The Erasmus Experience by Scarlett Bertrand

Text Written by Scarlett Bertrand, Erasmus Student

Have you ever seen the French movie “L’Auberge Espagnole”?

Well first if you haven’t and you are living now your first Erasmus experience, I strongly advise you to give it a watch! In my case I did and I suddenly realized I was part of this Erasmus generation. The first time I had contact with Erasmus was when I welcomed international students into my own school. Then one day I left France to take part in my first Erasmus experience internship, which was Santander in Spain.

Discovering Santander, Spain

I was completely immersed for 3 months, working in a shop with colleagues, clients and my boss, who were all Spanish, as well as living in a flatshare with 2 Spanish girls. So as you can imagine, I had no choice but to speak Spanish! I learned a lot during my time in Spain and left hungry for more of this kind of experience.

I had to wait 2 years to leave France again, this time going to study for 5 months in a university partnered with my school. My destination this time was Pécs in Hungary, a country I knew nothing about except the name of the capital, Budapest.

Erasmus in Pécs, Hungary

In my first days in Pécs, I learned a lot of essential things, such as how to use the bus, how to use the currency of forint, how to get a SIM card for my phone, how to tell the difference between sparkling water and still water, as well as learning my first Hungarian words such as ‘egészségedre’, ‘köszönöm’ or ‘jó napot’.

Quickly I understood that Pécs is an amazing city and I couldn’t wait to see what was coming next!

On the first day at the university we had a welcome presentation in a big amphitheater and I was there with 300 other students, all of us here for either one semester or one year. When I looked at them I could see the same look in every eye, curiosity, excitement, hints of anxiety, but most of all kindness. We were all in the same position and we knew it. Soon enough, we would become a big family, filling our minds and hearts with memories lasting a lifetime.

How was the Erasmus experience?

My time in Pécs, of course, included a few classes because yes, we were there mainly for our studies! Classes were in English with different rules and a different way of teaching. We had group work with students from different cultures, which was an incredible experience. Not always fun and easy, and required a lot of adaptation, communication, and motivation to do it well. Sometimes it didn’t work, but when it did, it was magic!

But come on! We all know that Erasmus’ biggest treasure is in the experiences you have out of classes!

What can I say? My Erasmus experience in Pécs was filled with amazing moments with my friends, with a nice hot chocolate in Nappali, my favorite café. It was also hiking up the Nike statue to enjoy the amazing view of the city while drinking a nice Pécsi beer. Sometimes going to the animal shelter and walking dogs with my friends to discover lesser-known parts of the city.

For me, my Erasmus experience would not have been the same without the ESN section of Pécs (International Exchange Erasmus Student Network). They organized parties, country presentations, sports events, trips, cultural events, social events and more. But most of all they were always with us, helping us, listening to us, giving us comfort, sharing their culture, and surprising us with their love for people.

An Erasmus experience to remember

I am so grateful for the experiences I had with the Erasmus program, both in Spain and in Hungary, and the people I met there, it has inspired me to work with others in the situation I was in. I now work with other young people on exchange, hoping to give them the same life-changing experience that I had whilst abroad.

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