Erasmus changes your time perception, everything happens so quickly. Knowing you are there for just few months works as a catalyst, if it normally takes years to figure out who are your lifelong friends, it only takes moments during the exchange to make such bonds. And you bring this time perception home, you feel like every moment has to be cherished, every single day can and has to be extraordinary and it is in your power to be kind to the world, love it, and admire the diversity of people; this brings happiness to your daily life and that's all you need.
Currently I am spending a year studying abroad in South Korea. My main motivation to come here was to learn Korean language and bring back home the best experience from the country which I have adored for more than 10 years already.
Therefore, as an exchange student, especially European girl, I face some prejudice and stereotypes regardless of of how I act or which language I speak.
Often Koreans assume that foreigners (which is a definition to describe a westerner in most cases) naturally relate to one another and get really surprised when I explain that I prefer getting to know local people and learning about their language and culture instead of staying in my own "foreign bubble".
After spending my first semester here, I can see some tendencies and reasons behind such prejudice. Even though there are plenty of amazing and lovely people - both, foreigners and locals, who have become a really important part of my life, I also have an experience seeing too many arrogant people, who think they are better than everyone else, just because they come from a certain country or because of some other, not understandable reasons.
This also motivates me to rather stick to few genuine people, rather than be surrounded by bunch of party pals, who could not care less about you after saying goodbye. There is a tendency among international students to party together for one semester and forget about the existence of those people when they go home. Do we really need to do this? The world is small and we can make a lifetime friendship if we put at least a little bit of effort. Just let's not stick only to the people who share a nationality or same language with us. Let's get rid of stereotypes and prejudice for a moment. Only then we can grow as a human beings and live to the fullest.
Be open minded. Be humble. Enjoy your study abroad time to the fullest, because in the future you will remember it as the best years of your life.
The decision to go on Erasmus wasn’t spontaneous, because I have always wanted to live and study abroad, but just after high school I was afraid of something, so I stayed in Lithuania, but since the first year I knew that I’m going abroad someday.
So when the university opened the applications I already knew where I want to apply! As my first option I chose Brussels, don’t know why exactly, but it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made! The first one was to go on Erasmus, obviously. ^^
My studies abroad started in the end of September, so after the long summer of waiting and not knowing how is it going to be, I was finally saying goodbye to my family and heading to the airport with all my life in one suitcase (and a package on the way hahahah). To be honest, I was scared as hell, it was my first time going so far by myself, I was afraid to get lost, I was afraid that I will not like it, that I will not find friends and other stupid stuff. The first two weeks were difficult, I was surrounded by so many people, but none of them were very close to me, so I felt alone, but after some time I started to get on my feet again, I made lots of friends, some of them became like family to me. I fell in love with the city, I knew were to go, what to do, so I felt like it has become my home.
I lived in the dorms, but it was only for international students, so we had parties and gatherings in the kitchen almost every day, every time you want to talk to someone, you just go to the kitchen and you will always find someone there, it felt amazing! I was supposed to stay for five months, but I loved being there so much that I prolonged my studies and instead I stayed for eleven months and I would have stayed for even longer! Life there was different, I felt more alive and more free. I travelled a lot, explored new things and realized what I want from life.
For people who say that Erasmus is only partying and studying, well, you are wrong, Erasmus is much more, it is the way of living. During the year I’ve changed a lot, I grew up as a person, I experienced what it feels like to be far way from your family, to live completely independent life, how to communicate with different people, but most importantly, during my exchange I met so many amazing people, some of them became very close to me and I am still in touch with them, and I am sure I will always be. Every person who crossed my path during that time made my Erasmus unforgettable. My life will never be as it was, and honestly, I don’t want it to be.
„Yeah I'm going abroad..“ - „Where are you going?“ - „Vilnius, Lithuania.“ - „Seriously? Why?“
That's how my expierence started. Nobody could understand why I chose Lithuania. And yes – it was my first choice. I wanted to explore new things - something different. And I definitly can say: it was something different and I don't regret anything.
I just started with the hope to find myself a little bit more. I came to Lithuania kind of afraid. And first of all I was totally shocked and wanted to go home back as soon as possible. But I didn't. And it was the best choice ever in my life.
