How an Erasmus experience increases the urge to travel

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Open-minded.

As said in my previous post, the Erasmus experienced is over, however, not entirely. Because, as any other experience, leaves an amazing aftertaste and many stories to be told.

Now I am going to focus more on something that an ‘abroad’ study marks people with. That is the desire to travel, to know more, to live new adventures. Some do it only to not be faced with the realization that the fun is over, myself included, and just live in another context what they left behind.

This is because once you are an international student, most certainty you are not the only one, therefore, you meet people from all over the world. And from what I know, in the first month or so everyone deals with home sickness, which makes us describe the beauty of our countries, the history it has and all the fun stuff that it offers. Which makes others put it on their bucket list, if it wasn’t there already.

That’s one way to begin, the other one is sharing the travel stories than some have lived in countries in which you’ve never been before. And so the adventures start. Either you travel with the friends you have made, maybe is their home country, or with the so missed family and old friends, you have the urge to do it.

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I found myself in both situations and went to Rome because I have some friends that spoke about it so nice, even though I have others that told me there are so many other cities in Italy that deserve way more attention. Well, I went there first and put the others on my bucket list.

The second situation had me save money for a ticket to Prague. Yes, I let myself influenced by so many stories a Polish friend of mine told me that I could not ignore it.

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That is exactly what a study abroad experience does to you, it opens your mind, makes you love the memories others share so much that you want to make your own. And then telling them further on in hopes that some one will listen/ read and see how beautiful the world is on their own.

The stories are soon to be told! What’s yours?

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Life after Erasmus

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Sat down in my old chair.

Been back home for a while now. Actually, been home then left again. I am sure that many people whom have experienced a study abroad program or even an internship away from home, have then felt such a urge to travel and discover more. That’s “hunger for travel”.

However, just wanted to write here, as it is supposed to be a documentation of my year abroad life yet missed writing a part of it, how my after Erasmus life went/goes.

My story begins a week before the actual departure starts. When we had our final party and everyone, more in the dizziness of the mojitos, was crying and hugging one another in the hopes that we will get to see each other in this life time apart from the Skype calls. And that last week was like a speed play of everything we planned to do in our year and thought we still had time. We didn’t.

Nonetheless, in just one week we managed to meet, have picnics and share our opinions about all that happened. And in that right moment we thought we will be indivisible, the crew is going to stand straight through all. One week after I left, another friend received an internship in Japan, some others have returned to the so missed friends and families, and others like me have planned to travel more. (Soon to be up)

And so, in my first week home I refused to go out and meet my friends, as I have myself read all over the internet that the “after life” is nice and dandy in the beginning but you get bored after and start comparing with the old one. Trying  to avoid that, even if I have missed them so much, I focused on my travels and the places where I was going.

But as I was starting to lose my hope, a friend of ours that lives in Britain payed a visit and I was so thrilled to take the turn in showing him places in my own town and being me the one that teaches him little secrets about my country.

By that I understood that it takes time, just like everything else, and the real friendships made were indeed a blessing and are going to last, it just not going to happen immediately.That we all are trying to move on and grow, but that doesn’t mean that in time we are not going to meet and now, speaking for myself, I was lucky enough to not know the people from my on country that were there with me, which means extra friends back home, with the same Erasmus memories as myself.

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The many places of Thames

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All sides of the river in different towns.

I have mentioned it in previous articles, but never spoke about it entirely and somehow I fell like I took it for granted, neglect it. I am lucky enough to have the rive on almost half an hour walk, and been lucky enough to see it in London, Windsor and obviously Reading.

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By spotting the differences between these places is noticeable that it doesn’t get much attention in every single one of them. However, the history lover comes out of me and aims to salute this wonderful old river who’s been a staple of England, enduring awful climates and giving people infections and death. Savage!

On a more joyful note, it is more than lovely to have a picnic by the river side in one of the not so common sunny days. A walk near it can be more than relaxing, especially when exams are knocking, hitting, throwing books at my door.

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Didn’t quite realized  that I have seen so many “places” of Thames, but I am glad I did.

Windsor on a sunny day

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In Windsor you look posh, you feel posh.

Been thinking lately that there are almost two months remained from my experience abroad. Looking back I wonder where it has gone?! Yesterday it was September and I was wondering London’s streets…

And so, I was thinking that my lack of participation on this blog, that is supposed to be more than a travel journal, a sort of back up memory of my experience, should be compensated by a steady up to date description of how my last two months and a half materialize. But I got lost in the thought that it will be full of me studying and crying…

Nonetheless, I do have some activities that are worth writing about for my older self.

(and after a long introduction) Windsor! On a Monday morning, called a friend, went straight to the train station and bought tickets to see this small, yet full of history town.

What I loved the most about Windsor was the way in which the modern building could still not be spotted or differentiated by the old ones. It has kept the old buildings where people celebrated queens after king’s birthdays, coronations or decapitations. To be honest, humans are barbarians.

