And so, I started my studies in Applied Linguistics at the University of Ghent, Belgium. I chose the language combination English-Italian. In the third year, as a semester abroad was compulsory, I embarked on a new adventure called Erasmus. After two years of studying Italian and learning about the culture, I was well prepared to study at an Italian University for a semester. Yet, Erasmus has taught me more than I could ever imagine. Not only did I improve my language abilities, I also gained intercultural competences and became more self-reliant. Living on my own in another country, learning about different cultures and forming international friendships broadened my horizons and truly enriched my life. Again my world had expanded.
Like so many others, my international experiences have shaped my life more than anything else. The way Erasmus impacts people’s lives really started to fascinate me, and I decided to write my master’s thesis about this subject, exploring how a mobility period influences one’s (“multicultural”) personality traits. The starting point was the The Erasmus Impact Study, which indicates that traits such as confidence, problem-solving skills, tolerance, curiosity and knowing one's strengths and weaknesses are increased by a study abroad experience. As the world is becoming more globally interconnected, international experience is ever more valued among employers, who attach great importance to these traits.
This concept also forms the basis of the garagErasmus Foundation, which makes it no surprise that I am currently doing an internship at this organisation. After graduating, I felt that I was missing practical experience, as I did not have the opportunity during my studies to do a proper internship. The desire to go abroad again came naturally. And so last September, thanks to the Erasmus+ programme, I departed for Italy again. This choice made me realize how much I have changed thanks to my first Erasmus experience, and how I feel most comfortable in international environments. On a professional level, this internship is a most valuable experience, but it is also adding greatly to my intercultural and personal development. Facing new challenges, making new international friends, traveling to new places… My world is still expanding.
When people talk about their mobility experience, they most often say that it was the time of their lives, and that they benefited greatly from it, both on a professional and a personal level. Erasmus offers people a new perspective on life. Yesterday I read an interview with the Italian writer Umberto Eco, in which he proposes that “the Erasmus idea should be compulsory – not just for students, but also for taxi drivers, plumbers and other workers”. As a language student, going abroad was a logic decision, but I strongly support the idea that no one should miss out on the opportunity of an international experience. All Europeans should be part of the Erasmus generation. All of us should expand our world.