There are many opinions about Erasmus/placement years and all these similar programs. This opinion is formed by people who have an experience from this, people who doesn’t know anything about it, people who just imagine what it might be like. But even so, we can’t speak for someone else, we are not the same about everything. So I think that the best way for someone to have an opinion about it is to try it by themselves.
THE GREEK VERSION
Yes, going to something like a year abroad is fun, good, amazing. But it’s not always so peachy, at least not for everyone. It differs from country to country, or it depends on your university/school. While on a conversation with my friends in Greece, I realised how different is for them to go abroad, rather than from my university in England. In general, the educational system in Greece is not very good, in my opinion, but let’s not get into the details here, this would become a whole book from my point of view. For me it’s more simple. My Erasmus year is an extra year, meaning I don’t have to undertake any modules (apart from an online one that includes the blogging which is fun, the CV which you either already have it done, or at least you know what to do with it, and a poster which is simple too), meaning if my university is 3 years I will do it 4 years. Going erasmus is like taking a gap year. But for the students in Greece is not a gap year, they are in erasmus and “in” their university at the same time, that means that normally they need to pass both modules in their erasmus university and their home university, which is not possible and they end up have more modules for next year and so on. So, my point is that most of them won’t go for it, because it’s too much trouble.
Some people just don’t want to do it. It’s totally respectful. But for me it’s hard to understand. I’ve heard people say that they don’t want to go abroad because they are afraid to live in a different place, all alone, far from home, far from friends, with a language they don’t know. I guess it’s normal to be scared, but isn’t excitement above fear? Doesn’t everyone wanna try something like this? I mean it’s an amazing opportunity. But maybe that depends on what you want to gain from this experience. I remember when I first left, from Greece to England, I was not scared of any of these. I wanted to do this my whole life, and my excitement was beyond high. I was the happiest person! I left with no care at all. But maybe it’s because I can adjust easily, I don’t know. Now coming to Spain for 9 months was again, one of a lifetime experience and I don’t get why everyone won’t do it.
Now, I see it as “your university pays you to go abroad”. I know the funding is not enough to cover everything but it’s quite the help you know. And it’s a nice move they do. It’s a big deal to have funding on something like this. They give you money so you can go out there learn things at a school, discover new places, live in a new place, make friends, find love, or hate love(either way it’s good), make new contacts. Somebody gives you money, no matter how much, and you won’t go?
MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE
There were two main and important reasons why I did want to do this Erasmus thing in the first place. Firstly, as I have said before, I needed a break from the university pressure, I needed to practice more, become better, learn more. Last year it was tough for me and I definitely needed more time to prepare myself for my final year, because hey, if last year I was spending almost all of my days in the library, the 3rd year I will be living in it, I will consider go ask for a key. The second important reason was that I wanted to try live in another country. As I always had this thirst of live abroad, and find new places, this was a good chance for me to try Spain, Valencia to be exact, and a great opportunity of finding myself, figuring out what I want, what I like.
Then, another reason that might sound stupid is that I needed to be in a warmer place. I like winter, some cold and things like that but me, I can’t live without sun and heat. And since England was giving me hard time(especially when Spring is nothing but winter) I decided to be in a so called warm place, even though this year it was the coldest year in Spain. Sun is my oxygen (sun+coffee+music).
Agua de Valencia! This is something I will make the whole summer. It’s Valencia’s famous cocktail. And it’s good, it’s gonna be a reminder of my living here, whenever I make it. I wasn’t partying so much to be honest. I was spending most of the times studying, but of course I was going out some times but rarely especially the second semester. I prefer to go to bars and not clubs, clubs are nice sometimes, bars are good all times! The city is so beautiful and alive. There are people on the streets, eating, drinking, smoking. The nights, especially the weekends everyone’s out. It reminds me a lot of Greece.
Something that I miss and love so much! I don’t know it feels like home here. From the plants, to the people, to some streets or just the feelings. And is that an indication that I should consider move back to Greece after my studies end? I don’t know. I would like to try France next to be honest but I don’t know what would happen next.
I miss my friends though, so much. They say you find new friends, and that’s totally true, you make some amazing friends but the ones you were together since kindergarten it’s hard to replace them and leave far from them 😦 But yeah you definitely make really really good friends on a year abroad!
One important thing that happened this year was that I had “more” time to travel to see my favourite bands. I went to London and then Berlin, for All time Low, Waterparks and SWMRS, and You Me at Six, The Amazons and The Xcerts. I was so grateful this year! The best part I will see You Me at Six again in Greece on the 31st of August, it will be the best summer finale! 🙂
Then there are the subject I had during my stay here. I was introduced to a new software (Rhino), (Product Design), there was an International project and that included a mix of things. From visual communication to an installation and an exposition we did. Then it was the illustration workshop where I illustrated a book and it was so much fun! Then it was the Technical skills workshop, that was a painful and lovely module. It took all of my time, it was so much pressure. But it was good because I learned so much about drawing by hand, and I found out I love ink, watercolours, and temperas.
So this year gave me more time to think of my final year in Coventry University. Gave me experience and strength, self esteem. I feel a bit more ready now. And these technics I learned, I can totally use them for next years project!
While many things change like, new things I learn, I would say my style doesn’t really change, it just adjusts with the new technics I learn. It’s always this dark, emotional, dramatic, lonely, sad style of mine.
FAMOUS LAST WORDS
An eventful school year is about to end in 9 days. Happy? Yes and no. Oh don’t get me wrong I’m glad I won’t have that pressure on me, obviously, and I’m so happy I’m going home, I missed it so much, I missed my friends, my family, and I miss going back home for more than 15 days, and I know it’s gonna be a great summer and all, BUT, I’m kinda sad I’m leaving too. It was nice here! And it’s hard to leave behind not only people but a place too. So yeah I might be sad on the metro on my way to the bus station, I might be sad on the bus ride to Barcelona Airport, I might be sad on the airplane on my way to Munich, I will feel better at the airport while watching Gilmore Girls(again), BUT I will be smiling on the airplane on my way to Thessaloniki, AND I might have some tears in my eyes when I see my city shining from above, AND I will definitely “die” when I will go down the stairs of the airplane and breathe the air, and let’s hope the heat and not rain!
🙂 🙂 🙂