“Erasmus students cry twice”
More and more students take the opportunity and spend some time abroad with the EU exchange programme Erasmus. In so doing, they get in touch with exciting cultures and people. For many students it is the experience of their lifetime. But not everyone feels confindent in the beginning. The students are faced with many questions and uncertainties. Gabriela Jelonek, founder of „Erasmus evening“, takes away their doubts.
Ms Jelonek, in your online radio show “Erasmus evening”, broadcasted on the student radio station Radio Meteor UAM at the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań, Poland, you talked about Erasmus+. Could you briefly explain, what is special about it?
My goal was to develop a radio show, which drives students to take part in the international exchange to get in touch with foreign cultures and languages. The show should educate, inform and entertain at the same time. So, we developed practical information parts as well as exciting interview sections with Polish students studying abroad and foreigners studying in Poland, who shared their experiences with the audience. We talked about various issues, e.g. how to submit documents, how to select subjects and how to find a flat in a foreign country. In addition, we focused on the differences between universities and education systems. Beyond that, all the ordinary challenges of students’ everyday life have been discussed. There is no other radio show like that.
What are the major concerns students deal with before participating in the exchange programme?
The students worry about how to find a flat, if their scholarchip will last out and how to handle exams in foreign languages. In addition, they bother about the exams, which they have to pass when they return home. For people who study abroad, everything is new, scaring and exciting at the same time. But it’s fantastic to see that the students are in the end brave enough to leave their comfort zone and meet the challenges. This welds together, so you can quickly imagine, that people meet their second family. It is said, that Erasmus students cry twice – when they start to study abroad, and when they have to go back home.
Can you make recommendations relating to how to find accommodation, if this is one of the mayor concerns?
Well, it depends on the university. Some of them have their own dormitories. But usually, the students have to find accommodation on their own. It’s good to ask mentors from the local sections of the Erasmus Student Network (ESN) for support, so students helping students. As well, you can find useful information relating room hunting on local online platforms and Facebook groups.
People who spend some time abroad with Erasmus enter into a partnership with a foreign partner more frequently in comparison with people who didn’t take part. Does Erasmus make people feel more European?
I’m sure that’s true! The programme makes students move closer together and help each other – no matter where they come from. They tear down borders in their minds, which are the hardest to break. I know a lot of students who totally changed their mind and realized, that Europe is me, she, he and you – we are in the same team.
You had the opportunity to visit a foreign country with Erasmus. What was your favorite destination and why did you like to visit that place?
I fell in love with Spain when I was a child. I like to dance latin dances and admire the Spanish culture. I really wanted to make the experience how it is to live there and be a part of that country. So, I tried to get an exchange opportunity and started to learn Spanish on my own. Every time, when my university didn’t let me go because of my Spanish level, it made me work even harder, just to reach the goal. And finally, I did Erasmus in Spain!
Interview: Sebastian Kaiser
Erasmus Student Network (local sections): https://esn.org/sections
Picture Credit: Krzysztof Grządzielski, private archive
ABOUT GABRIELA JELONEK
Gabriela Jelonek is a Polish journalist. She holds a master of Political Sciences and she will complete her master of Journalism and Social Communication soon. She has studied at the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań, Poland, and had been abroad with Erasmus twice – in 2014 at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Spain, and in 2016 at the Universidade da Beira Interior, Covilhã, Portugal. Her online radio show Erasmus evening has won the Charlemagne Youth Prize 2017. She is the first person who received this award for an individual project. Currently, Gabriela is working in an editorial office in Poznań, Poland, and for a student radio. She is willing to proceed Erasmus evening. At present, she is in negotiation with different radio stations to continue the project. A traveler and dreamer, she fell in love with the radio. She adores to talk to other people, she’s open-minded and curious about the world and other cultures.