How do I know? Because I’ve been there. I’ve had a 9 months long Erasmus journey for myself and since I had such an amazing time in the beautiful city of Torun, I feel like I’m experienced enough to give you a few tips on making this journey unforgettable. I’ve seen so many people who didn’t even care to leave their rooms in this limited time that was given to us and for the future generations. I feel like it’s my duty to give us some tips to keep you away from staying in a room forever. I’ll give some tips, however, it depends on you to learn from them.
Well, you may not be aware of it but Erasmus starts way before your plane takes of, according to that, here is my first tip for you;
#1-Don’t Have Any Expectations
Okay, so you’re done with all the papers, learning agreements, you planned what to take with you and you started to lay on the bed all day dreaming about the next few months. Don’t, I beg you, please don’t. Before I went to Torun, I only knew that I’ll meet people from all around the Europe and have some good time, travelling and that’s all. I didn’t know I’ll meet extraordinarily sweet people from Latvia,France, Poland,Spain, Portugal,Russia, Croatia, Germany,Italy, Bulgaria,Romania and from beautiful Poland also let’s not forget that I met amazing people from my own country Turkey. I didn’t expect any of this, I didn’t dream about the events and parties we went all together, the times we shared traditional food of our countries with each other and I seriously didn’t think we would cry together as much as we laughed. So, listen to me carefully, just go there and be open to the everything you can experience, you’ll be surprised.
#2- Learn Polish As Much As You Can
I think we made it clear that you’re going to Poland where all the people can speak Polish. You might feel like you’re living in the dream but you need to go shopping, recharge you phone number and pay for other things which makes it necessary to know some basic Polish. Of course, one way or another they will understand you’re a foreigner who is requesting a plastic bag with your broken Polish. However, it’ll take you a few minutes to memorize some words and the smile on people’s faces when they see you trying, it’s one of the things that made me smile everyday. And be aware that they can correct you, so it’s another way of learning. It was one of the best decision for me to learn this rich language because, it’s the most successful way to make Polish friends, My motive was to wish people good day, good evening and wish them and good time at work If they were working. I’ve met amazing people thanks to my broken Polish and had so much fun. The more willing you’re to learn, the more enthusiastic they are to teach you some more Polish, who knows, that way you can have life long friendships and more.
Also, try to be one of them, try to lose yourself in the crowd, try to reply in Polish and see how much fun Polish people have when they realize you’re not Polish,this will make your day, everyday. In my experience a few times people mistaken me as Polish(It was so much fun!) One day I was on a tram and my phone fell down on floor, a guy two seats away from me shouted something in Polish showing how much he was worried about my phone. I picked up my phone from the floor and said “Nie ma problemu” which means “No problem” in Polish. I think he was an exciting person so he continued to talk to me therefore I replied with “Tak” which means “Yes” and I smiled all the time. In reality I didn’t understand anything but he was having fun so I was okay with it. He said “Goodbye sunshine!” in Polish when he was leaving the tram and I replied with a smile again. Seeing people smiling already made my day that day let alone connecting with people in Polish even If I don’t understand. Don’t forget though, a smile always works, even If you don’t speak the language.
#3-Go Everywhere, Attend Everything
Yes, we all know that Erasmus means loads of free time and you have so many things to do in the city of Torun.Let me tell you, staying in your room is a waste of your precious time you have there. DON’T stay at your room more that 10-12 hours a day, get enough sleep and discover everything the city provides you. Follow ESN events, stick with your friends who forget how to go back to dorm because they were to occupied with having fun(I was one of them, no regrets). Don’t be the person who regrets not doing something that you wanted but couldn’t because of your laziness. Your bed is always there, but your time is limited. Oh, let’s not forget you have classes too.
#4-Hug Your Mentor and Never Let Him/Her Go!
What is a Mentor? I hear you asking. A Mentor is someone who is volunteering to give guidance to you in general. But we can’t play by the book on Erasmus, can we? In my experience I think I was the luckiest among the Erasmus students and you can not imagine how “Mentoring Program” which made me and my mentor get together affected my Erasmus experience (Shout out to my lovely mentor, Cześć Paula!). Let me tell you how it works;Firstly, your mentor sends you an e-mail so that you can add him or her on facebook. After that, you start contacting but it completely depends on you that how your relationship will develop because mentors are already helping you for free, you can’t expect them to chase you If you don’t take a step towards them.I took a step towards my mentor and she took two steps towards me, it was that easy. It is, for sure, one of the most important tips on making the best memories. so keep a good contact with your mentor and meet him or her in Torun. Your mentor may not recognize you at first sight but it’s okay, mine hugged me when she realized who I am(Kidding!) and we started a life long friendship. We laughed together, we cried together, we drank and ate together. My mentor was with me when I had the best fun and I can’t be more grateful for that. I even had the opportunity to meet the people who made her the person she has become. I am extremely grateful that she trusted me enough to open the doors to her life, I’ll never forget that. Trust me, it is so mesmerizing to find out that you can be best friends with someone who doesn’t speak your language. I can’t guarantee that you’ll get along your mentor right away, and he or she will be the best among all (lucky me!), but I think you should at least give it a try, because I owe it to my mentor for making this journey unforgettable and you can have that chance too.
#5-Embrace Your Friend Who Has Come All the Way With You
You may not be lucky to have somebody you know on your way to your journey, but If you are lucky enough, you should understand how valuable is to have someone you know with you when you’re facing all the new challenges. I hear most of the people saying, “I want to practise English as much as I can, I’ll meet new people, It’s a great opportunity, my friend X and I won’t see each other there anyways.” This is so wrong, my newbie reader, this is so wrong. I geniunely know that you are going there because you were willing to leave your safe-bubble zone you’ve lived in your whole life but especially If this is your first experience, being alone out there, besides the fun times, it’ll be quite tough to get through hard times.
In my experience, I was so lucky to have my friend with me all the way. (Shout out to my wonderful bromance, Selam Halit!) Even before we left our country, we faced all the challenges together and supported each other no matter what. Erasmus might seem easy to have been through, but trust me there were some challenges. Me and Halit, we got sick together, we got angry together, we got sad together, we got confused together and we celebrated our happiness together but most importantly, we had an extremely satısfying Erasmus journey together in which we had limitless fun and used every single opportunity that beautiful city of Torun provided us. The key point here is the fact that we were there to calm each other down when one of us was angry, we were there to listen each other when one of us wanted to speak.We shared food together but Halit cooked most of the time (I promise I’ll learn to cook, sorry Halit) We even shared antibiotics when the weather of Poland got us sick. An deven now we’re going through Post-Erasmus Depression together and it’s comforting to know somebody understands you for real. For sure, you’ll survive alone one way or another but having a company who understands you all the way is priceless and I’m extremely grateful for that. If you have this chance, learn a lesson from my experience and you’ll be grateful too, trust me.
#6- Share and Care
My last but not least tip is to be yourself. Share your culture, act as you’ve acted throughout your whole life. Share and care as much as you can. Socialize, get to know people. What can you lose? I didn’t lose anything, actually I’ve gained so many wonderful people from all around the Europe and the best fun was sharing our culture verbally, in food language or in our acts.This opportunity has been given you to discover as much as you can so share your wisdom so that people around you can give you their wisdom to care about. You.2ll be surprised how much it can widen your perspective about the world. Especially If this is your first Erasmus experience, you’ll realize you were living a life that is so limited and you will want to be limitless.