Like most people say, Erasmus for me turned out to be the best experience in my life, but unlike others it took me a lot to get to being able to say that.
I started my Erasmus in Germany pretty nervous, I’d been learning german for about two years so living and studying in a world dominated by a language I struggled to understand certainly scared me, my anxiety too struck at regular intervals due to the overwhelming nature of paperwork for studies, accommodation, finance ect. Thankfully my friend was there to welcome me at the train station, to take me to my accomodation and to ease me in, the sun shined that day, as it did often there and the people were extremely friendly.
I spent the next few days preparing uni work, and moving from emergency accomodation to my actual room, it was new and nice and it was from there that I wrote most of my work and blog posts, I enjoyed wonderful flatmates and a lake/ park as my front garden, compared to rainy Britain this place really was paradise. I visited my cousins in switzerland nearby, they took me to the mountains and I visited france.
The difficulties began in small trickles, from miscommunication to flat out incomprehensibilities, whilst my work in politics improved over time, my studies in Philosophy floundered, I couldn’t understand the waitress in German never mind Heidegger and Kant, the lessons became impossible and my notes yielded no clues, neither did the revision notes we were given, half in german and half in latin…wonderful.
So I struggled to keep up, with the ECTS points system meaning I had around 22 hours of classes over the course of the week, most of which were incomprehensible to me. My first exam was in politics, as with all to come, no dictionaries were allowed for the translations. It was at this that I felt most powerless, I became so stressed that I mixed up ‘before’ and ‘after’ despite numerous lookings over, this made many questions seem ridiculous and it was only until after the exam when I had settled that I realised. Mistakes like this labelled me as someone whom did not do well.
To add to that I began to stop being able to sleep properly, sleep became a blink, lie down and blink, four hours passed feeling that nothing had happened it turned days into months as I felt that i’d done nothing more than close my eyes for a moment. It was around this time that my relationships with other people broke down, my closest friends got less and less contact from me and I stopped going out, my long distance relationship broke down as each skype session became a fear, a stress that brought me no joy, I couldn’t share my world with anyone. Losing that kind of support felt necessary but hurt deeply and only entrenched my problems, I stopped showing up to classes on time and had many tearful phone calls home.
My anxiety began to peak when my erasmus loans stopped coming in properly due to a banking error with my money in flux and over 24 URGENT emails in my inbox for ECTS paperwork I decided I’d had enough, I couldn’t handle it, Philosophy in german was too tough, the paperwork overwhelming, despite the most beautiful settings around I’d began to drown, so I sent an email telling my teacher I couldn’t do it, my health was suffering.
I don’t remember what convinced me to stay, all i remember is that I was told I could just take more philosophy back home to make up for it. I began a night time ritual of press ups whilst watching a youtube channel, both things brought be relative peace of mind whilst each morning I kept the blinds open so that I’d be greeted by the sun to encourage me through the day. I found a love for different types of music and piece by piece I began to rebuild myself.
My friend began to experience similar problems and we worked well together with bottles of wine and movie nights, things to relieve the stress. Eventually I met some people whom I became closer with and paid less heed to the paperwork, it certainly wasn’t the best idea but the work got done in the end, the changes I’d made to myself to go through erasmus enabled me to succeed in studies the following year and enjoy the summer in Germany to it’s fullest, something I’ll never regret.
So to summarise “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times” and I still suffer through the same issues that arise during anxiety and stress but I feel all the stronger knowing nothing can contend with what I’ve already dealt with and that experiences like that are worth it.
Edit to followers: I hope this post explains my absence from wordpress for so long, I’m thankful for every notification given whilst I was writing this blog last year, It was stress relief in itself and I hope to continue now I’m more able.