Hello everyone. I’m Iris Cubells, a 3rd-year student of Journalism at CEU Valencia and a year ago I started what would become one of the best experiences in my life. Last year I had the opportunity to apply for the Erasmus+ scholarship thanks to which I was able to take an academic course in a European country. A decision that, without a doubt, has changed my life.
In my case, I chose Brno and Masaryk University to live this experience. Brno is a small town located in the northeast of the Czech Republic, just 2 hours and 30 minutes from the Czech capital, Prague.
The main reason for my choice was its location: it is in the heart of Europe, bordering four different countries and with access to other neighboring countries. It is an eminently university city, full of young people and with a high academic level.
In my case, I looked for the host university to teach classes in English in order to improve my skills in this language. Another important factor was that the standard of living in this country is quite affordable, so everything fitted in with my initial idea.
The truth is that the Erasmus+ experience begins long before reaching the destination. In fact, everything starts at the International Relations Office of the University with the level test, the long list of destinations, the Learning Agreement and the endless documentation that will accompany you throughout the following year, but always with the help of your Erasmus+ coordinator.
At first, this decision generates a feeling of dizziness, restlessness, desire and even fear. You know that during the next course you will know another culture, you will travel to different places, you will live new experiences and you will be accompanied by many new and unknown people from different countries. However, at the end of the year, the truth is that your mindset will be completely different: and so, one day the year ends that you will probably remember it as one of the best experiences in your life.
EVERYTHING YOU LEARNED, EXPERIENCED AND LIVED WILL REMAIN WITH YOU FOREVER
You learn to value other things; you value from another perspective what you have at home, because sometimes it is necessary to go away for a while to discover what is really important in your environment. You grow, you learn to be a more independent person. But in reality, and perhaps this is one of the most important things, you discover that the city or the place is not the most important part of the experience but the people with whom you have shared great moments and have been your family for 9 months.
I had the opportunity to live in a student residence. The university offers the closest university residence related to your studies. In my case, the Vinařská residence has been one of the highlights of this year. The room was like an apartment: with its own kitchen, bathroom and a small double room that included a balcony. All this for a very affordable price. In addition, it had a student canteen with incredible offers for lunch and dinner.
In my opinion, living in a student residence, with a shared room, allows you to live with different people, be in constant contact with other cultures and customs and help you feel at home.
Regarding the classes, it is true that in some European countries they have a different way of doing things. Very small classes, with a maximum of 20 people, with members who speak different languages and you must communicate with them in English. Teachers are committed to encouraging the participation of students. In the vast majority of the classes there was a practical part (with debates, readings, personal experiences, visual presentations, etc.), which allowed me to improve my English and develop it in a more practical way.
Throughout the week, ESN, an Erasmus+ student agency, offers different activities and parties to get to know other people and have fun. Together, the Erasmus+ friends enjoyed international dinners in which each offered part of its country’s cuisine. We also got involved in different social activities, as volunteers for a day in an orphanage or cleaning the zoo in Brno, as well as other leisure activities such as: bowling, paintball or boat parties.
It is definitely a world of new experiences. If you make good use of your free time and know how to organize yourself financially, you can travel a lot. Why? Because all the people around you share the same spirit and the existing bus and train connections between the different countries are excellent. The perfect combination for a young traveler!
But one day, when you least expect it, everything you prepared a year ago for with such enthusiasm ends. Summer arrives and, with it, the farewell… from my point of view, one of the hardest and most beautiful moments at the same time.
It’s ironic to say “see you soon” to people who 9 months ago I did not know and are now part of my family.
You leave behind many people, many more places and countless moments that will always remain in your memory because, even if the year is over, everything you learned, experienced and lived will remain with you forever.