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And even if the fairly new establishments appeared, they are designed in such a manner that one could tell it is the queen’s town. Long field till the castle, people with long boots Burberry scarves and huge Italian greyhounds walking tight and stiff so you could realize that they are above a peasant and that they have probably had tea with one of the royalties.

People know Windsor is a touristic magnet, so don’t be surprised be the assault of shops with post cards, tees, stuffed animals and cardboard cut outs with the queen’s face. The riverside train station is right near the castles so there is no chance for a anyone to miss it. For 18 pounds you could visit it and come once again another time, who knows, maybe you’ll need it.

Also, if you have a neat physical condition you could walk through the Great Park… a life time, I am obviously not in a good shape… and see the statue of King George III as well as adorable deer whom you’ll be kindly asked at the park’s entrance to not get too close.

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Another beautiful view is given by the wonderful Thames filled with boats and swans, and while you’re there, cross the river and visit Elton college, especially if you are a fan of Prince Harry. It could be the closest path you both have ever walked in this life time.

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Speaking of paths, no worries if you are more of a queen’s admire, they took care of marking her way.

 

 

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Here is a very descriptive photo. Enjoy! 🙂

International food

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Best food comes from the insiders.

I am a strong believer in the fact that we don’t truly know a culture if we never interact with its people. This statement went a bit further for me and it moved to a more advance type of love that I have, food.

Now, we all love food, and if you live in a town or city is most likely you have been to at least one that had “foreign” food. However, there is nothing like the original.

Coming back to the previous post I wrote, here is another good thing that an exchange experience bring, food cooked by locals. And by that, I mean students who are excited to show their cooking skill, which makes it twice as fun to put everything together as friends. There is a special something in the sushi a Japanese or in a chocolate cake made by a French girl.Even food that I have never though I’ll come in contact while in England,  the Singaporean one for instance.

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Some might actually resemble a ton to yours, but with a different name or ingredients.

My point is: food is a part of the culture, and there is no better knowledge of it than the source directly. If you really want to know a place, find a person who lived there and it will give you a better insight than any touristic place. After all, those are made to look good and attract people.

Hope you are having a happy Easter! 

Valuable lessons whilst studying abroad

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I could probably write tons of list on top of other list about it, but instead I’m posting just a few.

Let us first begging by becoming a bit personal shall we? And by ‘personal’, I mean going back to a fourteen year old me who has just started high-school and was already thinking of going to Uni in the UK. Loved everything about it… or at least the idea of it. However, reality hits the eighteen year old one, who realizes the sacrifices that not only her, but everyone she depends on, has to make. But the desire and ambition stayed and two year later I have applied for a scholarship. I admit that I was scared to not have my dreams crushed again, so England was my second option. But…fate, or luck, or karma, or whatever and whomever, aligned everything in such a way for me to make it. And I did, and I felt more accomplished  than ever.

But enough about that, or maybe… Now that I think about it, ever since I have never excluded the idea of impossible and went for everything that I wanted even if it seemed unlikely. So here’s a bonus lesson that I’ve learned.

Recently I was asked by one of my friends at home to help him with some advises and opinions about how it is/feel to study abroad. And whilst writing him a response, I have discovered some things that have changed at the twenty one years old me thanks to this.

  1. It gives you more courage to socialize. Here me out, even if you are the most extroverted person, in the beginning the culture will hit you, and if you are a non native speaker as I am, the impact of the language. I’m not going to pass again through how much the English I have learnt and the one from here marked me, but you can find it here. (smooth!)  All jokes aside, I was, still am but not that much, a combination between an extrovert and introvert. As I grew older I became more extroverted is true. However, here I forced myself to know people, to learn about them, after all I have dreamed for five years to have this. And it was way easier than I thought, because everyone else wants to find out more about you and where you’re coming from.
  2. It gives you independence. As a lonely child, I know what a brat, I could get almost every time what I wanted. Then I was brought into thinking that because I am on my own I have to solve things by myself. There was no big brother that could protect me, nor a little sister whom I could blame. Therefore, I had to handle it in my own manner. But I was never the one who every time (get ready for it): did the groceries, the washing up, the laundry, the cooking, the cleaning, the… everything else that prepared me for moving on my own. And I love it! The satisfaction of having done thing all by yourself is…after all the crises done during the chores…amazing.
  3. Lean more that you think you would. As an international student you are told this since the very first day. That you will not only study subjects from a different point of view, but learn about a different culture at the same time. You will learn about more than one. You will not be the only international student, chances are that the university you’re applying for offers opportunities around the world. So prepare yourself to travel while being in the same place, by listening to all the nationalities, telling about yours, celebrating their customs and eating a large variety of food.
  4. Somehow you are the ambassador of your country. I believe that there is no other way of truly knowing a culture, without  knowing its people. Media and internet may give a wrong idea sometimes (let us think about all the unfortunate events that are happening in Europe) so by only talking to people you will learn the true. No pressure on you know, but the way you behave, the way you treat others say a lot about the way you were raised and you’re a sample of your country. I love when people from countries that are shown in the media as ones that dislike each other, are here friends and over those stereotypes. It all about the humans!

