“Erasmus Experience: The Person Who Goes Is Not the Same Person Who Returns”, talk by Ylenia González Rodríguez.
Ylenia gently offered us the last Small Talk session of this academic year at the EOI. She is studying a Degree on Lenguas Modernas, Cultura y Comunicación, and she absolutely has a knack for communication, since she used a nice English along with an intelligent sense of humor to get into rich detail about her Erasmus experience in Belgium. Her talk left little behind, for the whole information was perfectly arranged, while she was so honest to show us both the bright and the dark sides of her stay.
First, Ylenia talked about the requirements, costs, fees, and procedure to apply for an Eramus Scholarship, about the facilities where students are hosted… technical information mixed with her personal feelings and points of view. Then she explained why she chose Belgium, or why she wanted to study abroad.
On the bright side, she mentioned the friendships (these special fraternity arousing when students are alone in the same place and situation), the fun, the parties and travels; but also growing up by facing, for the first time, the daily duties that her parents usually do to run a home. Ylenia now appreciates how coping with all this stuff has made her be more grateful, responsible and aware of the importance of earning a living.
On the dark side, she remarked the loneliness during the first days when you have not met yet the other mates, the fears of apparently hostile scenarios, dealing with a highly demanding University there, or handling the same prejudices that Europeans have for Spaniards.
So, it was fun to see how Ylenia confirmed that yes, we Spanish people are so different from our neighbors; not so serious, but easy-going and fun. Bullfighting is also still there, and we could just let it be. But there is a perception we should think about: why good manners, like speaking quietly in public places or correctly addressing a teacher, were abandoned in Spain when they are still so important for the rest of the world. We are not worse than the rest, and however, we are badly misjudged because this rude first impression.
Having lived this blend of feelings and experiences, Ylenia absolutely convinced the audience, as she had promised, that the person who goes is not the same person who returns. We have no longer the military service, nor the gap year they take in Britain before University, but we have Erasmus to live, as Ylenia did, one the most exciting lifetime experiences.