Sara Mos, 10F
Erasmus projects are the perfect opportunity to create long-lasting friendships with people from around the world, travel around Europe, learn about different cultures and overcome your fear of socializing in English. A lot of students believe others would make fun of their accents, or simply that they wouldn`t be able to have conversations in English, but I`m here to tell you that these are only intrusive thoughts and they definitely shouldn’t stop you from applying to a youth exchange.
Two weeks ago, our school organized an Erasmus project, in which I got the chance to participate. In this project, a few students hosted people from Germany and Croatia. We were chosen by different criteria, and the teachers were the ones to decide which students stayed with whom.
Fortunately, I was lucky enough to have an amazing girl from Zagreb, Croatia stay at my house, with whom I still keep in contact, although the project had sadly come to an end. We found out that we share a lot of things in common and we enjoyed each other's companionship throughout the week.
Before the project started, I was worrying a lot about how I would get along with the foreign student, if she would like the food and living conditions I can offer and most of all, if we would be able to communicate in English. These fears disappeared quickly after I got to know her, though. The language barrier was not a problem at all, in fact, at some point I wouldn’t even realize that I was not speaking my mother tongue. We got along very well, every night we would have late-night talks about different topics from politics to personal beliefs, hobbies and so on. She loved Romanian food, especially eggplant salad, which she even asked the recipe for.
During this project, the teachers also scheduled a trip for us around Romania, the main points we visited are Sibiu, The Danube Boilers and Bâlea Lake. This trip was a lot of fun because I had the occasion to interact with other people from Croatia and Germany as well. I’ve made great friendships with a lot of people and I learned really interesting facts about both cultures, such as, for example, that Croatians and Romanians have a lot of similar words. We shared our favourite songs and we even taught them some traditional Romanian dances, which they were very excited to learn. We also loved the places we visited, but I was very surprised and amused by the fact that some of the students told me they consider Arad more fun and beautiful than Sibiu.
On the occasion of this project, we also got the chance to change our minds about certain opinions we used to have about each other’s cultures. Some German students told me they weren't expecting Romanians to be such kind and open-minded people, and to be honest I wasn’t expecting to get along so well with the Germans because I used to find them colder than they are.
To be honest, this project gave me an eye-opening realization that teenagers are the same everywhere. We share the same ideas, hobbies and even problems. We are not as different as what divides us.
On one of the days, the students came to school with us and I must say they were very impressed by it. One Croatian boy said he believes our school is even more beautiful than their National Theater. They admired our school a lot and compared it with a museum. They asked me several times “how can this beautiful building be a school?”.
The worst part of this project was the moment we had to say goodbye. There were a lot of tears left and we all had a hard time accepting that it had come to an end.
Overall, signing up for this project was the best decision I could’ve made. I’ve had the best time throughout the week, I’ve made great friendships and I will definitely take the next opportunity to participate in another youth exchange and I encourage every student to do so, because it is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.