Erasmus – Expectations vs. Reality
If you think that your Erasmus is an amazing opportunity to visit all the places you have always dreamed about, then you are absolutely right.
If you have experienced it then you know what a wonderful, life-changing experience Erasmus can be. Many of us invest our time in convincing other people to go on this adventure and during our interaction with possible Erasmus students we hear a lot of mixed feedback. Even though every Erasmus is different, there are some common expectations, assumptions and myths most people have, so let’s talk about them!
Many of us move to another country with our feet already on fire. We start making travel plans before even settling into our new life in a foreign country. If you think that your Erasmus is an amazing opportunity to visit all the places you have always dreamed about, then you are absolutely right. Erasmus students are young hobbits hungry for adventures and their weekends are reserved for exploring new places they have discovered on Google Maps. Find a cheap ride, pack your essentials, book the last room in the nearest hostel ― all of that two days before your trip ― and off you go! If not now, when?
Even though you are on Erasmus, you still live in the real world where things cost money, especially travelling. So like every other responsible adult you set your priorities straight and make a financial plan you swear you will keep up with. Spoiler ― you will not keep up with it. If you go to a country that has a different currency to yours, money will turn into a fictional concept for the first few weeks. You will not know how much money you are spending on what and if that amount of money is reasonable. And once your brain finally starts converting money properly, it will not matter. No one on Erasmus passes on a chance to have another beer or cup of coffee simply because their bank account is screaming ‘are you insane?’.
You are aware that you have to cut your costs somewhere though, so you decide to hit it where it hurts the least ― food. How hard can cooking on a daily basis be, right? Wrong! Food you buy in stores will never taste the same as it does back home ― yoghurt will be too creamy, cheese too greasy and bread too sweet. You will not have the time or the patience to stand for half an hour in front of a stove, waiting for your food to cook when the next adventure awaits you. Soon enough you will find your favourite (and affordable) kebab place and learn all about the phenomena called extra Erasmus weight.
You will manage to find a solution to all of your problems, and you will shed your Erasmus weight as soon as you come home and the post Erasmus depression hits, but finding a balance between academic and party life will be the hardest. A lot of people will tell you that Erasmus is one big party, and then a whole bunch of other people will tell you that you should not ignore the academic aspect. The truth is that, just like life, your Erasmus is what you make out of it. You can turn this period of your life into a 24/7 party or into a torturous academic quest. Or you can find a healthy balance and experience the best of both worlds. You can dance the nights away, and you can enjoy an educational system quite different from that of your home country by day. Erasmus might feel like you are living a completely different life, but you have not left the planet ― you know how the world works.
You will go on numerous adventures, experience new things and meet new people. Some names will disappear from your memory too soon, while some faces you will remember fondly forever. But always remember your Erasmus is about you, not about other people. Take long walks in the park, search for homemade ice cream, travel alone if you have to. Do not let your expectations remain better than your reality.