You'll never walk alone, some Erasmus wisdom

13 October 2017
I'm away for the year, in case you didn't know.


And this majestic building is my school. Or contains my school amongst a lot of other things to be more precise. Beautiful, right?

Studying abroad is something I've wanted to do for quite a while now. I, personally, think it's a great way to get to know yourself better, as a person, and become more independent.
The benefits of being away from your trusted environment for a prolonged amount of time, of course, comes with some struggles as well.
To be 'alone' and see yourself  in a completely new environment gives you a lot of insight into who you are, these insights being both positive and negative.
On my first day here, for example, I realised that I had no idea how to interact with people in a completely new and unfamiliar environment. I had no idea how to 'make friends' or start a conversation with complete strangers. That was quite panic-y considering the fact that I'm going to be here for a whole year, but this, at the same time, forced me to go beyond what I was comfortable with and talk to complete strangers. Which went better than expected.
During the past week I've met and abundance of new, lovely, inspiring people, just by walking up to them and starting a conversation. These conversations could be as simple as 'Where's class room 1248?' or 'Do you know where the international office is?', but asking people basic questions, that you probably need the answer too, makes you a familiar face to them. And if there an Erasmus student too, chances are that they're also on the hunt for people to spend some time with, people who can make this new town feel like home

Erasmus pro tip: Everyone's alone
If you're going to study abroad, and you have the same insecurities as me, remember that everyone's alone. People that go on Erasmus rarely go in pairs or groups. Everyone's looking for friends, someone to grab a beer with or a lunch buddy. 




When I first walked into my apartment, I must admit that I panicked a bit. 
For the past year I've always been very sure of my decision to leave and study somewhere else for a year, but once I got in the car and we started driving that's when it really sunk in what I was about to do.
We decided to drive from Amsterdam to Warsaw, which gave me a lot of time to think about everything. And in situations where you have a lot of time to (over)think, as some of you might know, your brain isn't always your best friend. But hey, it's normal to be a bit stressed about leaving everyone and everything you know for a year.

Something that helped me tremendously, to make my place here feel like home are the 'bits of home' that I brought with me.
I took all the goodbye cards, birthday cards, polaroids and photo-booth pictures that I could find in my room and hung them up all around my studio. This makes this place feel a lot more like home.
If this doesn't fully make your place feel like home, try to use the same color palette as your room at home, bring your own pillow and/or  room decor and try to surround yourself with familiar scents (I brought some of my favourited scented candles).
Anyplace can be home, don't worry, you'll make it work.

Erasmus pro tip: Bring a piece of home with you
What makes your room at home feel like home? Try to answer that question and put the answer into action at the new place you're living at.



Now let's talk about friends. 
Leaving your friends and family for a year isn't exactly the most pleasurable think I can think of, but think about the amazing experience you're getting in return. And keep in mind that this is the 21st century, so people are never more than a call, skype or facetime away. 

My grandma wasn't very pleased with the fact that I was leaving and I wasn't really looking forward to not seeing my grandma for months (we're besties). But I got creative and got her a webcam. Now we have Skype dates multiple times a week where we have coffee and catch up on each others lives. 

Erasmus pro tip: They're only one call away
Feel like talking to your friends? Just do it, you might not be able to do it face to face, but today's society comes with a lot of different ways to get/stay in touch with people.



It's normal to be homesick, but don't let that get in the way of the lovely experiences you're going to have when studying abroad.
Be as open to new experiences and doing things with new people. If you're classmates want to get brunch, go to a museum or take a weekend trip, don't overthink it, join them. You'll be surprised how much fun it is to do something with a completely new group of people.

Erasmus pro tip: Embrace the newness
Familiarity is comfortable, but newness is a hell of a lot of fun.


x,
Alex

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