Something in us changes during the exchange, and it feels like the person who returns isn't the same person who left on the journey in the first place.
It does not just feel that way; it is true. We do come back different, we do grow during the exchange. Here are a few ways an international exchange influences us, offering conclusive proof of this post-Erasmus change.
After completing an exchange, we are more inclined to acquire social and cultural capital.
By spending time abroad, we increase our curiosity about other cultures. We want to know more about foreigners and we are not afraid of moving from one country to another. We are more flexible culturally because of this interest in other cultures.
We become more independent and we grow personally.
Going on an exchange makes us much more self-reflective. It strengthens our ability to confront changing environments, and it helps us get to know ourselves better. We face challenges we have never faced before. We can see who we are through the differences and similarities we observe within other cultures.
We increase our proficiency of foreign languages.
When you go to another country, there is usually no other way to communicate than in a language different to your own. You have to use languages which you may not have fully mastered. But practice makes perfect or, in this case, exchange improves proficiency. What is more, we don’t just improve the languages we already know - we often start learning a new one!
Our employability is improved.
Going abroad for a semester or two is usually linked to an increase in qualities which employers look for. This means you are open to new experiences, you can be independent, and you have at least some intercultural sensitivity (and that last one is especially valuable to international companies). Speaking more than one language doesn’t hurt either.
Surprisingly enough, we do not become more pro-European.
Studies have shown that going on Erasmus, surprisingly, does not affect our pro-European sympathies as we already were pro-European before the exchange. It turns out that the Erasmus+ Programme attracts a certain kind of person: those who support the European Union and its core values.
Going on exchange is a real chance for personal growth. Each exchange experience is a study into who you are and what you want. The good thing is, going on this journey does not just help you see these new aspects of yourself, but it also gives you the power to both face changes, and make changes.