I am getting very nostalgic. And emotional. Maybe it’s because I graduated this Spring and in a way a lot of things are ending. Or more likely it’s because I just finished my seven season rerun of Gilmore Girls. Wherever these sappy emotions came from, they’re here now and they’re here to stay. At least for a little while.
So, this is why I suddenly decided that it’s time for a love letter. A love letter to the Erasmus+ program. Due to which I actually wrote and posted my first ever love letter this year. But this is another story. Ok, focusing back on the Erasmus+ program. That journey started in August 2015 when I moved to France to study in Audencia Business School in Nantes. And it ends this semester when I graduate and finish being a buddy for the Erasmus+ students who came to study at EBS. In a sense, ever since coming back from France my Erasmus+ experience has not stopped. It has continued and gotten more amazing as time passed. And this is why I thought that I’d share it with you guys, too.
Jumping back to August 2015 when Estonia had stressed me out and I was dying for a change. And then it suddenly was time to quit my life here and start a new one. The first week I was safe and sound staying at my family friend’s, Laurent’s, house – full French bliss with the addition of a lovely cold (for some reason I am extremely sensitive when the airplane ventilation system is concerned). And then it was headfirst into the unknown.
Anyone who knows me knows these two things about me: I am very independent and don’t scare easily. The first week there I wanted to come home terribly. It was sad and I was pathetic – me, who loves to be away and by myself. But you see, it was raining every day and I didn’t have an umbrella, which obviously is ironic since I’m Estonian and rain is almost a daily sight here. I was sad and reading in my apartment for four days until Leisi (one of my best friends) sent me a video, explaining in a helium voice that if I can’t do it then no one can. So, for the sake of mankind I went to the centre – soaked wet when I arrived to the store – got my umbrella and got myself back too.
More of me reminiscing about my semester HERE. And since the other article is quite thorough I want to sum up my official Erasmus+ experience in France with this paragraph:
While being there I got to experience the simmering-cotton-candy-smelling rain, meet people who had no perceptions of me, make friends for life and to find myself. For people who think I am the same since I came back I say that you must not know me that well then. And truthfully, it made me realise what I want from life. I had to dig deep, go through terrible things that made me stronger, to get even better memories that made me forget the bad and to get a different perspective on my life.
While stopping with most of the dramatic parts here, my life continued on in Estonia, as the 2nd semester of the 2nd uni year started. Some of my friends and family had also started EBS when I was in France and made some exceptional international friends while I was gone. Already dying to meet them because of all the stories I had heard, the start of my friendship with them itself was a slow process. It pretty much happened in April, when Kathi wanted me to write about my semester abroad for the Ebster and got so excited that she made me excited too and an incomparable bond started. We shared so many memories in those few months and I even got to meet our lovely English Rose Kiran (pronounce the Estonian way). With 3 ladies our girlboss group happened and reading Kathi’s letters (yes, she wrote me multiple letters on actual paper!!) always brings my focus back to the things that are important, remind me to enjoy and chill more when I’m overworked and they eventually taught me to let things go when before “I made a career out of reminiscing” (yas, Drake, I love you).
I started Autumn 2016 running The Ebster and being in the International Club. That semester, 60% of the time felt like I was doing my Erasmus+ semester again. I was mostly surrounded by an international crowd rather than Estonians, and being part of a team, organising awesome trips and events for the Erasmus students. We bonded quite well, with some more than others, I got to host them in my country and we tried our best to help them feel at home here. While one of them brought changes and dared me to do things I would never have even thought of. Countless nights with boys cooking real Italian food and outstandingly healthy Rimi pizzas and chicken nuggets with 2€ Bellissima wine from carton box…it was an adventure I was not expecting in a thousand lifetimes. And it was a hilarious one.
Due to some of last semester’s revelations this semester has been filled with many travels and I suspect that the rest of the year has many more up its sleeve. I have had more time to spend getting to know what Erasmuses really love about Estonia and have had six of them on The Ebster team, which has evolved its viewpoint immensely. I valued working in an international team already in France, but doing so here, in a NPO teaches you a lot about people and shows who you can really count on. During the Haba Gala Victoria (EBS Student Council Vice President 2016/2017) made a joke that our SC team members would be excellent recruits for start-ups. And then quickly shouted that we’re taken. Telling us later, that when we’d create a company among our group we would make a killer start-up team since most of us are crazy workaholics.
I’m full of joy because of these past experiences and they have changed me, as solely my own Erasmus+ semester already did. They’ve shown me that there is so much that I yearn to see and do. I have learned to be sure of myself and that opening yourself up to awesome opportunities, sending that vibe out to the world, you get back much more than you could have expected. Erasmus+ has entirely changed my life, in all the categories: education, mindset, work experience and personal life wise. Though they might not be as easy as having everything based only on and in your motherland, I am convinced that they grow you a million times more. And fill you with love.
Lastly, I want to thank Kathi, whom the Erasmus+ program brought to Estonia and who brought The Ebster to me. I now proudly, as its past mama, am giving it over from one Liisa to another, completely sure of its future success!
That was my love letter, including a bit less emotions than the actual Valentine’s letter did. But you should get the point, and that’s the only thing that matters.
As cheesy as always,
Photo: Triine Tamm
Editor: Katharina Binder