I am back in the Netherlands. After 5 months of studying (and a little bit of traveling) in Milan I am back in the Netherlands and it is great! I almost feel like I never left, which is really weird since it has been almost half a year…
My semester abroad has been challenging, but I am really happy that I went and I would recommend considering going abroad to anyone who has the opportunity. Here are some of my thoughts on going abroad and being an Erasmus students specifically.
The ‘benefits’ of being an Erasmus student
In my university I have not yet had the pleasure of working with Erasmus students in a project. Only with international students who have chosen to do their full masters at my university. Therefor I had no experience with how Erasmus students are treated. When I talked to other Erasmus students, some of whom had been in Milan since September, they told me that as an Erasmus student you have certain benefits. You are more likely to pass a course, simply because you can say: ‘But please sir, I am Erasmus’. It is a weird concept, but true. Simply because you will be leaving in half a year or a year to go back to your own university, you don’t have the time to redo a course and so if a teacher can make an exception for you it is really useful. Thankfully this did not mean that they give you higher grades (I heard that happened at some universities) or you had to do less work, but it did mean that as an Erasmus student you can get more and better opportunities to pass a course then a regular student. So if you go abroad yourself, remember this. Don’t exploit it obviously, but keep it in mind, because it might save you from failing a class by getting another opportunity or assignment to pass the course before you leave.
There are different ways to ‘be’ an Erasmus student
Unfortunately some people use their being ‘Erasmus’ and having less strict rules for passing a course as an excuse to not study at all. Don’t be like that, it is stupid.
However most Erasmus students do study hard so not to worry. They also party hard. I am not a party person, so I might be a bit prejudiced, but Erasmus students party HARD and a LOT. Every city that receives Erasmus or international students usually has a special committee or group who helps these students. In Milan this was called ESN and they organized trips and other things. I really liked this, because it gave me the opportunity to meet new people really fast and I made all of my friends through activities with ESN. However, when they organized a trip, you knew you would see some of the sights, but you also knew that every evening would involve a lot of drinking and possibly partying.
But of course you will always find other students with similar interests when going to these kinds of things. So if you want to party, definitely go on an exchange (some people really live with a ‘what happens in Erasmus stays in Erasmus’ mentality) and if you don’t than there are also a lot of trips organized or you can also meet lots of people in class. But don’t be surprised to party more than you do now :P.
Going abroad is not for everyone
My final thing is that not everybody likes being abroad. I definitely had a hard time and it was far out my comfort zone to be so far away from my usual friends and my family. So just because you can go abroad, does not mean that you have to go abroad. Think about the reasons why you want to go before you sign up. I would definitely do it again, because I think and feel that I have grown up a lot by being on my own in a different country. But if I had known before how hard it would be I might have thought twice before actually going.
I hope these ramblings somewhat help you if you are deciding to go abroad or if this gives you some insight in what it is like to be an Erasmus student. Let me know in the comments below!