You enrolled in university thinking that someday you would have gone abroad for an Erasmus experience. Now, that moment you have been waiting for, the one you have been dreaming of, that only the idea of made you rejoice, is finally here. Nevertheless, now that you're packing, all the joy you felt before has turned into doubts and fears.
Is that how you feel? Then keep reading to clear all your doubts and rediscover those emotions that led you to wanting to live this experience.
Like you, many students every year embrace the opportunity to leave for Erasmus, and certainly, you are all united by one thing: pre-departure anxiety, which is given by multiple factors. First of all, there is the fact that for many of you this is the first long-lasting experience abroad. Many are used to travelling, but what happens when you have to leave your daily life and your comfort zone to go to another place you don't know? That's like starting over, and this is what scares everyone a little bit. However, I am here to tell you why you don't need to be intimidated by this feeling and don’t have to think you've made a rash decision. Instead, you have to remember why you made it in the first place and why this is the best decision you could make.
Below you can find a list of the 5 most common fears among outgoing Erasmus students:
1. I can't find a suitable accommodation for me
I feel you, I was going crazy. After all the university bureaucracy, even starting a housing search drives you mad. The most important thing of all at this stage is not to get caught up in the rush and calmly evaluate every option. First of all, it is because that will be your home for several months and also because, unfortunately, there are many scams at the expense of students looking for accommodations. So you have to try not to fall just because you need a roof over your head as soon as possible. There are many websites where you can find offers for rooms or even some Facebook groups (in this case, pay extreme attention to scams). Once you find your accommodation and once you are there, don't be afraid to get to know your flatmates and make friends with them. Especially during your Erasmus experience, anyone will be very open and inclined to make new acquaintances. If you were unlucky and felt uncomfortable in that place, you can always try to find a new house while you are already onsite! The university also often provides some tutors to help you. If there are accommodations such as university residences or residences for international students, consider living there because it will allow you fully breathe the Erasmus atmosphere.
2. I don't know anyone
You'll be surprised by what I'm about to say, but maybe this is the best thing. There are plenty of opportunities to meet other people during your Erasmus. Therefore, the fact you don't know anyone before leaving could save your life because in this way, rather than to be alone, you will be more inclined to be open, to speak with people, to know as many people as possible and make many friends. I can assure you that the days when you will feel alone maybe will be the first two or three when you are trying to become familiar with the place. Joining the events of your local ESN section (or those organised by other similar associations in the case ESN does not exist in your Erasmus city) and attending university lessons could be great ways to meet other people. I know that your willingness to have fun will overcome that of studying, but, by attending lessons you will have much better chances to meet even local students and this can be very helpful for both city information and the language. This brings us to the next fear.
3. I don't know the language (and maybe I don't even know English that well)
This is something that holds many people back from choosing to go abroad in the first place. They make the mistake of giving Erasmus up because they think: "I won't be able to communicate there, and I don't speak English so I can't do anything." You have no idea how many people told me something like that when I asked them why they were not going on Erasmus. But you surely aren't one of them. Don't be afraid, because languages can be learned. I'll tell you more, you can learn even better and faster onsite than on books. During my Erasmus, I saw many people leaving without speaking the language and coming back fluent after a few months. Of course, it depends on you and how you decide to spend your Erasmus. If you always stay home or if you only hang out with people from your home country, you surely won't learn any language at all. If, on the contrary, you make an effort to get to know other Erasmus students and - why not - also local students, then your chances to come home fluent in at least one foreign language drastically improve. If you don't learn the local language, at least you will improve your English, which is just as valuable. So, let me give you some dispassionate advice: never speak your mother tongue while you are on Erasmus.
4. I'm afraid to lose my friends (or my partner)
Some time away from your everyday life can also help you understand how real and profound the relationships with those you see regularly actually are. Some time away can show you which bonds are stronger (and ever-lasting) and which ones are weaker. Should you lose some friends or a partner, don't regret it. Instead, remember the good times spent together and be grateful for those who stayed by your side despite the distance. Anyways, you might lose someone home, but you will come back with plenty of new friends coming from all over the world - and ready to host you on your next travels. Moreover, you could even be the one who decides to walk away from some people, because this experience changed you and you realised that you took different paths in life. Who knows.
5. I won't be able to find any friends
I think that's impossible during an Erasmus. It's a time of life when everyone is open to getting to know a lot of people. The willingness to do that must come from you first, so avoid locking yourself at home alone. The first people you can become friends with are your roommates, which was my case. From there, by going to events or just out with them, you'll meet more and more people, and your circle of friends will only expand. In the beginning, also don't shut yourself off if you don't speak a foreign language. After all, there are many other students with the same problem and no one is there to judge how you speak.
So, in conclusion, live your Erasmus light-heartedly and enjoy it to the fullest. Erase your pre-departure fears and replace them with the will to become a different person, enrich your life and discover the world. Trust me, your friends and family will find you a different person after waiting for you at home. Every time doubts enter your mind, remember that this is the best life experience you could ever choose for yourself!
Have a great Erasmus!
Translated by Desiré Merlo and Roberta Sandri