If I Hadn't Been on Erasmus…
"When I compare myself to who I was two years ago, I don't recognise myself. I’ve accomplished so much, and I breathe the air knowing that NOBODY CAN STOP ME".
Maybe you have been walking your college hallways and noticed a paper with big Erasmus+ letters written on it, or you scrolled past someone's photograph with a description „Erasmus moments“, or something similar. And maybe, a certain thought crossed your mind. A thought – „Should I apply and go?“, immediately silenced by a fear of living abroad, leaving your friends and family, or just another thought „it's not for me“. Now, imagine if you listened to those thoughts. Imagine if you weren't strong enough to tell yourself 'heck it' and pack your bags and leave. What would your life look like?
We took some time to find 3 people who have been on an exchange to ask them one simple question – if you hadn’t been on Erasmus, who would you be? Who would be the person that one, two, three years ago didn't find the courage to take off? Where would they be, what would they do, and how happy would they feel?
If I hadn’t gone on Erasmus, I would have stayed the same basic person. I would be thinking about finishing my studies, finding a proper job in Egypt, getting my own house and maybe getting married... This was my basic idea. But after I went on an exchange, I experienced different cultures, the doors opened to the whole world – now I'm thinking GLOBALLY. I am a global citizen now and I know that there are opportunities for me outside of Egypt, and I'm thinking about finding a job in Europe and starting a new life. I became more grown-up and mature because it changed the way I thought about everything, my mindset. It changed my personality, it opened a new part inside of me, the global part. It made me think about building myself more because there is more waiting for me outside.
I am a guy who was raised in a strict family. My father used to be a mufti (an Islamic scholar who interprets and expounds Islamic law). And if you are a son of a religious man, you will be a disgrace if you party, drink alcohol or have a girlfriend or boyfriend – those are the worst things you can do. This creates a big mechanism of lies, hiding, fear, and general unrest because of your family's disapproval, and I lived this life in Izmir.
On the other hand, I always wanted to change things in a better way. The pressure from my father made me want to oppose this way of thinking and have an open mind because I believed the best is on its way. After all that pressure, I felt so free on Erasmus. I was finally living a life that I wanted to live. The main thing for me was that I was being myself. I was not the same guy that was on Erasmus as the one that was in Turkey.
Erasmus made me see another world that is different from Turkey. I realised who I truly am, it proved to me what I have always believed in - your nationality doesn’t matter but the person you are inside.
When I look at myself two years ago, I don't see the same person at all. I think about this depressed, unhappy, unrestful person who wanted something more but didn’t know how to get it and wasn’t aware that the path that would change her life completely was just a few mouse clicks and a few papers away.
I was spending my days back then with friends who turned out to be garbage and toxic, holding me back without me knowing it, and a boyfriend for whom I would have done everything for and always made myself second best to him. If I hadn’t gone on Erasmus, I would be like them now. I would have stayed in my country, living my ordinary day-to-day life with mediocre people from the same circles, with the same lifestyles, worries, and goals.
And this little act of applying for and going on an exchange has changed me from the core. I am a much better, mature, BRAVE person, who is hardworking and unstoppable. When I compare myself now to the person I was 2 years ago, I don't recognise myself. I’ve accomplished so much in my career, and I breathe the air knowing that NOBODY CAN STOP ME. And this air is amazing.
We guess you can see the pattern. Just small steps are needed to start shaping your life the way you want to. Remember that you don't have to stay where you are if that mindset, those restrictions, those people, the ground there stop you from growing.
All that is needed is to take a deep breath, close your eyes for a moment, and think of a person you would like to be. And start shaping your future the way you want it.
How have you changed after Erasmus? Can you imagine how your life would look like if you had chosen not to go? Share your story with us!
Representing the colours of the Erasmus Generation