Spain, and firstly I had to use the Italian – Spanish dictionary all the time! But finally, I reached a high mark in the exams, higher than in Spain, and that was good for my academic average. Besides this, when I came back to Spain I passed the advanced certificate in Italian language...finally my childhood dream came true!
But not everything was about academic life. When I remember my Erasmus, I remember the international dinners, the crazy trips in the regional trains, the picnic on the beach, the evenings in the harbour watching the sea... I think walking around the narrow streets of Genova again and again, in the habit of meeting new people every day, and specially, in friends that became my family during that time. A time that for sure you will remember the rest of your life!
By Paula de la Torre