I recommend you to stay in the dorms even when you are shocked at the first moment. When you think you are lost - when you are asking yourself if they like you, when you are asking yourself if you are going to find friends… Honestly, I was so afraid that nobody would accept me for who I am.
But you are not alone! Everyone who is coming is kind of alone, but because of this everyone is totally open minded. Everyone wants to find new friends, to have expierences, so don't worry and be ready for a time you won't forget.
I came to Vilnius just for one semester and I already miss every single moment of it.
I would describe this adventure like an „Erasmus-cloud“ - nothing is similar to your regular life in your country: you live in another world, you will break out of everything. And when you will come back home – the cloud is gone, but you will have your own memories forever in your life. So enjoy your time, travel, explore yourself and be a part of Lithuania.
You have to feel it by your own, you have to live there to know how amazing it is. Words can't express it. You will have it all in one: people from all over the world, adventures, parties, enjoying evenings, friends and family all around you with open hearts.
After all I can say: I found myself, I changed myself and I'm proud that I've been a part of Erasmus in Vilnius. Now I know that friendship doesn't mean seeing people every day, I'm sure I found some of the closest friends I ever had in different parts of the world!
Labai ačiū Vilnius for giving me such a treasure in my life. If you still don't get the message: Come on, go to Vilnius and explore life at it's best!! ;)
More than six months have passed since the day I was boarding a plane in Vilnius Airport, still in disbelief that in 6 hours I will see palm trees instead of snow. The decision to apply for an internship in Portugal was spontaneous, yet, one of the best decisions I have ever made.
I have to mention that it wasn’t my first time as an Erasmus – I had been on Erasmus exchange as a student in Poland on the previous year. Poznan is a perfect student city – lots of universities, dormitories, shopping malls and clubs, not to mention the fact that it’s quite a convenient location for those, who want to travel! It was great to meet people from Canada, Mexico, and India for the very first time; it was fun to learn ‘przepraszam’, ‘dziękuję’ and try to sound like a native polish speaker at the restaurants... I had explored Poland with the people that I am now able to call my friends – even though more than one year has passed, we still spend hours chatting!
Despite all the good things, Poznan wasn’t a big step out of my comfort zone – there are quite a lot of similarities between Lithuanian and Polish cultures and lifestyle. Moreover, by that time I knew that if things went wrong, I could just pack up and get back home within a few hours… That’s why I felt so excited about challenging myself once again and going somewhere further!
Three months of Erasmus in Lisbon felt like one week - each day was full of impressions, discoveries and laughter. Of course, the beginning wasn‘t so easy – it took some time to get used to different lifestyle and working culture... It took ages to stop getting lost in hundreds of small streets of Lisbon on the way home!
However, it only took a week or two to fall in love with Lisbon... This multicultural city has a lot to offer: I fell in love with breath-taking landscapes from the viewpoints (Miradouros) and charming architecture; cosy atmosphere, delicious food and live music concerts in restaurants and cafes; crazy nights at the clubs and in the streets of Bairro Alto district, where people from every corner of the world meet! Portuguese people have shown me the best of their hospitality, helpfulness and friendliness. It’s charming to experience how relaxed and optimistic they are about their lives! I have met many different people from the entire world and got to know about their cultures and countries, each of them taught me something. It’s hard to notice the moment when the new city starts to feel like home and when new friends become your family. Erasmus comes to an end really fast; nevertheless, the city, the people and their stories, sleepless nights, funny moments always remain in your memory and take up a special place in your heart!
I know for sure that I will go to visit Poznan and Lisbon someday. Would I go on Erasmus for the third time? Definitely yes! Moreover, I think every former Erasmus would give you the same answer – once you experience it, there‘s no way back!
“Labas!”, “Laba diena!”, “Gerai!”, “Ačiū!” – Words I already miss, words I will never forget, words which make me smile. My Erasmus time is one of the best times in my life and I will never forget it! It´s like living your life in a big bubble full of dreams and happiness! =)
I remember my coordinator who told me that there is a new destination where I can go to and I just thought, “Vilnius? Why there?” But I went for this big adventure and I can say now that I really don´t regret it. Lithuania is such a beautiful, impressive and totally green country. I met many interesting people, visited many cities, forests and locations and I cannot tell anything bad about this small, cozy and cute piece in the world.
