Becoming an Erasmus student is a proof of courage and a great desire to meet new places and people outside the comfort zone, especially if it’s about the first experience of this kind and and one doesn’t know what to expect. For Raquel, the semester in Romania meant not just a novelty, but an authentic story full of characters, places, memories and self development. How was this chapter of life for this Portuguese girl, did she find the adventure she was looking for?
How is it like to be an Erasmus student?
Being an Erasmus student is being someone who wants to broaden their knowledge and challenge themselves. It is being courageous and adventurous and wanting to grow personally and professionally. In my opinion, life begins when we leave our comfort zone and I think to be an Erasmus student means to feel you are not from that country, but at same that means to feel that something inside you belongs there. When I came back to Portugal, I think that I left a part of myself there such as the experiences, the people, the places and the moments that I will remember for sure and that I will tell my Portuguese friends about.
What determined you to choose Romania?
Five years ago, my brother did one semester abroad in Romania, exactly in Cluj-Napoca and he told me that it was a really good experience. And my objective was to discover a new country where I’ve been before. I didn’t want a cliché experience like Paris, Berlin, Brussels, Madrid, Amsterdam and so on. In general, I use to prefer Eastern countries, because they are a bit different than the others, so I decided to choose this one.
Was it hard or easy for you to integrate into the Romanian education system?
It was easy. I am from Portugal and we have similar education system, although in Portugal it’s a bit demanding. In Portugal, I’m studying Communication Sciences and in Romania I had different classes from different courses, although it was good to meet different people even if the classes were in Romanian.
Did you visit any places besides Cluj-Napoca?
Yes. Unfortunately, not as much as I wanted, but I still visited a few Romanian cities. My first trip was organized by ESN for Iași, it was on the second or third week, and during that trip we saw some places on our way from Cluj-Napoca to Iași like Voroneț Monastery, Moldovița Monastery and Red Lake. My second trip was to Bucharest with some guys that I met on the trip before. My third trip was for four days, when I explored Alba Iulia, Sibiu and Brașov on my own and it was my favorite because I met wonderful people at the hostels and on the train. And since I was alone, I had to interact with someone else, even to ask for information about places I wanted to visit there. In my last week, went to Sighișoara and Oradea with an Italian girl from my dorm and it was interesting as well. I was also to the Tarnița Lake, near Cluj-Napoca.
How was your dorm experience?
I think the best thing I did was to choose the dorm instead of a flat. I created a good friendship with a lot of people, but specially with my roommate. I learnt how to share my things, to divide the space and to respect the others (doing less noise during the night, cleaning the common spaces and so on).
In the dorm, I used to cook with my roommate and sometimes we did it with more people from the dorm. I recommend choosing the dormitories, because it’s easier to create good connections with others and to get to know more people.
How do you describe the last semester in a few words?
Unexpected, fun, interesting and challenging. I have no doubt that it was one of the best decisions of my life. Basically, it gave me the chance to find out/ discovered myself.
What did you like the most and what didn’t you like at all?
I really liked the landscapes and the gastronomy. I did not like the restaurants and pubs services, the staff is usually unfriendly and very slow. Normally the services are not efficient.
What will you remember forever?
The people I met there and the experiences I had.