It’s important to note that each Erasmus semester is as unique and individual as a snowflake. No one else will ever quite have the same experience as you. Despite this, there do appear to be some overlapping themes which occur for every exchange student, such as language barrier awkwardness and hilarity, as well as the occasional adjustment issue. Another one of these common threads which unite our personalised patches of Erasmus experience has to be our lecturers. Here are some types of lecturers every Erasmus student will inevitably encounter:
1. The one who thinks you don’t understand anything
This is probably everyone's least favourite lecturer and with good reason. You have worked hard to be the high-flying university student you are and are even taking the extra challenge of integrating yourself into a new country and tackling the complicated world of academia in a language you weren't immersed in from birth. Therefore, it is pretty clear you're not dumb. Yet to these lecturers, as soon as they hear a faint falter in your accent, a hesitation before speaking, or a slightly mispronounced word, they go into "foreign student mode". This involves them speaking very slowly to you, and so much patronising nodding you fear they will strain their neck. And if you actually try asking if they can maybe clarify some points you weren't clear on, or you have a deeply profound question you want to share, this will only ‘confirm’ their suspicions and they will attempt to explain the basics you already know. It’s not to say they are bad people, it just never helps to underestimate the intelligence that Erasmus students bring to the discussion.
2. The one you simply can’t understand
Although you have been in your host country for a good while now, and you have grasped how to handle the majority of accents and different ways of speaking, this lecturer will always be an exception. With their own concoction of mumbles, grumbles, and lexical tumbles, he creates a linguistic labyrinth that’s pretty damn difficult to escape. Instead of leaving the lecture feeling enlightened, you instead feel disheartened with your language skills and fear that ever-approaching exam date.
3. The one whose handwriting you can’t read
Annoyingly, this is also often the same lecturer as the one you can’t understand. You get a faint glimmer of hope that you may finally be able to work out what has been happening for the last ten weeks as he approaches the board, chalk in hand. If anything, it becomes worse as you apply your seemingly limited language skills to work out any possible resemblance that his illegible scribble has to any word you know.
4. The one who can’t pronounce your name
You see the panic in their eyes as they attempt to read it off the list in front of them. You know they’re trying so hard, you can see their strained face and pursed lips as they frantically try to find their way around this word that puzzles them. Yet, tragically, they just can’t get to grips with the diabolical sorcery that is your name. Often, this is understandable and you are fine with it - why should you expect them to pronounce a name that they have never encountered before? However, at times, it does get a bit much when they end up calling you something like "turnip" rather than the carefully selected name your parents gave to their darling treasure.
5. The one who’s simply too boring
You try so, so hard to concentrate during the lectures because you know that, deep down, the content is really interesting and it’s actually more beneficial if you listen rather than drift off into your glorious imagination. Yet, there comes a point where that lethally-combined monotonous voice and static presence of your lecturer becomes too much to handle. Whilst he drones on, reading of that presentation you just wish he would put online, your mental realm of unicorns and dancing cats lulls you into its warm embrace to spare you from the torture that the next two hours would otherwise be.
6. The one who doesn’t believe in online resources
Despite there being a perfectly good IT services system in place, specially designed so that students can actually go over lecture notes at their own pace, most lecturers just don't bother with it. It is more forgivable of the zany, old-school lecturers, as you know they're on a mission to rebel against tyrannical technology and its dehumanisation of the world, but it’s irritating when lecturers spend hours on their snazzy presentations they show off in lectures but would rather keep for themselves.
7. The one who’s a bad-ass
Usually a young, and quite often female, lecturer is the one person we all crave to be. With their extreme intelligence, passion for the subject, and simply overwhelming competence, you can’t help but be in awe of this lecturer. They’re so organised and on the ball, they know what problems you're going to have and have found a way resolve them before you have fathomed that you might have an issue.
8. The one who’s too charismatic
You know from the first day you shouldn't attend his lectures - the content would be way too difficult in your own language, let alone in a foreign one. Yet you can’t resist that charming grin and the charismatic energy that this lecturer gives off as he talks so passionately about his subject. You’re just one in the masses of entranced students trapped by the magic of his presence, and somehow the inevitable doom of failure seems worth it.
9. The one who’s too nice
It's the twinkle in their eye, their kindly smile, the soft way they say "that's okay" when it becomes increasingly obvious how little work you've actually done and the way they’re always willing to be kind and supportive whenever you try contributing to discussions. They usually seem to respect the fact that you are actually a competent being, despite any lexical mishaps or gaps in knowledge and they understand that adjusting to a new city and way of life takes time. They are basically the kind of top-notch professors that really help make the Erasmus experience so much better.
10. The one who really does care
This professor is like the too-nice one, but they take it one step further - they genuinely want to make sure you're okay. They'll happily ask you how you're doing and make sure you're handling everything well. The best thing these great human beings do is offer you a different form of assessment, such as an extended essay instead of an exam. These lecturers are truly the bee’s knees and should not be taken for granted; there aren't too many of these awesome gems in the world.
Despite some of these lecturers being perhaps less-than-ideal, you will definitely meet some who will help inspire you on your journey of learning and discovery. However, it’s important to remember that, in all honesty, most of what you will learn during your Erasmus year won't be in the classroom; it will be through the adventures you have, the friendships you make, and the language and culture you embrace as your own. That is the true Erasmus education that unites us all in our tapestry of life.
Written by Emma Cary