Why to participate in Erasmus? My experience… 

It has been almost 2 weeks since I returned from Romania and I’ve been waiting for my feelings to let go a little. I’ve been a little lost after I got back, but now I’ve finally found the strength and motivation to carry on my experience to you. And honestly, if you had told me on my first days of the journey that I would be here now, writing for you again, I wouldn’t believe…

Scepticism again

I swear I’m not a pessimistic person but I was skeptical all over again. I thought I learned on my first Erasmus project to be patient and that good things will come if you just do what you like. Yet this trip has turned sideways so many times that I found really hard to look at the bright side. But let’s leave that aside for a while and start speaking about the project.

Our Youth Exchange was located in Corbeni, Romania and was about digital entrepreneurship. We decided to travel by car. We knew that Corbeni (our project’s location) was kinda in the middle of nowhere but we didn’t even know half of it! As we were getting more close to our destination we were slowly starting to feel the energy of isolated places in Romania. The feeling when you know you are too far away from anything that is remotely familiar to you. The roads have stopped having asphalt, we started to notice more old and less young people, there was more snow, more mountains… Shops and gas stations were also becoming rare and at a moment we almost ran out of gas. The last 30 km the road was so difficult, we had to drive in the first gear for almost 2 hours because of macadam, snow, heavy turns and some big holes on the road. We finally arrived in Corbeni. It was a little hard but fun experience going by car. Now we are finally here and hyped for the project and new people.

Don’t stick to first impressions

I was curious about what other people will be like. I was here now in our hotel in this beautiful small village but there was nothing around. Nature is interesting and gorgeous but there were no places to go, no social life and no people. So I was really hoping the participants coming from 5 other countries (Bulgaria, Greece, Spain, Turkey and Romania) are gonna be as good as on my first Erasmus. The thing is when you go to your second Erasmus project you start comparing everything with the first one. People were starting to come and they seemed okay, just okay. As the project started and I slowly started to meet people I was a little disappointed… Later I realized I was wrong about so many things and so many people there…

Open mindedness

It was the third day and my time there was okay but I was still comparing it to my first Erasmus and so it wasn’t that good. I didn’t know it then but the truth is it can never be like the first one. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be as good… I was looking for beauty in the wrong places (in the past). Once I let myself go to the moment, my mood and time there started to get better. In the last days, a lot of people that I talked to said that in the first days they also thought it’s gonna be the worst Erasmus project but things changed for them after couple of days. It was like a snap. We don’t know the exact moment but suddenly we all got so close and I felt like I know everyone for years. I remember I already started thinking about how sad I’m gonna be at the end of the project. I wouldn’t lie if I said that my 2 best experiences in life are the 2 Erasmus projects I participated in. But what is so great about it? I have given myself some time to think and I would say the best part about Erasmus is that you have a chance to truly be yourself. You leave your regular life behind for some time and travel to a new location where everything is different. You don’t have your friends and you don’t need to do anything you’d have to at home. You have new people from 6 countries and you have a project you need to do with them. On top of all, you don’t speak your native language, you speak English. All that gives you a chance to detach yourself from what you know and start being yourself completely. It really gives you a chance to find yourself. I had a thought in my head, it’s maybe weird but it goes like this: I was just born and I can create a new personality, none of these people know me, I can be whoever I want to be… So I was just being open-minded to anything, we all were and that is why we had such a great time. Everyone that was there with me would agree that time passes by more slowly there… It was a 10-day combination of working hard and partying hard. And we really worked hard. Our project goal was to enrich our minds about digital entrepreneurship and how we can start a business from home. We had many interesting activities and I think we all learned so much through unconventional methods of learning. Throughout every activity, most of us were focused and we really put some effort into what we were doing. Some people didn’t know English that well but we helped them. I found it so beautiful seeing 30 of us together like that. Working, pushing each other’s boundaries and on top of all having the best time ever. The atmosphere was so relaxed. I didn’t even know I can do something productive from 10 AM to 8 PM. I really thought I didn’t have it in me but this project has showed me differently. All in all, I’m thankful for how much I learned and I’m trying now to put all that into a good purpose. I’m being more productive, and I’m more relaxed when presenting. During the first days I was a little shy when I had to present in front of 30 people in English but in the end, it was so easy that I didn’t even have to struggle. I guess you can only truly overcome your fears by putting yourself in the worst possible situations. I also want to mention that because of the events on my 2 Erasmus projects and people I met I decided to learn Turkish. 

For my Erasmus friends…

We all learned so much about ourselves and digital entrepreneurship. But all that is nothing compared to all the things we lived through together and how good of friends we all became. I really wish I can make you all understand what Erasmus is like but you just have to experience it, so if anyone reading this is in a dilemma or has thought about applying, don’t think, just apply! This last part is dedicated to my friends from the project because there is no one else in this world that understands 😉 I thank you all for the incredible time. I am not gonna name anyone because I could talk about each of you for hours. I will just say you all inspired me so much. And I will always remember everything that we did. All the activities, gossips, debates, treasure hunt, doing makeup for parties, partying, breaking a leg, breaking a window, exchanging pijamas, secret friends, love stories and chicken in the bed. I remember one magical moment we (boys) stood in a circle at the party and just said how grateful we are for this and how much we love and respect each other. At that moment everything made sense. It was some magical feeling I don’t think I will forget. I also remember falling in love with one girl and experiencing all that even for a short time we had.  I remember all the deep talks and messing around with all of you and this project isn’t the one that motivated me, It’s because all of you. So thank you. Also special thanks to our organizators, they were the best! I was really sad when I was leaving and I’m sad right now just thinking about all this but Winnie the pooh said: “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard…”

Love you all and we will see eachother again someday and make new memories again.

I feel like crying now so I’m gonna stop, hope you enjoyed.

Everyone applyyyy to Erasmus it’s really the best experience you can get, ask anyone that went…

— Marko, 20 years old, Croatia —

The project „DEFRY – Digital Entrepreneurship for Rural Youth” was financed with the support of the European Commission through Erasmus+ Programme. This blog reflects only the author’s views, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

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