The day I got my acceptance letter, telling me I have been offered a place at the University of Dundee, Scotland, I jumped with joy…then immediately started worrying. As someone who often finds it difficult to get to know people, the thought of starting over in a new country equally enthralled and terrified me. After coming back from a largely positive experience, I took time to reflect and realised just how even more beneficial Erasmus+ was – much more than I ever expected. Here’s why:
- Meeting new People
This might not be a difficult one for the extroverts out there, but it’s something that’s helped me quite a lot. Normally, I would never go for an event made exclusively to meet – and talk (!) – to new people, but being in a new place and knowing next to no one pushes you to go out and face your ‘fears’. The actual benefits of this is that it will (hopefully) reverberate once you get back. If you managed to go up and talk to people in a foreign country, you can do it here, too!
- Reinventing yourself
Living in a place you have never been before is not only exhilarating, it also means that you can, to an extent, re-invent yourself a little bit. If you’re the shy-type, you’ll know how difficult it is to get out of the shell you’re so comfortable in. Since you’re technically starting anew, making a conscious effort to improve yourself can look a little easier, and perhaps less intimidating. Go up to that person you like! Go on that day trip! You’ll thank yourself for it later.
- Enhancing your decision-making skills
Erasmus has encouraged me to try new things, say ‘yes’ a bit more, while also learning how to say no. Priorities are contemplated, whether consciously or not, ranging from taking trips on the weekends to simple daily chores at home. Learning how to be a quasi-normal functioning human requires you to make decisions, even the smallest of them, that up till now you didn’t think of making. The end result is having a clearer mind, and being a better, assertive decision-maker.
- Erasmus is a Trial
In moments of difficulty or hesitation, it was helpful to remember that this was not my permanent, new life; just an exciting trial. Suddenly, the prospect of having small talk with someone you don’t know, or making that mistake, do not seem as big of a deal. You’re learning, you’re shaping up to be a better person, and in the end, you’ll come back home.
- Saying goodbye to your comfort zone
Chances are you have never lived away from home for a considerable period of time. Living with people outside your family is not easy, but it is not something to avoid completely either. Having to share a flat is only one of the ways you’ll have to step out of your comfort zone. In hindsight, it will be worth it. Coming back home, certain problems will not seem as unmanageable as before.
These are simply the tip of the iceberg. Erasmus+ is much more than growing as a person; it’s about experiencing things you cannot at home, strengthening friendships and having a unique experience entirely of your own making. Everyone with the opportunity to try it out should go for it, no matter if you’re an introvert or an extrovert – Erasmus is for everyone. It is truly an unmissable adventure.