But I think it´s not important where I´ve been. It´s about all the great people I´ve met. Without them it wouldn´t have been such an adventure, such fun, such an amazing experience. It didn´t matter where I am from or where all my friends are from- we simply just loved each other. We were a big Erasmus family, we shared and we cared. Cultures, religions, names, habits, languages, looks- there are no differences and everybody is treated equally.
I am so happy that I had this opportunity to go abroad for my studies, because I had also the chance to get to know my new friends from all over the world- Italy, Spain, Germany, France, Korea, China, Ukraine, Russia, Poland, Portugal, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Mongolia, Slovakia, Taiwan, Georgia, America, Estonia, Latvia & of course Lithuania!
It´s incredible and unbelievable how fast and how easy you can get new friends in Erasmus. Everybody sticks together all the time and you just enjoy the moments you share. You don´t even think about the end, when everyone is leaving and separating to their countries, because it feels unreal. But unfortunately the end is coming one day…
Well, actually it´s not an end, because “Once Erasmus-always Erasmus!” Erasmus opens your eyes and your heart and changes your life forever. I am so thankful for this time and I hope that all the future Erasmus students will have the same impressions as I had- no prejudices, no hate and no fights. Just a lot of new friendships and an unforgettable lifetime experience. Ačiū labai!
I am pretty sure that I´ll never stop travelling and visiting my friends, just to see all those amazing faces again in my life! So guys, be prepared, because I´m coming soon!
Iki pasimatymo & viso gero!
I've spent my Autumn semester doing Erasmus in Madrid.
Erasmus for me wasn't just a study semester abroad. It was the time which changed my personality, made me much more tolerant, open-minded and constantly seeking for new adventures. It was the semester of opportunities, semester of getting to know people from around the world but all with the same goal - to experience the place they are in and make friends all around the globe. And here I am - 6 months after it all have finished, but I'm still seeking the same, living in the same pace of exploring cultures, places and people. That semester as an Erasmus student made me realise that I'm a citizen of the world, not just one country.
I remember when I first received the list of universities I could study in. I looked at the paper and saw all of these amazing countries I could choose to be in. I was so overwhelmed I couldn't contain my excitement. Travel was something I had dreamed about all of my life and to me in that moment my only dream was coming true.
Picking where to go was simple. I know from my year away that Lithuania was not everyones first choice of study but surprisingly and honestly I can say it was mine... And I think it was the best decision I ever made. Never before have I met so many people from so many different places and background, and can we all just take a moment to realize that most of us were strangers when we met and isn't it funny how now we are almost a family?
That is how fast life changes...
That is how fast my life changed.
Lithuania is a strange and magical country where the impossible and the crazy are sitting just a short breath outside your door. There really is something in the city for everyone, and if you aren't sure yet what you like, well you have plenty of chances to figure it out. Woodland picnics, ice skating, trampolines, aqua park, kayaking, cycling trips, escape room, adventure parks.... You really can find anything and even the nightlife varies. Outdoor concerts, Indie/Rock bars, Trance, Nightclubs and even many pubs if you can't stand the club music. It's no wonder I fell in love with this beautiful city.
Vilnius made me realize just how much I can appreciate the world with other people and not just by myself. It made me open my heart again and overcome my fear of people not liking me for who I am. It showed me a life where I loved and was loved in return. It really is true what they say... Erasmus gives you the tools and opportunity to adapt and grow into the person you want to become, it changes your life.
For most of us it can be breaking stereotypes or making them, it can teach us new languages or about cultures we only imagined... but the most important thing that Erasmus does for you is give you a lifetime worth of memories and a family of friends you once called a stranger.
Grateful doesn't even begin to describe how I feel for the opportunity I was given.
So on that note I will finish with Labai Viskas.
Everything is over. That sad day is coming, it's the time to come back home.
I'm here, on the meadow of my dormitory, it's empty. There is no one now. Everybody has already left. This greenery saw a lot of different cultures, it saw us playing football, volleyball, singing, reading, making barbeque, having fun and sometimes even studying. This greenery was the first thing I saw from the window of my room, but then it was completely white because of the snow. Just in that moment I understood where I was.
