A slightly different Erasmus experience

What is the best part of doing an Erasmus? Probably the fact of being in another country, meeting new people, travelling and just experience things you usually don’t do at home, right?

Sometimes your life can change so fast and take a totally different direction, you didn’t expect to go before. I guess the Covid-19 pandemic hit us all in a different way. Some people continue the same life as before and other people have problems to survive… 

I will tell you now which effects it had for me. I was in Croatia since October doing my Erasmus, when everything started. I finished my first semester, all the exams, was traveling to Bulgaria and Turkey in February everything was still as usual and normal. The virus was slowly spreading in Europe. On the 2nd of March I came back to Croatia from a short weekend trip to Munich. My sister, her boyfriend and a friend came with me for a visit. The same day the university started again. Everything was so normal. We were just enjoying our life. The next weekend we were traveling to the coast to Rijeka. We had an amazing time, just enjoying the moment and actually we didn’t really think much about the whole situation with the virus. I came back to Zagreb on Monday and as usual went to the faculty. Everyday the most important topic to talk about was the virus. 

In Italy the situation got worst and also in other countries the lockdown started. I think in Croatia people were still following their daily life, trying to stay calm and not panic, what made me feel safe. But already on Friday the 13th of Mach the University of Zagreb published that all classes from Monday on will be online and for the moment for two weeks. Honestly, from this moment on I didn’t really know what to do and what was the best thing to do. This day, I firstly helped my sister, her boyfriend and the friend to find a way to get home to Germany again. 

Meanwhile two of my good friends who were with me in Zagreb decided to leave directly and go home to their families. The next day (Saturday) I was talking with some friends and asking my family what I should do, the whole situation was just too much for me. So, everybody advised me to go home as long it is possible. I decided that I will pack my stuff and leave Zagreb on Monday by train. But Sunday morning I woke up, seeing a message of a friend who is telling me to pack directly my stuff and take the next train, because Slovenia will close the borders by midnight. I directly started to pack all my things and talk to friends to leave some stuff at their place, because I knew, if I leave, I will totally move out of the dorm. Everything was ok and I managed to do everything and being ready to leave with the train.

But then at some point I got a message that my train got cancelled and at the railway station they told there were no trains going through Slovenia in direction to Germany… I got quite anxious and again I needed to decide something new. Then I needed to take the last option to go home, because bus and train wasn’t possible anymore, so I booked a flight. 

Totally against my moral attitude, because this was supposed to be the year when I don’t fly at all, but well today I accepted the fact that this was the only way to go home again. So, I took my stuff in the evening, moved out of the dorm and took a taxi to the airport. Probably one of my last conversation in Croatian I had with this kind taxi driver, who was optimistic and telling me that everything will be fine. I stayed the night at the airport. In the morning then I took my flight to Frankfurt. I think I can not really explain my feelings before the boarding. I can just say that I almost cried because I was sad to leave Zagreb, which became my new home and I think I just couldn’t realize what was happening. 

My mum picked me up from the airport and it felt really good to know that I am safe and surrounded by people who can take of me. It is just really nice to know that you will not be alone in such a difficult situation where everybody is kind of lost. Now already 6 weeks passed, since I am at home. I do my classes from Zagreb online. 

Everyday I have my language class from 2,5 hours on Zoom. I must admit that it is going well so far, and it is almost the same we would do in real classroom. The other classes are all quite different, it really depends on the teacher. In total I have the impression that it is a lot more work than usually. Probably the teachers are thinking that we have more time now to do homework, read literature and write papers. In general, the time is passing really fast and there is always something to do. 

I don’t get bored like many people in times of Corona. As well I was really impressed how fast the University of Zagreb managed to organize everything and it is working. I mean sometimes I am thinking about the fact, that I was supposed to be in Zagreb, and it makes me sad. Especially about the fact that I was planning to do so many things during the summer semester. Now I sit in a small village in Germany and doing my Erasmus with online classes what sounds like a joke and is kinda funny when I say it. I really hope during the next years there will be again the possibility to go on “real” Erasmus projects, which are not just online.

In the end, I need to say that I can be happy that I have the possibility to always come home to family, have a safe and warm place, a bed and food to eat. Unfortunately, not everybody has this choice. It is sad to see what the pandemic is causing and that other crises in the world seem to be forgotten like the refugee crisis, climate change, famine and so many more… I think we should realize and learn from this crisis because the virus is affecting everybody, it doesn’t matter from which country, poor or rich, which gender and so on, we should all help each other. Everybody who is not affected by the crisis should look around and try to help other people. Show your solidarity and leave no one behind!

By Jessi