Welcome back to my Erasmus adventures! If you’re only joining me now, I will give a brief introduction to what this story is about. I am a third-year journalism and Spanish student who is spending the first semester at a university in the north of Spain. On arriving I had no friends, no family, no support system and was completely unfamiliar with the country, culture and lifestyle. In my previous article I painted a somewhat bleak canvas of my openly exposed terrors before my journey, now I’m here to tell you all about my first couple of days in my new home.
The first moments here have been a surreal blur. Wandering the beautiful streets, full of colour, character and glorious fountains, I can’t wrap my head around the fact that this is now home to me, for a while at least. After organising permanent accommodation and moving everything in, reality soon sunk in and it wasn’t pretty. The hopeless feeling that this is my present was genuinely terrifying, especially at night. Having no housemates now and for the foreseeable future, attending university meetings and appointments completely alone was both exhilarating and exhausting.
I would like to make the point, a point I feel is under stressed by many going on an Erasmus or travelling in general; going places is exhausting. Visiting new places is exhausting. Being completely honest with myself half of the time I just wanted to nap for fourteen hours. I feel the emotion and physical experience of going on an Erasmus is completely overlooked. But in saying that, I slowly began to settle in.
The first glimpse of my university future was with an appointment in the international office which I hoped would shine a light on what I’m meant to be doing here. With no emails, no timetable, no information, I was eager to find out everything I could. On arrival, it was a lot more crowded than I expected. After spending over an hour in a large queue I began chatting to complete strangers, that ended up being people I would now call friends. From that moment on, I knew I was going to be fine.
Unfortunately, after waiting such a long period of time I became concerned why my name had yet to be called out. As I began asking questions, the answer became clear. It turned out, I mixed up the dates and was a whole day early. Yes, I just spent over an hour in a queue that I wasn’t meant to be a part of and made, pardon my french but, a complete ass of myself.
Yet, I saw it as nothing short of a success. I made a handful of friends and even got word of a “Tapas Tuesday” event that was taking place that night. When talking to others about their first couple of days here I realised I wasn’t alone, in well, being here alone. Countless people were in the same boat as me and were just as eager to meet people which was extremely comforting.
As far as the communication goes, I really didn’t need to speak as much Spanish in the first couple of days as I thought I would. Majority of Erasmus students are from mainland Europe with impeccable English and many organisers or coordinators in regards to the university spoke a mixture of both languages to accommodate everyone in the beginning of this journey.
The more days that pass by, the more comfortable I begin to feel with my present surroundings while anticipating great and difficult times ahead. In my next article, I will be discussing my observations on the interesting differences between the nightlife in Spain and in Ireland. Stay tuned!