Looking back at my first four years of university, I can say that studying abroad was the best decision I ever made. Since my four-month Erasmus in Thessaloniki, Greece had brought me so much happiness, I decided to apply for another semester abroad, this time in Krakow, Poland.
There are many different study programmes out there. Erasmus is by far the most famous (at least in Europe). The Erasmus+ Programme lets you choose between studying abroad, going on an Erasmus internship, volunteering, and many more exchanges. The programme offers great opportunities, but today we are talking about the Erasmus+ Study Abroad programme. I think that studying abroad is something that everyone should experience at least once during their university years and these are the reasons why:
My number 1 reason why I wanted to study abroad was to travel. Travel brings me a special kind of happiness that is hard to explain. Travelling means exploring a new culture and getting lost in unfamiliar places. The spontaneous trips you will take during your year or semester abroad will leave you with so many stories to tell. My advice to you is to travel as much as you can! Check out The Crete Trip and tell me you don’t want to experience it too!
2. Making new friends
Making friends is such an incredible experience, yet this is also the reason why so many get cold feet before going abroad. It makes me sad to think that someone will stay at home because they are scared they won’t get on with people. Programmes like Erasmus are full of people who are just like you. Most go on Erasmus alone. In the end, you all go on an Erasmus with the same goal, to have the best time of your life.
Meeting friends on Erasmus is so much different than at home. On Erasmus, everyone approaches everyone, and people are so open-minded. My only tip is to say yes to everything (ok, not everything, but you know what I mean). If someone invites you to a gathering, for a coffee, a beer, or to a party, say yes. Erasmus is full of amazing people with inspiring stories to tell.
The people I met on my Erasmus became more than my friends. After four months of spending all of your time with someone, it becomes hard to leave. By the end, you will have so many new, amazing people from all around Europe in your life. Your Erasmus family is waiting for you!
Even though we are talking about studying abroad, in my opinion, education doesn’t deserve to get first place on this list. You definitely will have to study while abroad, and the number of classes you will have will vary. The more courses you can find abroad that match the ones at your home university, the better. Finding the right classes means having fewer obligations after coming home.
Informal education is what makes you richer while studying abroad. You will learn so much about the culture of your host country, but also about the cultures all around Europe directly from your friends. We are all so much alike and yet so different. Another thing you will learn is to respect others and their way of life. It will make you much more open-minded and welcoming towards other people.
4. Erasmus = Cultural enrichment
Cultural enrichment is another reason to study abroad. You will widen your horizons, and being a part of another culture will make you much more tolerant. Every culture has something new to teach you. Make sure to take some time and explore the cultural landmarks in your new city.
Once you have lived abroad all by yourself, you can do anything. Moving to a new country for a few months, all by yourself, doing all the paperwork, getting to know the city and new people, is challenging. But once you have done it, trust me, you will be proud of yourself.
For a lot of young people, studying abroad means leaving the family nest for the first time. Another thing that you will be in charge of on your own is your spending. Most Erasmus students get a scholarship before going on an Erasmus. You have to use that money wisely. Smart spending means always having enough for a trip or a night out! You will learn how to budget and set priorities to make the most out of what you have.
6. Erasmus is the ultimate test
Erasmus is the perfect opportunity to find out how long you can be away from home without feeling homesick. For many young people, studying abroad seems unappealing. Sometimes the reason for it is leaving home and not seeing family and friends for some time.
Erasmus will be the perfect test to see whether long-term travelling or moving to a new country for work is right for you. For most people, this will be their first independent trip and the perfect test for the future.
7. Learning a new language
Studying abroad is the perfect time to learn a new language. Surrounded by people from all over Europe, you will get to learn any language you want. There could be no better place to learn a language than in the country of its origin. You will have the chance to practice your new skills daily. The best way to learn is to force yourself to use the language in the store and while ordering in a restaurant.
8. Practice English
Learning a new language might not be for everyone. Practising English skills, however, is one of the reasons why people study abroad. How much your English skills will improve depends on you. Some people I met barely spoke any English in the beginning. The improvement in their English after four months was huge. Still, you have those whose language skills stayed the same because they only hung out with people from the same country.
Make your Erasmus the time to meet new people and forget about the familiar. So many people are scared of studying abroad because they think their English is not good enough. Most of them speak English very well and way better than some people who go on Erasmus. The point is, you should not be scared. Be brave, mingle, meet new friends, explore new places and widen your horizons.
Spending a semester or a year studying abroad is the perfect experience to add to your resume. It shows that you are independent and ready to take risks. Most employers will find studying abroad an advantage, and it will always be a great conversation topic.
The act of studying abroad will not be the only thing you will be able to add to your resume. As I mentioned earlier, a new language or at least a new level of English is always a great skill to boost your resume! Going on Erasmus will make you stand out and have an advantage over others.
10. Job opportunities after Erasmus
Studying abroad positively affects your resume, so it also gives you more chances of getting the job you’re applying for. If you are looking for a job in a larger company, having had a cultural experience is always an advantage. A lot of companies like to know that you are a team player.
Meeting new people from different cultures and languages is the perfect way to see how much of a team player you can be and just how adaptable you are. If you can be a part of a multicultural group, you can definitely find a way to work in a team of new people. P.S. Did you know that about 64% of employers consider an international experience to be a significant advantage for recruitment?
Explore more & go on an Erasmus exchange!
As I like to finish with my ‘explore more’ segment, this is the perfect opportunity to actually say: explore more! Dare to travel! The world is waiting for you. The people you will meet will help you create some of the best memories. You will have so many stories to share. Imagine having a friend in each European country and even further! This is exactly what doing an Erasmus gives you. Plus you get money to do it! If I convinced at least one of you to consider doing an Erasmus, my job was more than successful!
Written by Donatela Dekanic. Originally published here.