And how to make it yours, too!
When I heard for the first time I could go abroad during my studies, I was definitely not a big fan of living in another country for half a year. I thought it was a bit scary, a big responsibility and I had a boyfriend at the time, so it didn’t seem like a good idea. But there was one thing that totally convinced me: I could go on a real adventure! (And travel and party a lot, of course.)
And that’s why I went through with it. I chose the middle way and stayed within Europe. I had to be somewhat different, but not that different, so I went to… Vienna, Austria.
Moving to Austria
A classy, flourishing city with a very well recommended university – this had to be the perfect place! And I could work on my German (very important). Ok, but I had to pack for five months. Five months. That is: Winter, Spring and Summer. Normal people would pack one suitcase and that’s it. How many did I bring? Three.
Indecisiveness is a real pain in the, let’s say, behind.
Luckily, I wasn’t alone and my mom and sister travelled with me. Then, after a few days, they left and well, I was alone. Reeaally alone. That first weekend was confronting, but I got a real chance to discover the city on my own. (And to explore all the different take-out options. The sushi in Vienna is great, by the way.)
Then it was time for the notorious ESN introduction (did you know ESN has over 500 local sections within 40 countries?). I was lucky I already knew one girl from Utrecht, so we could do all the social stuff together. It was a hectic and fun week, but I have to admit that I was kind of tired of being socially active all the time. Sorry, I’m just a bit lazy sometimes. You’ll understand.
My ‘second’ hometown
All of my hard work payed off, because I made friends easily from all over Europe. Before I knew it, I had this great group of friends who did everything together: we ate, travelled, shopped, partied and above all, just shared our happy moments. It sounds a bit cliché, but it just was.
It felt like I would never leave, but of course, that moment came way too soon. Nobody wanted to go and we felt really weird to say ‘farewell’. We had to go back to our normal lives and everything would be the same again – only with a ton of great memories in our (three) suitcases.
The Erasmus Experience
How I would describe my time abroad? The most relaxing, fun and energizing time of my life. I made some really good friends and really fell in love with the city. I could definitely live there, like, forever.
One of the things that made this experience so great was all the travelling. I went to Berlin, Budapest, Prague (two times), even Malta (to visit a good friend and actually one of our Board members, Beaudine) and went all across Austria (even skiing!). So don’t forget to go beyond the borders of our beautiful Utrecht, and pay a visit to Amsterdam/Rotterdam/The Hague/Groningen/Belgium/Germany as well! Luckily for you, ESN organizes a ton of great trips. Make sure you’ll go on one of them!
A crazy and fun Erasmus, that’s what I’ve had. And I hope yours will be too! Take chances and step out of your comfort zone – or you’ll regret it.
(And if you’re curious: I still meet up with some of my Erasmus friends, but it’s not always that easy with the… distance and stuff. However, it’s good that we can hop on a plane every now and then.)