Erasmus Diaries part 6: things I wish I knew before going abroad

As my time in Oviedo comes to an end, I’m grateful for the things I’ve learned and experienced on my Erasmus. If you’ve been following the adventure in Spain so far it’s obvious that this story hasn’t always been so straightforward. From starting fresh in a new country to living in an alternative culture, I’ve come so far to joyfully call Oviedo my home.

With this, through all of these miscellaneous situations, I’ve grown more than I ever thought I could and I wish to bestow upon you some ‘pearls’ of wisdom I’ve learned through my time on an Erasmus.

Dramatic highs and lows are for Hollywood movies

Before venturing into the unfamiliar world of an Erasmus like most students I researched as much as possible. Any attempt to find something that would give me a glimpse into what I was about to face. Examining other peoples Erasmus experiences they always seem to consist of the same formula. Unknown place, dizzying highs in a beautiful location followed by harrowing lows that threatened their entire existence there. I hate to burst the bubble on this dramatic performance but this isn’t a Hollywood movie and life isn’t like that. Yes, even if you’re on an Erasmus. There will be moments of intense emotions and stressful low points but generally, it is still just you. As time passes and the place becomes more familiar to you, most days are just like any other. Attending college, cooking food, watching TV, normal and simple. This isn’t changed by going abroad.

It’ll all work out … eventually.

Planning an Erasmus can get messy, participating on one can be even messier. There never seems to be a moment where a form doesn’t have to sent out, a signature isn’t needed or your passport isn’t required to be scanned. Even now, this is still a big part of my Erasmus life. In the beginning, paperwork was one of the biggest issues and in some ways, it still is. What is most important to remember here is that it will all work out … eventually. It may take weeks, it may take months but all forms and college paperwork will be sorted. Both the sending university and host university will be more than willing to aid you in any way they can.

Take care of yourself, seriously.

An Erasmus can throw many unexpected curveballs to all who participate. It is so vital to take care of yourself. Frequently before departure and in the first couple of weeks at your new university you will hear the phrase “make the most of it while you’re there!” an unholy amount. While there is some truth to that statement no one should feel guilt in taking some days to themselves which can often get overlooked on an Erasmus. Everyone needs days to stay in bed, watch movies and have time for themselves. Commonly, being on an Erasmus makes people believe that unless excitement plays a role in every moment of your day, somehow that means you’re doing it wrong. This is completely untrue. Being in a different location and country doesn’t change the person you are or your need for your own space.

Expect the unexpected.

Erasmus travellers beware! The idea conjured up in your mind about how your adventures are going to be will never happen that way. To continue the bubble bursting, life will never work out the way you think, so embrace what becomes of it. For my experience many things happened I could never have planned so I was forced to deal with it in the moment. Living alone was an ordeal I never expected to take head-on. Don’t get me started on the ridiculous way of teaching without any power points or books that I did not adhere to either. Nothing planned out the way I daydreamed it would and being honest I’m so much happier that it didn’t. I’ve grown so much from all of these unexpected scenarios that I would not change them now no matter how difficult they were at the time.

With the Spanish semester ending and my return home fast approaching, my Erasmus journey segment also comes to a close. As a final word of thanks, I wish to express my appreciation for anyone who has read my writings and followed my adventure. I hope you all enjoyed it as much as I have and received a more honest and realistic insight into an Erasmus experience.