You will never know until you go – by Teresa Diller Erasmus Outgoing student of the University College of Teacher Education Styria
The most precious Erasmus experience I had was meeting many, many amazing people, who opened my mind and inspired me in the way of thinking about life and the purpose of it.
I cannot name a certain event or occasion that happened to me during my Erasmus semester, because every day was a new adventure and I just let myself float, soaking in every moment and every encounter. Most of the people I met through couchsurfing* and randomly on the streets. In comparison to other Erasmus students, I hung out, most of the time, with locals, travelers and foreigners, all working, studying or vacationing in Barcelona. Maybe you are asking yourself right now how I was able to meet a lot of locals and people outside of the Erasmus network?! Well the key is open-mindedness, curiosity, a positive spirit and a will to always be ready to learn from the people who come along your way.
One day I met Marcelo, a chef from Miami, who had been working in the best restaurant in the world called El Celler de Can Roca in Girona for 5 months. He invited me to come to Girona, see the restaurant and meet his coworkers, who all came from different parts of the world. I got to know what kind of dishes a 3 star Michelin chef prepares and it opened my eyes and senses for the high cuisine. I got to eat with him at the best restaurants in Barcelona.
Then I met Santi, a musician from Colombia, who just moved to Barcelona from Australia, doing any job he could get, but always following his dream of making and producing music. He is such a talented singer. I hung out with him a lot and got invited to cool events on rooftop terraces, jazz-swing concerts in smoky bars and bike rides to Costa Brava. He was also the one who introduced me to his flat-mate, a tattoo artist, from whom I got tattooed a few months later. Which leads me to another event: getting my first tattoo in a tiny flat in Raval. I chose the flying owl with me lying on the back, because it reflects my passion for traveling and being independent. But also taking a rest and enjoying the ride.
One phase of my Eramus was the school practice at a local primary school in Barcelona. During this time I was flooded with love by the little human beings surrounded, even though they could not speak English and me neither Catalan nor Spanish very well. We communicated through the international language: body language. I was overwhelmed by the love and affection the children showed me. What an unforgettable experience!
All in all I got to say, that being an Erasmus student and having the opportunity to dive into a different culture made me a different person. I changed in the way I see life and the purpose of it. All the people I met, all the adventures and challenges I faced, made me more open minded and also grateful and aware of what the purpose of my life is going to be: living it to the fullest, being happy without regrets and never stop exploring this planet called earth, because traveling is not a reward for working, its education for living.
*For all people who do not know what couchsurfing is about: You go to a stranger’s house, in a city you have never been before and literally “surf” his/her couch. This stranger, called host, will show you around and give you recommendations on where to go and what to see. In return you exchange your culture with him/her – it’s about cultural exchange, you don’t pay your host with money but with stories, interests in his/her life and kindness.