Here I am, being a complete waste of a human being, I moved to a city (which I didn’t know existed) and I didn’t even check anything about it on Google… not even its location within the UK. The first time I saw this city, was the first piece of information that I’ve ever got, and let me tell you… It wasn’t much (it was almost midnight… my bad), but it kept my excitement going for a while, so it was great!
This misinformation was my very first problem, as the hotel I had chosen to spend the night was way too far from the city center (where my flat was, but I didn’t have the key). My Erasmus experience starting off with the right foot *sarcasm*, even though, this didn’t let me down, I had high spirits for this year!
You know that thing people say… the one about Erasmus students never doing anything and living la vida loca? well, that’s not quite true. The first week I got there was one of the most stressful weeks of my life, you had to handle a lot of paperwork and present documents to your department, go to meetings, make sure you didn’t forget any stamps or anything… and trying to get your scholarship before the beginning of the semester… to eat and that kind of vital stuff – I know you feel the same about this. But at the same time, this week was supposed to be the legendary “welcome week“.
WELCOME WEEK: that crazy first week of term that is dedicated to those beautiful souls that are entering to their worst nightmare and they won’t even know what hit them, even though it’s going to happen the following week… THAT WEEK.
This week, for freshers is the best thing ever created, but for Erasmus students… not so much. If you are in third/fourth year you are old enough to know how bad these parties are and how 18 yrs olds are like, you know better. Or that’s what you thought the first time you heard about this week, either way, you’re fucked. Why? you might think. Let this soul tell you why…
You have meetings with professors. Also, you need to meet someone -for the sake of not remaining alone for the rest of the year, and believe me, you don’t want to make friends only with a bunch of freshers or people from your same country (many people do this, but I wouldn’t recommend it, I didn’t do it because I find it stupid, I’m sorry, you got out of your comfort zone just to jump into another one? No, thanks.)
Problems with freshers: they are freshers, this is self-explanatory (we’ve all been there).
Problems with same-country pals: you never stop speaking in your L1, this leads to two main problems. The first one, you never practice the language of the host country (why did you move then?) and the second one, you’ll find it more difficult to meet people from other nationalities as you are going to be absorbed by this bubble full of “home” (you won’t stop talking in your L1 and other foreigners, who don’t understand you, will find it more difficult to approach you).
All problems solved, I’ll continue with the main story:
I felt like a ninja trying to avoid people that spoke the same language as me (I know it’s difficult to avoid your roots and start talking non-stop about how shitty is something in your country compared to “here” or the other way around). I went to a “welcome meeting” and, met someone (duh, E!): a Thai girl that happened to be a fresher (surprise!), she reminded me so much of myself from two years ago, it was creepy (thank God I’ve changed). She lived in the same building as me! It was great, now I didn’t have to walk everyday alone to Uni.
I liked her a lot, she didn’t like me so much.
We stopped hanging out after this first week. We still saw each other in the elevator (it was weird to say the least). She was “completely focused on her career” and didn’t have time to waste (a.k.a “go **** yourself, cheers :D”). The shortest human interaction in history.
Well, during this term I decided to make friends! and I was completely determined to do so (the “friends” didn’t want me back, oh well). This is the worst part of an exchange, you don’t know anyone, the pressure of being alone in a different country, you don’t speak the language, people were different, some of them were already in little groups locked under padlock (this kind of “exclusive” groups that make you feel an intruder, that’s what I’m talking about).
But, hey! you’ve made it this far, you cannot call home and say “I wanna go back!”, that’s not how it goes, you have to keep that façade of yours, you are a happy b**** living the dream!, of course. LET ME FRIGGING TELL YOU SOMETHING, IF YOU FEEL LIKE GOING BACK, GO BACK, IF YOU FEEL THAT YOU DON’T LIKE IT, DON’T FAKE IT. IF YOU ARE FEELING DEPRESSED THERE ARE MANY PEOPLE WILLING TO HELP YOU THROUGH IT. YOU ARE NOT ALONE! (Again, the emergency button it’s at the end of the post!).
These “isolation weeks” as I like to call them, are what teach you the most important things about yourself, if you can make it on your own or you are not ready, yet. You don’t have to feel embarrassed for it, we all live life in a different pace. If you are able to get through these days, I assure you, you’ll love it.
I am that kind of people who enjoys being alone and hates the bullshit, so it was fine for me (I sometimes felt lonely, but I enjoy spending time by myself). If you are someone who suffers from depression I would completely reccommend you to talk to your doctor or to whoever you talk to before going abroad and, whenever you feel down, write to them or to your family. They are a great support, your friends, too. No one wants to see you feeling down when you were supposed to be experiencing life and enjoying it, and you don’t have to feel bad because you are not there yet (believe me, you will).
Side info: I had some friends that suffered from depression and went on an Erasmus exchange and they had some rough times, but they got through it (I, among other people, was there to help out and you’ll find someone to help you out, too. Maybe it isn’t a close friend, maybe it was a friend’s friend or not even that, and you gained a beautiful relationship with someone, you’ll never know, this is what this experience brings you, what brought me, closeness).
I was down, I wasn’t having the “dream” I was having the “I don’t know anyone that could potentially become my friend and it’s almost December, thank you life” kind of face. But, some of my friends and acquaintances drew closer and that is something I appreaciate a lot, I gained a lot from that, thank you Erasmus.
Now, it was December, I didn’t know anyone I liked, I didn’t join any society and that was the easiest way to meet people at my particular uni, I know there are some sort of “erasmus societies” – they never did anything of my interest, so I didn’t bother. I just wanted to go home, cuddle with my dog and forget about this experience.
As I was recalling all the shitty feelings and the fact that I didn’t know anyone, I remembered that I loved every little trip I made during this semester. I didn’t waste my money on stupid parties, or alcohol, every time I felt lonely I took the road, and that was the best decision I’ve ever made (Thank you, old me). I learned so much, did so many stupid things, met weirdos and felt good. It was me, myself and I, and I couldn’t be happier (I know, you might be thinking “I couldn’t travel alone… that’s crazy”, let me tell you this: you won’t regret it, NEVER).
YOU ARE NOT WAITING FOR ANYONE. YOU CAN GO ANYWHERE. AT YOUR OWN PACE, WHATEVER YOU WANNA DO. MAKE PEACE WITH YOURSELF, YOU STUPID (hehe, I love you).
All in all, this semester taught me these seven things:
- You are ok on your own.
- It’s ok to feel down sometime,
- but you have to remember, there is people out there who love you and want to hear from you, THE REAL YOU, not the fake you, the “good” you.
- TRAVEL! alone, in company, whatever, just do it.
- Never wait for someone to do something. DO IT YOURSELF.
- You’ll strenghten up some friendships and lose some others, that was bound to happen anyways.
- THIS IS YOUR LIFE, YOU ARE IMPORTANT.
Note: I’ll continue with my second semester on the next post! keep updated (If you wanna).
-Do you really need another souvenir?