Are you sad that your Erasmus experience is over and would like to keep the vibe alive? Are you missing the international atmosphere? Then, doing an interrail trip throughout Europe is my best advice to you.
As one of the winners of the Mobility Is My Lifestyle competition organised by ESN International, I was awarded an interrail trip to five European cities: Nancy, Basel, Heidelberg, Luxembourg and Breda. Throughout this trip, I often thought to myself: “Wow, this feels just like Erasmus.” The feeling you get on an exchange is such a particular one and its uniqueness is what makes it difficult to describe. My best attempt to describe it would be as a mix of pure happiness, excitement and thrill deriving from experiencing new things, as well as a touch of pride for putting yourself out there and challenging yourself. If you have been searching for this feeling, wanting to experience it again after your mobility abroad, then all I can say is that an interrail trip will not disappoint you for three specific reasons.
- The opportunity to make new friends
During my trip, I met so many people. Most of them were from local associations of the Erasmus Student Network (ESN) in the cities I was visiting. If you are seeking to immerse yourself in an international environment and make friends with people from all over the world, then one tip is to definitely join the activities organised by the local association ESN in the cities you are travelling to. These activities are usually free for ESNcard holders, but even if you don’t have one, you usually just have to pay a small fee (a few euros) to participate in these events. Besides joining ESN activities, I can definitely recommend meeting up with ESN volunteers themselves, as it is a great way to get to know the city from a local perspective.
I often stayed in hostels and this also allowed me to get into contact with other travellers. In Switzerland, I stayed at the Youth Hostel by Hostelling International and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who is visiting the beautiful city of Basel. Not only was it centrally located at a walking distance away from the old town, but the hostel was also very vibrant and filled with many young travellers. I met people from all over Europe and had great fun going out with them.
Visit your friends from your exchange
What better way is there to re-experience the Erasmus feeling than reconnecting with your friends in their home cities? When I was on my trip, I got to meet up with my friends that I had made during my exchange in Stockholm, and it was just pure joy. After hearing so many stories about the cities they live in, it was great to finally see what their lives look like when they are back home. This trip has opened my eyes to how easy it can be to visit your Erasmus friends living in Europe by train.
Before interrailing, I used to be discouraged to travel by train as I always thought that the train rides would take a long time, especially if you compare it with flying. But now, after experiencing the comfort that trains offer, I do not mind the longer travel time. Most trains offer Wi-Fi onboard which means that you could work if you have your computer with you or even catch up on your favourite series on Netflix. And, how can you not fall in love with interrailing when all you need to do is look outside the window and experience the beautiful views? The nature I saw whilst travelling through Switzerland by train was just breathtaking.
Just do it mentality
The feeling of freedom. Undeniably, one of the best parts of mobility. This feeling is exactly what you experience when you decide to do a solo interrail trip. Because I was travelling alone, I got to decide on every step of my trip. This gave me a lot of freedom to do exactly what I desired. On top of that, I could not help but have the “just do it” mentality because I knew I was only visiting each city for a short period of time. I knew that I would regret it if I did not maximise my time. So, when I knew I wanted to do something, but it required me to get out of my comfort zone, I thought “why not?” and just did it.
So, if you can’t wait to taste a bit of your Erasmus experience again and have moments when you think “Wow, this feels just like Erasmus”, then an interrail trip is exactly what you are looking for.
The Mobility Is My Lifestyle is a competition organised by ESN, under the Erasmus Generation Participation & Engagement project, funded by the European Parliament, aimed at raising awareness among young people about the work of the Parliament and the opportunities offered to them in the EU, while simultaneously promoting EU’s diversity and cultural heritage, as well as active citizenship and volunteering.