I can remember the first day here. Vilnius, Sauletekio n.39. Big and old sovietic building. It was dirty. I was alone in my room, without my roommate, without Internet and without knowing what to do and where to go. Anxiety... I was afraid, terrified and I really wanted to come back to Italy, I felt like crying, I didn't know anyone.. I was alone in that room. Yes.. That room.. N.30! It saw a lot of things, it knows a lot of stories. If just those walls could talk... My room was my first friend, because it helped me, it was kind of protection for me. I couldn't know my future here. I had just one question: "Where is Lithuania? In which part of the world is it?" I never could know that this dorm would become my new home, that this experience would be one of the most beautiful stories of my life. I never thought I could fall in love with that city so quickly. Vilnius affected me, it won over me.
I remember when I heard the first Italian voice in the corridor and I asked her help. She was my first friend, and after that I met other friends and more and more other people. Two weeks later I knew each 120 people in my dorm. I wasn't afraid anymore, I wanted to meet new people, I wanted to improve my English. I wanted to reach my goals. In 5 months I visited 7 countries, I met fantastic people from everywhere and now I'm lucky because I have a lot of friends around the world: Turkish, Koreans, Lithuanians, French, Portughese, Georgians, Austrians, Spanish, Argentines, Slovaks, Americans, Australians, Italians etc. They became my family, my life, my everything. I ate garlic bread, I tried the Lithuanian cuisine: potatoes potatoes and potatoes! I passed my fright to follow the English classes.. I did a lot of other stuff.. But I LIVED. I was HAPPY! I was ALIVE!!!
I understood that life is the emotion, it's sharing, it's helping each other.. Life is everything I did in this fantastic experience. I'm crying because this adventure is over, they are tears of joy and sadness because all beautiful things make you sad when they are over. Now I don't know my future yet, I don't know what I have to do.. I just know that these 5 months have been the best of my life. I hope everybody could have the same experience in their life.
Ačiū Vilnius, Ačiū my Erasmus friends. I will not forget you. You have made my Erasmus UNFORGETTABLE!!!
More than one year ago my application for the Double-Degree program promoted by my home University had a positive response. I was happy for my University career, but I have to be honest and say that I was not so enthusiast about the destination. I knew nothing about Vilnius and Lithuania, or better, nothing more than it is in the North of Europe and so it is so cold. I could not even imagine how amazing is this city and how amazing would have been my semester! I could say that it was a continuous magical discovery. First of all the beauty of the city itself with its uncountable surprises at each corner, its art, its history and its strange (but very good!) food. Then, the incredible mix of people, cultures and colours. And the Lithuanian passion for everything they do and their pride for their own identity. It is something really astonishing! I found there lots of wonderful people from all around the World: Europe, Asia, Australia, the whole World in the same place. I will always keep in my heart the really unexpected and huge friendships created during this semester. Now that I said goodbye to all that people, now that I can no more meet each one of them in front of the Brodvejus or dance all together in Salento till seven in the morning, I realize that it is impossible to put in words all the emotions and feelings experienced in this period. I can only remember all this for the rest of my life. Yes, because experiences like this definitely change your point of view, your way to look at people and listen to their little incredible stories. You learn that life is unpredictable, that behind eyes and smiles there are joys and sorrows that you cannot even imagine and you can find someone special right in front of you waiting for your love and friendship.
Last year this time I got my acceptance letter from Vilnius University. I didn't know what was awaiting me in that time but I was hoping for a whole new chapter. 2 semesters have passed now and in few weeks we will give the final tribute to our Erasmus life. In my 20 years I’ve said my goodbyes but this one is definitely going to be special. Before starting my Erasmus I heard many things about it, some said it was all about parties, others said it’s all about studying but in fact Erasmus is a much bigger experience then these, Erasmus is about change. I loved seeing people change their views, breaking stereotypes, broadening limits and making memories.
For me Erasmus was a whole life in a year. Recently I discovered that during our Erasmus we have unconsciously created our very own slang, which we will be not able to use somewhere else or with someone else. Sometimes it’s so sad, to live this life and to move forward. Never could I have imagined all the crazy things that we did during the Erasmus time. Lithuania has been amazing experience. From the very first “Labas” I’m learning something new about Lithuania every single day. I could never imagine that Vilnius would become my second home. I am truly in love with Vilnius, it is so simple I just take a bike and explore the old town. City is very warm and quite an international. This year I have met people from all possible nationalities.
