Somewhere in Europe, 16th of October 2014
I am writing to you to…
I am contacting you with regards to… No, forget about that: it’s too formal…I shall start again. You see? I am so nervous about this I can’t even make words come 'out of my mind' properly. And I promise I am 100% awake and sober! #GoodErasmusplusStudent
So…here we go again!
It so happens I found out that your network of beautiful people just turned 25 years old today! What a beautiful age to be, right?! Congratulations on that! I really hope you will get to read my message, since I know you are so busy all the time making an awful lot of people unbelievably happy. But let me tell you a secret: we the Erasmus+ students want to make your people happy too!
First of all, allow me to wish ESN a very warm ‘Happy birthday!’ You must, of course, be aware by now that your 13,000-member-or-so network is partially, if not entirely responsible for the reason why everyone seems to know you so well and love you so much! You may be two years older than these guys, but they are your most valuable 'minions' that keep your outstanding reputation alive! Since I bet you should know your team quite well, I would like you to send them a message from me: 'May your dreams of getting more people together and beating another baby record come true! May you bring countless smiles on so-many-to-become-one-of-us people’s faces! And last, but not least, may you prosper over the years to come by continuing to do what you know best: turning this gigantic world into a better place to be born, grow and live in!'
I’ve actually decided to write to you such a straight forward message because of my recently joining the tens of thousands of naïve, fearful and excited students’ lot, who chose to leave their comfort zone for a while and dare to explore the world. I know I may now come across as a cheerful and worryless human being, but I can assure you that was not the case a few weeks ago. As soon as I left my home country back in September I knew things were going to be tough...at least at the beginning: I was a new kid in a new place with nothing to do - it didn't seem to look anything like my initial idea about my would-be Erasmus+ year abroad. Luckily, everything changed when I met your friends: yeah, the very same ones that celebrate their birthday today! To be honest with you, I've never seen such an enthusiast-driven, selfless and continuously-smiling group of people before! Well done! These guys, who by the way are volunteers, offered to take us under their wing and make sure we were feeling comfortable enough in our soon-to-become brand new home country.
The truth is we the present generations have so many things in common without even knowing each other: we all have our dreams and aspirations, we all want to be given the perfect opportunity to make them come true and we all want to do everything right now. And guess what your part is in all that? YOU make this kind of things happen. You, our dearest Erasmus+ buddy, together with your younger sibling ESN, give us the right pair of wings to fly higher than we ever expected, the right amount of motivation to aspire for more than we ever thought possible, the crazy courage to engage on a pro-mobility lifestyle and the burning desire to inspire others to embark on the same turbulent, yet highly rewarding journey as we did. Thank you for that. And thank you for believing in us.
The experience of joining ESN is more than just making lots of friends, meeting new people and having fun. It is mostly about interacting with people coming from all over the world and building long-lasting friendships with them, which are only bound to thrive in time. It is also about learning to adjust to a new culture and adapt its habits and customs to our way of being. It is about OUR chance of starting all over again in a different environment and also succeeding in coping with all the external pressure coming from our assignments, our 'overwhelmingly social' social life and constantly-worrying-about-us family, our new discoveries and…well, our constant lack of sleep! But we only get to be Erasmus+ once (or twice if we’re lucky) in our life, right? So the advice I would give to all the Erasmus+-es out there, including myself, is to live the chance you are giving us to the fullest!
I should probably put an end to this, before my message becomes even soppier than it already is. To put it all in a nutshell, Erasmus+ dear, it’s been 25 years since ESN first started changing lives… And I really wish these amazing people would never have to refrain themselves from doing that! THANK YOU, guys, for making our Erasmus+ experience matter!
All the best-est,
A naïve, fearful, yet overly-excited Erasmus+ student
PS: Once Erasmus, always Erasmus! We are Mov'in Europe!
Written by Madalina Cretu - ESN UK Publications Specialist and Erasmus+ Student in Southampton, UK.