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Time to say goodbye...

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Let me tell you a bit about my last month and a half on my Erasmus and update you on my future plans!
Two girls taking a selfie
My last Sunday - picnic for Erasmus students!

Today marks exactly one month since I left Siena. These words, that I thought would be so difficult to write, came more easily than I had expected. I now feel more than ready to share the final part of my Erasmus adventure with you. I am fascinated by how fast time went by - I swear I was just packing my suitcases and nervously looking for an apartment to stay in Siena a week ago! Even writing a last blog post feels a bit incorrect, since I feel as if I was just at the beginning of my journey. 

Let me start by saying that summing up the whole exchange, sharing my emotions and hopes for the future is not going to be easy. The last month of Erasmus was beautiful but painful at the same time. I cried so many tears that at some point I had none left (and I’m not being overly dramatic). Saying goodbye to a group of people that I consider my friends for life, knowing that meeting up will not be as easy as before, adapting to my life in Poland again… those of you who have been on Erasmus know what I mean and how difficult it can be. But! Without further ado, let me tell you how my last month went by. 

The exams

The DETESTED exam session! To begin with, I have to say that I think the exams were not that difficult and the session itself was rather manageable BUT I was still super stressed out about it. And because I took four courses in fields that I had no previous experience in, I think my stress is rather understandable! The University of Siena lets you pick an exam date at any point after the course finishes so, lucky for me, I could schedule the tests in a way that would let me study for all of them. My main motivation throughout the whole process was the last trip that my friends were planning (more on that later!) and the fact that I didn’t want to retake the classes in Poland. 

A group of people standing in front of a screen displaying a map
One of our assignments was a diplomatic simulation - super fun!

I had two oral exams, one presentation, and one class for which I had to write a bunch of essays, take part in a simulation, and write even more essays. A lot of work? Maybe, but compared to my folks in Poland I was on vacation! Even considering the fact that some stuff I had to learn from scratch (I’m looking at you, philosophy of mind). In the end, I passed all of my classes with flying colours so I could celebrate by going on a…

Big trip with friends

The cherry on top of February, the biggest event of the month - our 5-day trip to Naples and Bari. We knew this was going to be our last big thing before leaving and decided we were going to make the most out of it. Organising a trip for 7 people (some of our friends couldn’t join) was a challenge on its own - finding the right accommodation, the bus tickets, and entertainment . But planning is my big hobby and so, when the time came, we had everything figured out and ready. And the trip was phenomenal! We had a lot of fun, and managed to visit a lot of monuments (Pompei was breathtaking) but also connected even more and made precious memories together. I think going away from Siena was a good idea for us as it made not thinking about saying goodbye a bit easier. We also didn’t want our last week together to be gloomy so Naples and Bari were the perfect choice. And though the last days were emotionally DRAINING for me, the trip made us forget about the future for a bit, as you will see in the pictures. 

I mentioned it before but you really should try travelling from Siena to the south of Italy a go because oh my! The weather in February was stunning (18-20 degrees!), I couldn’t stop eating the delicacies,, and the vibe is just so different from the northern part of the country. For some of us (myself included) this was the first time going so far down the Italian ‘shoe’ and I highly recommend it. 

Smaller events 

When you’re almost packed and the idea of doing anything that requires reorganising makes you a bit sick, there’s nothing better than discovering your vicinity and your city’s secrets. Since Siena is rather small and 6 months is definitely enough to explore it, during my last weeks in Italy I decided to see what else is there to see in Tuscany. I organised a hike to Monte Oliveto, a beautiful monastery hidden near the city of Asciano, went to Certaldo to try their famous onion, and went outside of the city a couple of times to see the beautiful nature. Fortunately, there were some concerts and a volleyball match organised in Siena, so even when the weather was not the greatest, there was always something to do. I hosted two dinners for my friends in February and was a bit mad at myself for not doing that earlier - a rookie mistake that I, unfortunately, cannot undo. My piece of advice: be wiser than me and if you can, host dinner parties at your Erasmus house

Saying goodbye 

The best part about staying in Siena till the end of February was the fact that I had a lot of time to process my emotions and say goodbye to those who were staying in Italy for the summer semester. The worst part was, however, seeing my friends go away and saying goodbye to them - for an unspecified period of time. At first, it didn’t hit me that hard, because the person who left the earliest was my friend from Poznan, whom I knew I would see very often. But then… Then I cried and cried and cried a bit more. My emotions were all mixed up: sadness, hope, fear, and even a pinch of happiness. I didn’t expect that this part of Erasmus would be that hard and I don’t think anyone can predict that. When I was talking to my flatmate of 7 days (she was moving into my old room) she told me she was shocked that I was so sad about finishing my exchange and bidding farewell to my group. I know now that there is a big chance that she will understand me at the end of her program. 

So.. what now? 

Now that I’m back in Poland I have one big goal: I want to maintain the same energy I had in Italy and keep a similar mindset. Erasmus taught me that you don’t need to go abroad or to big expensive events to enjoy life and have fun. Even a small gallery opening can be a fantastic experience with the right people, a train ride 3 stations away from your city can bring joy and a sense of adventure, and a simple walk in the park can change your mood. I’m studying community animation at the moment and let me tell you - I am animating my community very much! 

I’m also grateful because my friends, family, and other close ones have been an amazing source of support and understanding. Without them, I wouldn’t be able to move on and continue living outside of the Erasmus reality. My Erasmus friends did not disappoint, we’re in touch almost every day and we’re planning some bigger and smaller meetups throughout the year so - hopefully - I will see my beloved Kriminals very soon. 

Black and white picture of a group of young people sitting in a bar
Best friends anyone could ask for

With that, I want to thank all of you, the readers, who accompanied me during this exchange. I hope that my story showed you that Erasmus is an amazing opportunity and is worth giving it a try. And for the last time, ciao!