Night life in Vilnius is very vibrant and nice. I’m saying this because it’s relevant for the full Erasmus experience package. In the beginning of Erasmus some people were shy and not really into the parties but those are now party animals. The Erasmus typical day would start from 6:00 am when we were coming back from a Salento night to the dormitory to sleep for 2 hours and get ready for the midterms or presentations. Timing is everything, but even if someone is bad on it, I’m sure they will develop it during the mobility. Traveling was another experience with the Erasmus people that I really liked. We did the mainstream euro trip to Paris, Rome, Barcelona and later on to Scandinavia. I swam in the Mediterranean and I saw the most amazing places in Scandinavia that I never even knew existed before.
The formal aspects of my mobility were that I was able to take a variety of courses that introduced me to management and marketing. The courses were flexible and the professors were very supportive. One thing that personally I really appreciate was the academic assistance and personal approach to us. I am so glad I was given the choice of studying here because, I did learn so much about what is going on in the global world in terms of International Economics, globalization, marketing, management and so on.
However, success in Vilnius University is not just about finals or GPA. We were expected to demonstrate creativity and critical thinking. Lastly, Erasmus was also a time to know ourselves. To become wiser, stronger and more goal oriented. We can be teachers, engineers, economists, and whoever we want to be but in our countries we will not be just citizens, we will be citizens of continents, skies, and spaces. We will be citizens of the world. Living abroad definitely gives us a global citizenship. Erasmus was one of the best periods of my student life so far and while I was writing this article I had millions of flashbacks to our journey. I have made memories and friends to last me a life time. But whatever you hear about Erasmus might be not true the only truth is that your life after Erasmus will not be the same.
A year has passed and now we stand on the brink, of returning to a world where we are surrounded by the paradox of everything and yet nothing being the same. In a couple of weeks we will reluctantly give our hugs and, fighting the tears, we will say goodbye to people who were once just names on a sheet of paper to return to people that we hugged and fought tears to say goodbye to before we ever left. We will leave our best friends to return to our best friends.
We will go back to the places we came from, and go back to the same things we did last summer and every summer before. We will come into town on that same familiar road, and even though it has been months, it will seem like only yesterday. As you walk into your old bedroom, every emotion will pass through you as you reflect on the way your life has changed and the person you have become. You suddenly realize that the things that were most important to you a year ago don't seem to matter so much anymore, and the things you hold highest now, no one at home will completely understand.
Who will you call first? What will you do your first weekend home with your friends? Where are you going to work? Who will be at the party Saturday night? What has everyone been up to in the past few months? Who from school will you keep in touch with? How long before you actually start missing people barging in without calling or knocking? Then you start to realize how much things have changed, and you realize the hardest part of being an exchange student is balancing the two completely different worlds you now live in, trying desperately to hold on to everything all the while trying to figure out what you have to leave behind.
We now know the meaning of true friendship. We know who we have kept in touch with over the past year and who we hold dearest to our hearts. We've left our worlds to deal with the real world. We've had our hearts broken, we've fallen in love, we've helped our best friends overcome eating disorders, depression, stress, and death. We've lit candles at the grotto and we've stayed up all night on the phone just to talk to a friend in need. There have been times when we've felt so helpless being hours away from home when we know our families or friends needed us the most, and there are times when we know we have made a difference.
Just weeks from now we will leave. Just weeks from now we take down our pictures, and pack up our clothes. No more going next door to do nothing for hours on end. We will leave our friends whose random e-mails and phone calls will bring us to laughter and tears this summer, and hopefully years to come. We will take our memories and dreams and put them away for now, saving them for our return to this world.
Just weeks from now we will arrive. Just weeks from now we will unpack our bags and have dinner with our families. We will drive over to our best friend's house and do nothing for hours on end. We will return to the same friends whose random emails and phone calls have brought us to laughter and tears over the year. We will unpack old dreams and memories that have been put away for the past year. In just weeks we will dig deep inside to find the strength and conviction to adjust to change and still keep each other close. And somehow, in some way, we will find our place between these two worlds.
In just weeks...