I’ve always loved those stories about how Erasmus changes someone’s life, but I’ve never thought that I could be one of those people and experience something similar. Not enough time, too much work, doubts… Many questionable reasons stopped me from taking the big step, but all that changed when one day I decided that I wanted to challenge myself, completed all the documents for an Erasmus internship, and moved to Germany for 2 months.
That is a rough summary of how I ended up in Bad Schussenried, a city with a population lower than 9000. I have to admit that this was an unusual destination for me because I have always loved Northern Germany, yet I found myself in a German city that couldn’t be more southern.
The official internship title claimed that I was a supervisor in a language institute, where kids from all over the world were sent to to learn German, and I was supposed to take care of them, plan trips, and ensure that they would be entertained. Seems simple enough. I have to admit I didn’t really consider the fact that I was completely terrified of actually speaking German in front of others. It was one of those situations where I understood almost everything, but was able to only greet people, say bye to them, and ask which bread is the best. I had so many opportunities to practice German with native speakers in my country, but even the thought of that scared me more than I’d like to admit. Do you see how this might be a problem?
When I finally reached the institute after almost 30 hours of traveling, I was greeted by confused yet curious faces of almost 300 kids from France, Russia, Vietnam, China, Spain… The list could go on. It took some time for me to understand what was going on and what I had to do, but after that it felt as if I was right where I was supposed to be. Back then I had no idea that these kids would somehow teach me to be more patient and show me the value of the simple moments. What could be better than learning how to cook traditional Russian food or learning Japanese? Kids from all over the world wanted to teach me about their cultures and I was very grateful.
On the other hand, there are a lot of things from my internship that remind me of a comedy movie or funny stories you create and tell your friends to make them laugh. I always say almost everything weird that could have possibly happened during that internship… actually happened. For example, one time I was assigned to be one of the supervisors who traveled to Stuttgart with the kids. We always followed our regular procedure before leaving the institute or before coming back to it: count the kids, find whoever is missing or late, leave on time. However, these rules didn’t work that day. I noticed that one boy was missing and told everyone else to go back to the bus while I waited outside because I was still hoping he was just a little bit late. Half an hour passed, I took out the list with all the contacts and dialed his number. Or what I thought was his number. A boy answered his phone, and I immediately asked him to come to the bus because we had to leave soon. He refused and said he’s not coming. Imagine my confusion. After almost 10 minutes and multiple attempts to get the boy to come back, I realised something. The missing boy wrote his number wrong and I had just spent all that time talking to a stranger in China and asking him if he could come to the bus. I understood then why he refused to do so. Everything in my life always had to be planned because I like being organised, but I truly had to reevaluate so many things during my internship and after talking on the phone with a random person from China.
However, things like that wouldn’t happen every day. My daily life consisted of giving advice to teenagers about life, dreams, and love, giving a hug whenever someone would come down to the office because they couldn’t sleep or simply listening to the kids whenever they felt alone or had a problem. I was like an older sister to them. Also, a lot of my co-workers were like family to me, we laughed and we cried together because we knew that we had to take care of each other. It felt like home.
I didn’t even notice how those two months were gone and I had to leave, but this was only the beginning. I fell in love with all the cities that I visited and the people that I met, so I came back to work there last October for a few weeks, then again this January and now I’m planning to fly there again in June. My Erasmus internship gave me a new place where I can feel like I belong and where people are always happy to see me - a new home. And it gave me a chance to find out more about who I am and who I want to be.
I’m finally one of those people whose lives have changed thanks to Erasmus.