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Today we will talk about the Erasmus Exchange, together with Simona, a dear friend of mine who has lived abroad for almost two years. Her first Erasmus experience started in Heidelberg, Germany and was then followed by a second one in Lyon, France. In this latter case, however, it’d be better to define it as a double language graduation project. I have prepared a list of question for Simona and I have to admit that I have been really satisfied with all the answers she gave me. Furthermore, I’d like to thank her for bringing me the photos you can see throughout the article. Down below, the full interview.
What originated your desire to live the Erasmus experience?
I have been wanting to do it since my first college year. As a language student, I strongly believed that I have to dive myself in the real world where the language I was studying was employed on a daily level and also have a taste of its cultural aspect. From there, I decided to go for Germany as I felt the possibility to open myself up to a new world.
Being two times abroad, I deduce that the first experience was indeed positive. When was the exact moment in which you decided to fly off a second time?
Yes, absolutely. My first experience was positive. Even after some months abroad, I began to think about the possibility of repeating the experience in another European country for the same purposes I told you before. By doing that, I would also be able to compare different countries with an eye of criticism.
Would you like to tell us a particulare moment that you will always carve in your heart?
On impulse, I would say the farewell moment with all the dearest people I met in both cities. While saying “goodbye”, I re-experienced like a flash all the amazing moments I shared with everyone during that months. The looks exchanged when you know you won’t see each other anytime soon have a double meaning: gratitude and the promise that one day you will meet again.
In your opinion, how these two experiences have changed you?
Actually, I don’t think they really changed me. They were moments that helped me in the path of becoming what I am now. You know, it’s like that what you learn in a life away from your home and habits adds some pieces to the puzzle that everyone represents.
By living abroad for two years, you had the possibility to look at Italy from another point of view, like a spectator. How this changed your perception of our motherland after your Erasmus experience?
On my skin, when I came back from my abroad period, I happen to be in the streets or in public places and starting to imagine my old French and German routine. Of course what surrounded me was different from what was inside my head. After a while, it gets better but at the beginning you simply feel to have lost your Italian habits and pacing. On the other hand, I’d also say that I haven’t changed my opinions about our country. Values and flaws can be found everywhere, not only in Italy but also in France and Germany.
Would you rather suggest an Erasmus project in Heidelberg or Lyon? Which major differences did you notice between both cities?
I loved both cities. Heidelberg is a little jewel hidden in the hills and people say it is the most romantic city across Germany. Lyon is the third French city so I think is more dynamic, I daresay more modern while also respecting its own traditions. The first is very “German” and the latter very “French” but what I want to point out is their common strength: the vivacity that is reflected in the numerous opportunities they offer to their citizens. This includes a selection of cultural events, a good academic offer for students, efficiency in terms of city connection, amusement places…
Most people believe that going on Erasmus is like a trip to la-la-land: fun, parties and very few hours spent on books… Is it that true?
You have the possibility to have fun at parties or going on a trip but you also have to do your best at school because you are probably facing a complete different academic system in respect to that you were accustomed.
Looking back at your choices, would you opt again for these two destinations?
Yeah, definitely. I’m extremely happy to have made Heidelberg and Lyon more “mine”.
In a recent article, I talked about the “Wanderlust”. Do you think to be a victim of it?
Great question! I believed it. I love travelling for sure and sometimes I feel like it is a physiological need for me. But then, I also like to stop for a while and try to build something on place instead of escaping again and rush immediately for another destination.
Do you think that this urge of travelling could also be related to your Erasmus Exchange? As a matter of fact, it’s an experience that opens your mind to new cultural aspects and lifestyles that differ from ours.
Regarding this aspect, I totally agree. Facing new cultures is indeed a positive experience that fill your travel appetite and always helps in reinventing yourself.
Any advice for the wannabe Erasmus students or for the indecisive ones?
Ponder carefully you decision and try to set goals but at the same time take risks and try everything. Being essentially mid-term experiences, it is important to live them as what they are day by day, while keeping in my mind that everyone experiences things in a personal way. Like any other thing in life, there aren’t two identical Erasmus Project and you will be the absolute protagonist of your unique Erasmus!
Undoubtedly, two amazing and interesting experiences. Have you already prepared your luggage?