Erasmus+ program: why should you take the plunge?
What is the Erasmus+ program?
The program offers several possibilities for students (and teachers) to study at a foreign university, to carry out research, to go abroad for an apprenticeship, or as a volunteer. I guess it’s not even a question that you can benefit a lot from such an experience, and now, I would like to prove this with my personal story.
I spent the last semester in South France after winning an Erasmus+ scholarship. I can list the usual arguments, why I decided to take the plunge and go on the big adventure: to practice foreign languages, to discover new cultures, to make international friendships, to be more independent, and of course, participation in such a programme is a “plus point” when I have to get my first job. However, besides these things, the semester that I spent abroad held many more surprises.
What else did I get from the Erasmus+ program?
First of all, I realized that I am capable of a lot more, than I thought. Actually, I realized this when I had to deal with the simplest issues. Getting along in a new environment? No problem! Dealing with administration in a foreign country? Not a big deal! Completing the courses that are “invented” for French students? Great challenge! Organizing a weekend trip? Good fun! Sometimes living with stress and ignoring the problems? It’s fine!
Besides these everyday issues, the university also held some surprises. I learned a lot from my teachers, who welcomed us, foreign students, warmly and helpfully. Thanks to them, I made a lot of progress professionally. I also got to know new teaching methods, and I had the chance to arrange my timetable and involve several interesting courses. During the classes, I improved my language skills as well, but that’s probably thanks to my classmates and friends, with whom I chatted for a few minutes or had a deep talk lasting for hours.
Who I am?
Thanks to the time that I spent abroad, my answer to the question Who I am? got more complex. I remember that a few years ago, I had to define my identity with 5-6 words at a language class. Student, woman, religious, hobby athlete, future writer… These words came to my mind, but I didn’t think of mentioning that I am Hungarian. However, in the international community, I got used to saying my nationality before my name, when I met a new person.
Indeed, each of us came from a different homeland, but we were not that disparate. Our goals, our dreams, and our difficulties were the same. That’s why I added another word to my imaginary list that defines me: I am European. It wasn’t important in which language we were talking; we were equal. For example, this was the case with the Italian class I took; the teacher was explaining the Italian grammar in French, while I said something to my friend in English, and all along, I was thinking in Hungarian: I was European.
All in all, the Erasmus+ program held some unexpected surprises for me. Everyone needs to experience this because there isn’t one general answer to the question “What you are going to get from an exchange?”. However, one thing is sure, it’s worth it! So if you are still hesitating, just make the decision and go, because you are going to see the world and yourself from a whole new perspective!