Daniel Lee, Erasmus student in Spain & Italy
I’m writing this blog from the plane home, having now completed my year abroad, and what a year it has been! The amount I’ve done and learnt throughout my erasmus year never fails to impress me.
A large chunk of people studying abroad are language students, myself being no exception. A key aspect to the year therefore is improving and practising language skills. For me, speaking the local language everyday has been so, so helpful and I’ve improved dramatically. Not only have I been able to build upon what I already knew, but I’ve picked up so much vocabulary to help me sound more like a native speaker. It’s also allowed me to take classes of a Master degree level for both Spanish and Italian..
If you are worried about how you’ll to find it - don't! If you already speak the language a bit you will be fine and may even surprise yourself by how easily and quickly you adapt. If you don’t speak the language, don’t panic either. It’s commonplace for the host university to offer a language course to teach you the basics. However, if this year has taught me anything about languages it’s how lucky I am to be able to speak to others from around the world and learn about their experiences and culture.
Before beginning my Erasmus year, I classed myself as an independent person. This past year has been no exception; I’ve managed to do everything as normal, just in a country where very few people speak my language. I have been able to stick to my budget, organise my time efficiently as well as making sure I stay fit and healthy. So what have I actually learned about independence? I think it’s generally a misconception to think that being independent at home will be different to being independent abroad. While it may take some time to adjust, I’ve found living independently overseas to be essentially the same as doing it at home. Albeit the temperature being slightly higher, living costs cheaper and a more relaxed timetable - which surprisingly wasn’t all that hard to adjust to.
Travelling this year has been a huge highlight of mine. I’ve been to new cities like Lisbon, Portugal and Valladolid, Spain as well as numerous places that I’ve wanted to see for years such as Mount Vesuvius, Pompeii and Catedral de Santiago de Compostela. I haven’t spent much money travelling - you really don't always need the most luxurious hotel, extra legroom and more luggage than necessary. A cheap train or plane, a hand luggage bag full to the brim and a cheap hostel or B&B will sort you out perfectly. I've realised it's so much easier and cheaper than people think and if you have the chance to travel, do it immediately.
Without a shadow of a doubt the best thing about any Erasmus+ programme has been the friends I’ve made. During your time abroad, it will be your friends you study with, party with and inevitably carry you home at the end of the night. It’s such a fun experience getting to know students from so many different countries. If I have learned anything about friendships is that you can find friends in the most unlikely of places. I had no idea I would make such good friends with people over such a short period of time. I have an amazing group of friends here in Italy and we’re already excited for the first reunion.
I have learnt so much living and studying in Spain and Italy that will follow me back to the UK. I have changed as a person and matured a lot over the past ten months - I will be forever grateful that this experience has done that. Please, if you ever have the opportunity to do a year abroad, take it. You won’t regret it.