The Erasmus Experience
The Erasmus experience, the five month that I just passed abroad in Poland, were the best 5month of my life – and I must insist on that. The only period of this kind I ever had were the six first years of my life of which I have absolutely no memory, a 6-years black hole, that is amazing for a student like me.
I will not lie about having been a party animal in Poland as it is TRUE that my body is still on intense recovery over all the nightclubs and bars I went so many times into. But Erasmus and Exchange Program (EP) are well known for that. It does not mean that you do not work, it just means that you will be constantly overcoming your limits if you do it the way I did: Work… and loaaaaaaaaaaaaaads of parties. Orgasmus is a world that only its members really know – we also called it Narnia.
What made Erasmus in Poznan amazing for me though is utterly different – I mean come on! You can become a party animal anywhere you want if you want to! Through this EP, I have discovered an entirely new facette of socialism of being social and open to others. I met so many people in Poland it became a job to make new encounters every day! If you totally forget the shame and fear of going to other people (ain’t easy if you know me), if you understand that you can bring something to other people and that you can have fun while doing it, then you might discover a huge new world. A social world full of exponentially increasing opportunities.
When I say “bring something to other people”, I would talk about two side of it:
- You come from a different country, you have access to a different culture, different lifestyle and really really easy small talk (you would not believe how many time I heard someone asking me to say something in French or if I ever went to Paris… Btw for us French people, we have not a single clue of why our language is so “pretty and romantic”, even our insults look beautiful to strangers!). You are a mystery to a lot of people abroad, this is your opening for new encounters.
- Who you are: While some might have thought they are like anybody in their home country, when going abroad and actually just by being a stranger you already are different. And this will actually lead to you understanding a bit more about who you are! You have many qualities believe me, being abroad helped me reveal a few sides of myself I did not understood enough.
When you live abroad, you really do live out of your “home” country. “Really man? Do you take us as idiots?” Ok I don’t – not yet. What I mean is that you are not home, and if you never lived out of your main country, believe me, you are living at “home”. Through living in another country, you discover a new freedom, a new land of opportunity. There you will not be treated as a local as you were used to be, you will be treated as a stranger (be it in a good or a bad way entirely depends on you). In any case, you are faced to new rules, try to analyse them as quick as possible! (For example in France, you can cross the road without so much of a worry, whilst in Poland, crossing out of the path or not at the right time would lead to a huge fine to pay.
As you adapt, as you make yourself home, well, you can always use the stranger card whenever you want to! I had a French friend in Poznan speaking polish and working here, even after a year we could see from Polish eyes that he was one feet in Poland, and one feet out of it. Locals will always be pleased to see you as you are someone different trying to fit in.
Back to France/ Post-Erasmus Depression Syndrome
Since I went back to France, I have been suffering from a peculiar side of the Post Erasmus Depression. Of course, I miss everybody, be it crazy Bulgarians, Ukrainians, Italians, Germans, Swedish or the famous Spanish Mafia. I miss going to Pijalnia every time I look at my Homer Simpson trophy. I miss the clubs, SQ, Project lab, the infamous Cuba Libre and its Spanish music… All the events I took part of, Holi Open Air (colour festival), Silent Disco, and the few afternoons in Kontenery…
But that was the contract, 5months and after *puff* everything is gone. For many of the Erasmus people, it is really hard. I have the belief that I’ll be able to meet some of them again as I want to stay abroad so that is how I deal with it.
There is another part though. Now I HATE France. Like really, I mean it. When I came back to Paris, as I rolled down the window of my father’s car, for the first time of my life I smelt Paris’ pollution. That was a first. Then I took the transports, the RER, and met again with all the ever-and-always-grumpy French people. I met the over-insisting homeless people that you only find there and that are in over-increasing numbers. And I came back to the world where everybody understood what I was saying in my home language. I also understood them, I think that was the bigger deal. It was different in Poland of course as I understood nobody, but when I heard again all the people talking alone (go to Paris, you’ll quickly see that everybody speaks alone, everywhere, mumbling over you don’t know what and cursing the gods or everybody else for either their life or not having a sit in the subway) I was so shocked…
Even though meeting again with my friends was amazing, now I only want one thing: Getting out of this country as soon as I can. I want to be living abroad, maybe as a consultant one day, and to travel regularly. I want to see the world and to understand it. Sorry France but apparently you really are not my type!