I found out about Erasmus from a film called L’auberge espagnole (translated as The Spanish Apartment) in the days of yore of my teens, when I had plenty of time to watch films all day long. The whole idea to study in a foreign country for a certain amount of time fascinated me back then, and I immediately jotted it down on my “bucket list”. When my university years arrived, I didn’t think twice and seized the opportunity.
One of the languages I’m studying is German and as I started learning it at university, I knew from the very beginning that I wanted to be fluent after I completed my bachelor’s diploma. I was aware that it wouldn’t be possible without spending at least some months in a German-speaking country, so for my Erasmus exchange I headed to Austria for a semester. When I came back home, I looked back at those four months spent there and realized it was the best thing I had done so far as a student, and a truly inspiring experience.
The reasons why the Erasmus exchange program is definitely worth your attention are numerous, but I’ve picked seven that in my opinion sum up the “Erasmus spirit” – I am sure many of those who’ve been Erasmus students themselves will know what I mean.
1. You get a taste of what studying abroad means.
After finishing school, many of you might have toyed with the idea of studying abroad. Indeed, this decision is big and so are your doubts and confusions; you are not really sure whether you want to take this important step or not. Studying abroad for a limited period of time as part of an Erasmus exchange shows you what all this means and you can find out afterwards if you want to do it for the long run.
2. You receive financial support.
Every Erasmus student receives a grant, with the amount depending on the home country and destination. Of course, students are told from the very beginning that this grant won’t cover all the expenses involved, but it is at any rate of great help. If you come from an Eastern European country as I do, this grant is pretty high and makes studying abroad an affordable experience.
3. You can learn a new language/ practice one you already know.
As I said, this was the main reason why I took part in an Erasmus exchange. And yes, I can say that I owe 60% of my German at this moment to my time studying abroad in Austria. What’s more, I have many friends who chose countries such as Lithuania, Poland, Turkey and Slovakia, and they were even offered free language courses at their host universities. We are all aware that knowing a less-spoken language is definitely an asset nowadays. And no matter what language (or languages) you use during your Erasmus exchange, there is no doubt you will improve your communication skills in a foreign language.
4. You get inspired and motivated.
There are many students who feel that they have lost their motivation at a certain point in their student life. I am pretty sure that this has happened to most of us. Well, an Erasmus semester (or year) is beyond doubt a huge source of inspiration for your future plans and maybe a real turning point for your future career. Taking a break and stepping off the beaten track of your home town and home university might be the best solution to this problem.
5. You become more responsible.
Many students study in their home towns and therefore are still living with parents or other relatives. Studying abroad offers you the chance to see what it means to manage those chores that a responsible adult deals with every day. Afterwards you become more independent, especially because you have to do all that in a foreign environment and deal with different people and mentalities. When you come back home everything will be a piece of cake.
6. You make friends from all over the world.
Friendship is something universal in human nature, regardless of language, culture, religion or ethnicity. It’s a wonderful thing to know you have friends beyond the borders of your country, who you can always visit or come to visit you, with whom you will always have a lot to share even though you don’t see each other every day.
7. You travel further afield.
This one is pretty straightforward. Once you are already studying abroad for your exchange program, travelling becomes a part of everyday life. After all, it would be such a pity not to set money aside and go visit some neighboring countries or explore everything your host country has to offer.
And if you are still not convinced, simply reflect that no Erasmus student comes back home disappointed or regretting this decision.