That is all for me now. Apologies for the long post, but if you’re reading this at one point in life that it is similar in any type, shape or form, I am more that happy to read about it.

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Cheers! 😉

 

A day at the beach- Brighton

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I have always had a thing for beaches.

As a person who was born in the summer, who is in her element during the summer, it  is almost impossible to not love the sea side. I am for sure one of those people who distresses while listening to the sound of waves. Mainly because in my mind associates it with peace, love, friends and ice cream. And who doesn’t loves ice cream? Now, I don’t claim to not love the mountains equally, as a matter of fact I have made plans regarding them, but my old friend the sea and I share a lot of memories.

That is why when I got to Brighton, not too long ago, I got out of the car  and just sat there for a while, just starring. It was not much to see, to be quite honest, that because it was 10 in the morning and England was foggy. Nonetheless, that did not stopped me. I took my backpack, my friends and all my emotions and landed on the rocks. It marked my first time on a beach that was not a classic one. Meaning, I was not on my usually sand beach and so, I could wear my shoes without a problem.

For a moment everything and everyone went off. My friend’s voice was replace by the sound of weaves and all my thought were drown (get it?!) in old memories at the sea side, the laugh of a little version of what I am today and lots and lots of smiles.

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I had to come back and embrace the now sunny and warm Brighton. Laid down on the rocks simply because I wanted to have that feeling with me, then went to the Pier. If you’re in Brighton, you have obviously spent time to the Pier. Is one amazing place with fun and entertaining games, food and as not most places are, it has thing for all ages. The Pier itself looks like is comes from a pin up era.

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On another note,  the Pavilion is the place to be during lunch time. Especially if the sun shows up, a blanket and a book will make your day. And of course, I will not deny that the lanes and the shopping centre will attract each one of us, and … spend a little.

But at the end of the day, in my case the next morning, we realize that it was perfect, and that we most certainly needed vitamin sea.

 

A day is not enough for London

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Yesterday morning I woke up very tired but also very enthusiastic. I took my backpack full of sandwiches, water and sweets and head to the bus. Obviously, I stayed upstairs.

It was time for me to go and see the city that my young self researched, dreamed of and put it first on the bucket list. I was heading to London.

This is has something hard for me to say and realize. Speaking of realizing. After three weeks in Britain I have finally realized that I achieved one of my biggest dreams. Studying and living in the UK. It hit me in such a wonderful way that the whole day I was murmuring a song, walk like a joyful five years old school girl and had a massive smile on my face. Nothing compares with the feeling of achieving what you’ve wished and worked for so much.

With all that, I have also understood that a day is not enough to see even a half of the famous British staple.

Nonetheless, it didn’t stopped me from doing the usual tourist stuff, like taking a picture into a phone booth (those things stink),
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visit Ben,
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London Eye
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and the British museum.
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The last one itself requires several days of attention so there’s that. Most definitely I have to go back.

You think you know English?

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As a person who studies English ever since I can remember, I thought I can actually put words into sentences and make something coherent. This sort of confidence was brought to me by teachers and all sorts of lost foreigners searching for museums.

My thoughts and my confidence were to be shaken when I landed in the UK.

At first the ACCENT hits me. Nothing bad, all lovely. Who doesn’t like a British accent? Quoting one of my teachers: “What accent?” (think about that one). But then ACCENTS happened. And I didn’t knew whether that is English, what I say is English or every thing I have learned was a lie. It gets better after a while, until of course another one comes along.

The worst part, however, is the slang. A tricky game. In the first part of the conversation laugh if they do. In the second one try harder to understand the context. Maybe even put some sign language reading skills at work.

And if by this time you’re still lost, back up into a corner, search for WiFi and Google it! Because the whole conversation might sound pleasant but they have such lovely words for such dirty talks.

By no means do I say that my English is perfect. Far away from that. Nonetheless, is a clear fact that the Brits have it their own way.

Start thoughts

As previously mentioned in my Genesis, obviously not the main one that would make no sense, this blog is meant to be a memoir (I’ve always wanted to use this word) or maybe it will give some people a perspective on what studying abroad means.
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Nevertheless, tip number one: the things that you were worried about will turn out just fine, but take a look at the ones you don’t give to much attention because for some reason “they’re no stress”.

Tip number two: ask people! Some of them are students just like you and others are just happy to help and maybe find a bit about your culture, as well. And that’s no harm, you’re there to socialize and learn.

Tip number three: look around. No, pay really close attention to what’s around you! You’re in a new country with different views than yours, its culture is reflected in the architecture, people’s behaviour, even if that is driving on the wrong side of the road.

And I don’t write this just so. I have really been worried about my flight but it turned out just fine and my adrenaline loves it. I have been given a lot of thought of how I will do all this by my own, yet the “little things” surprised me.

In some cases I didn’t even had to ask people they will offer to help me and I have definitely refused to let the pavement take my gaze and instead I gave it all to this new British town.

With all being nice and dandy, the fear of a new beginning still remains. Therefore, I will enjoy my nutritive dinner of yogurt and cereals served with biscuits.
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