An online post I saw just before coming to Germany said: “travelling alone will be the scariest, most liberating, life-changing experience of your life” and, almost 6 months later, I feel it best sums up my Erasmus semester. Despite challenges, especially during a pandemic, I have lots of reasons to be grateful for my time spent studying in beautiful Bamberg.
1. New friends
Although all lectures have been online, the lifeline for meeting new people was an in-person preparatory course for exchange students at the start of the semester.
Thankfully, Germany in October was in a relatively good position in terms of Covid-19, so attending a course in an actual classroom was a welcome piece of normality when everything else was anything but normal. And it also led me to many wonderful new friends from countries across the world.
German is not a native (or easy!) language for any of us, but it’s been the common one that unites us while we are all away from home getting to grips with life in a new town.
2. New words
New words have played a beautiful part in my Erasmus experience. Mainly German ones, of course, but also a whole host of new words from a variety of languages. My German has improved unequivocally since I arrived, especially informally among friends, but also when writing formally and in everyday life.
Bamberg’s practical language learning courses are fantastic, so I was able to take advantage of a great range of courses about German stereotypes, culture and geography. I also took a module in beginners’ Italian, which was challenging but a great chance to learn something new!
Aside from my actual lectures, I also appreciated new words among friends. In fact, we often joke that we need to create an ‘Erasmus dictionary’ once the semester ends. To remember all the cross-cultural words and phrases we have either created or shared with each other during our time here.
3. New mindset
Perhaps most importantly, my mindset is undoubtedly different as a result of my Erasmus experience. After spending 10 years learning German, it was a dream of mine to visit or live in Germany, and it has not disappointed.
Open-minded is something I’d like to think I already was, but my time here has expanded my horizons and increased my open-mindedness with the way I view the world. It’s been a really beautiful experience to have my mind opened to different cultures and people.
One evening, my friends and I were speaking about what we have learned here and what we will remember, and we realised we are actually not all that different or culture-bound, regardless of where we come from or the language we speak.
I can never know how things would have been different if I were here in normal times, but the whole experience has been life-changing and I wouldn’t change a thing. Bamberg, the people and the memories it’s given me will always have a big piece of my heart.