Erasmus life during Corona
Erasmus life during Corona times
What does Erasmus mean for me? It is really hard to answer this question. My Erasmus experience has been literally crazy, and full of different and very strong emotions! Let’s start from the beginning….
I’m a proud 30 years old girl, but inside I feel like a child with the whole world still to discover. Three years ago I decided to become a primary school teacher and I started (for the second time) University in Italy. My regret has always been to have never applied for Erasmus, so I simply did, even if a lot of people told me “you’re too old for that stuff!”. And here I am today, in Canterbury (England)!
When I arrived here at the University of Kent everything was amazing! Every day I met a lot of new people from all around the world, I traveled, I had parties (the best ones were in my kitchen – amazing flatmates!), I went to the cinema, I spent time studying in the library (sometimes all the night!), and I slept few hours per night (I didn’t have time!)… One single day here was like one week in my “normal” life, thanks to all the new things I was experiencing. Basically, I was living the Erasmus that everyone expects! But I didn’t know that everything was about to change….
"About corona Erasmus"
One day in mid-March, Niko, one of my flatmates, came into the kitchen saying that he had to go back to the US. The news about the Corona virus had already started to spread, and, especially from Italy, they were really bad. In the UK too the situation was getting worse. Since that day my hell of a week started!
Everyone was scared and worried…we didn’t know what to do, what was better for us, for our health. In a few days most of my friends decided to leave, so every day we organized a last-minute leaving party. I thought a lot about what to do and finally, I decided that the best decision for me was to stay (and it turned out that I was right! J).
This meant that I had to say goodbye to everyone, and believe me when I say that this was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done! I have never cried so much! When your Erasmus starts, you already know that it has an expiry date and that you will meet people whit whom you have to enjoy the moment, because you don’t know if or when you’ll see them again. You are prepared for this. Yet, I was not ready to see one of the best experiences of my life flying away in this way…. I was devastated. It was like a nightmare, and the only thing I wanted was to wake up. By the end of March almost everyone left, the campus was quite empty, pubs, gym, library…everything was closed. I thought it was the end. Yet, I didn’t know that it was just a fresh start.
Turning Corona Erasmus into a fairytale
On the 22nd of March, my new adventure began! I like thinking about this period as a second chapter, an Erasmus within my Erasmus. Luckily not all my friends left and I was not alone here! Francesco, Keriann, and Aylin have been my partners in crime! We had to overcome sadness, anger, and loneliness. And together we made it! Because of the Covid19, we couldn’t travel, hang out, meet other people, so we created our new routine. We spent the day on our own studying, walking, or video calling friends in quarantine. Yet, in the evening, we always had dinner together. Then we played cards or watched a movie. During the weekend we have always tried to do something special and our Sunday brunches have become an institution! I have been eating a lot of plates that I had never tried before and, even if I’m not a good cook, I tried to prepare something new as well. Moreover, what really helped me was to share my experience with other people on Instagram. I created my page @my_corona_erasmus for fun, but I have to admit that it was therapeutic. Every day I had to find something interesting and fun to post, and it all made me very happy! There still were days in which I was angry, but it lasted just the blink of an eye. I can say that, as a wizard, I took a sad and unfair situation and I turned it in a fairytale!
Leaving from Erasmus
Today, while I’m writing, I have a big box that’s waiting for me to be filled with all my stuff. In a few days I’m leaving, my expiry date has finally come. I don’t know how to express my feelings. Ok, I have to confess that I’m crying, but I’m not sad. I don’t want to go back home, but I’m super happy for all the great time spent in Kent. Here I leave a piece of my heart. I’m grateful for all the people I have met! Some of them will probably stay only in my memory, but some others are now part of my life.
My story is not an ordinary Erasmus story. What I have in common with other Erasmus students is the possibility that we all had to meet other cultures, languages, habits, to discover every day something new, to challenge ourselves in a place that is not home. I had more. I hade to live with myself, face the loneliness, stay alone with my own thoughts. In my life I use to “run”; this Covid19 made me stop, it gave me time to spend doing nothing, and I think that this is a precious gift. I had time to think about what I really want from my life, and I’m happy to say that I made some big decisions!
Corona Erasmus conclusions
In conclusion, as you can now imagine, these last 6 months have been a swing to me. Come on, who could have never guess what happened? Not me for sure! But if I could go back I would do exactly all the things I did, because I am far richer than before! I recommend to all of you, my dear students, young or “old” like me, to do an experience like this. It might not change your life, but at least it opens your mind, it makes you explore new horizons and it makes you exit your comfort zone. In a world where we still have to see atrocities like George Floyd’s death, exchange experiences are maybe our salvation, because only if we face differences we can accept them instead of being scared. I wish you all the best!
Enjoy your Erasmus!
The lesson for today: Erasmus teaches you how to enjoy life under any circumstance. It might also teach you a valuable lesson about finding ways and turn something negative into something great.