During your studies you feel that time slips through your hands. There are so many things to do and so many opportunities, both academic and social that by no-time you realise your studies are coming to an end. The same stands for Erasmus exchanges. Before you know it, the 4, 6 and 12 months will be history. Then you will have to go back with a luggage full of memories and a changed person. After your time abroad comes to an end, there is what is dubbed as “post-Erasmus depression”. It may sound weird to some, but apparently it is a real thing!
There are ways though on how to deal with that and maintain some part of that experience with you.
Do another mobility programme
Well, if you liked your time abroad that much and you feel the need to experience it once again this is the most go-to option. See if you can return for another semester at the university you were doing your exchange. Sometimes this is possible or alternatively, pick another country you would have liked to live and enhance your academic and social experiences. Your choices do not need to be limited into a semester abroad scheme. If you feel like you need a different challenge you can try to do like a short-term internship in another country, a summer school or applying for a joint graduate degree programme.
Become active in your university’s student organisations
This will allow you to demonstrate the skills you developed while being away. You can emulate events that inspired you, become part of your local Erasmus/International Student Network chapter, help new incoming exchange students settle in, organise intercultural nights and improve the quality of student life in your campus. Furthermore, it can be a way of staying connected with foreign students and giving back to your university community.
Continue learning that new language
Most students try picking up a new language while on their mobility programme. This can be fun and will allow them to connect more with the culture and improve their social interactions with the locals. Other students select the country they want to do their exchange with the consideration of having the opportunity to practice and improve a foreign language they have already acquired. Once back to your country, you can continue learning that language either by enrolling in a language school or finding a tandem partner. Check if there is an expat community from the country you did your semester abroad in your city. Participate in their events, meetings, and celebrations. It will make you feel more energised, will expand your network and will allow you to keep practising your newly acquired language skills with native speakers.
Find an international job
This links to one of my previous points. Depending on your post-graduation objectives you can opt for an internship abroad, in an organisation or foreign company or you can commit yourself to a longer full-time contract. According to statistics, Erasmus students are more employable and have better chances of getting a good job after the completion of their studies. Managers and recruiters appreciate certain skills such as being adaptable to change, being independent, understanding different cultures and working with people from different backgrounds as well as speaking multiple languages. These are all skills obtained by Erasmus students and will increase your chances of moving faster into employment and leadership positions in the future. If you seek something different and more community oriented you can try volunteering in a European Voluntary Service (EVS) scheme or apply for the European Solidarity Corps.
Organise a reunion
All your memories are lingering in photos, videos and in your mind. Memories of events, places and friends you’ve made while studying abroad. Plus, there is always social media to remind you of all that through yours and your friends’ posts. If you feel that you are getting older but you want to see once more the places you visited and reconnect with the friends you made during that time, you can try organising a reunion.
Probably most of you will be scattered around the globe, working different jobs and having professional and personal obligations. Yet if you schedule it in advance it is perfectly doable, and you will all enjoy it. The most convenient time is during winter, spring, or summer break periods when a majority of your friends will be able to attend. Prepare the logistics, book the flights, reserve your accommodation and invite your exchange buddies to tag along. Walk past the same streets, visit your university, drink in the same cafes and bars, and relive those memories, this time a bit older and more mature but with memories that last forever.
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