The beginning of the end
By now, you might be aware of the “Post-Erasmus Depression”, but what about when it hits you sooner? Like one month before your Erasmus is over. That is what this story is about.
I was still doing my Erasmus when, around one month before I had to leave, it hit me that this wasn’t going to be my life forever, that I had to go back and, somehow, know exactly what to do and how to act. After living in a city for some time, you start to develop little habits, from cooking dinner with the sound of your neighbour's television to weekly lunches at the same restaurant with the same group of friends or going to the same coffee shop after every class. My habits were very food-related. Once I started feeling that the end of my Erasmus was near, I felt desperate and started crying every time I saw my friends. Post-Erasmus depression was starting to hit me, even though I hadn’t left yet.
What can you do when you realise that it’s going to end?
- Don’t panic. It’s normal to panic, but don’t do it.
- Don’t cry. At least not now. Save your tears for later.
- Enjoy every single moment you have left, from your friends to attending classes to eating food. Enjoy it. It’s never going to be the same. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Something that helped me cope with this feeling was writing. I started to journal about how the city felt and how the experience had impacted me. A mental photograph like only my own words could describe it so that I could read them to myself later.
As exams ended, my friends and I started to plan when we were going to leave and had more time to be with each other. Planning to keep in touch with my friends was a big mood booster. I knew I wasn’t the only one feeling the way I felt and if I needed to share something related to leaving, who else to share it with but those that had been with me for six months?
Sooner or later, we all have to say goodbye. We all have to pack our bags again, empty out our rooms, say our last goodbye to that teacher that was really cool, to that monument that started as a photograph on a screen and became a meeting point, to that neighbour that struggled to talk to you because of the language barrier but tried nonetheless, to the dogs that you would try to pet every day, to the friends that made you a brand new person.
I chose not to be the first one to go from my little group. I saw someone go and someone saw me go. We decided to keep in touch, to meet up whenever we could, to stay in each other's lives. Trust me, it’s very hard to do this and nothing will ever be as it was. But whenever I get to be with any of them, not only do I cry like a little baby, but I am also filled with pride and joy because these humans grew up with me, even if only a little bit. No one will ever take away our memories together - that will never change. And remember: being sad just means you were happy before.