It is said that every situation in our life is assimilated according to our personality, that two people can look at the same thing and still see something different. Following this idea, we wanted to know how similar or different can two Erasmus students see the same situation they are going through. In the last article, Alexandra talked about her Erasmus experience during the pandemic with all its ups and downs. But what does her colleague and friend, Rebeca, say about the same semester in France? Let's find out her story!
How did you expect the Erasmus experience to be and how did it actually turn out, describing each situation in three words?
Rebeca: I expected it to be full of interesting courses, challenges, and traveling. In reality, it was as challenging as I expected it to be, especially the online courses, but as it turned out, I only had to reshape my perspective in order to see my dorm rooms’ backyard as the most unexplored destination on earth in order to enjoy “some traveling”.
What was the most difficult aspect you had to overcome?
: I had a real problem with the online courses. Focusing for a long period of time listening to your professors talking through the medium of a webcam is quite challenging. For me, human contact and interaction while teaching is paramount! Hence, having to interact with your students through the medium of a screen is not what I would call “real interaction”.
What were the little things you could still enjoy during the isolation period in a foreign country?
: I started to enjoy the little things more such as: my little evening walks, my trips to the supermarket (to be honest, there is nothing a good French pastry cannot fix). I became more self-aware of my surroundings. The neighborhood became my oyster as I started to photograph every window, every door, and every house. Having enough time to read and talk to my friends back home also helped me during those isolation days.
Were there any fun facts regarding an Erasmus expericence during the pandemic?
: Of course! My first story is related to online classes. At one of my favorite courses, I had to turn off my camera in order to go get a snack and the professor asked hastily the whole class where I was. That was not the first time he caught me snacking. Needless to say, I was constantly snacking. My second story is related to the day when I played the ukulele for the very first time. My neighbors turned their music so loud, like they were telling me to put down the instrument and shut up. To this day, I still wonder whether they turned up the music because I was annoyingly playing the ukulele and singing....
How was the overall university experience for you?
: My university experience was paved with lots of papers. I worked very hard from the beginning of the year. French people take their studies very seriously from the very first class. (That was quite surprising for me) Until the lockdown started, I had mostly finished all my assignments. Moreover, I could have never chosen better courses. There was such a varied palette of courses that familiarized me with: the world of cinema studies, popular culture, the history of Great Britain, American civilization, the infinite dialogue that takes place between Arts and Literature. The epiphany of my experience as a student here came through a theatre course. It was the moment when I discovered what topic I wanted to explore in my dissertation.

What were the most important things you have learnt during this semester?
: I learned that you have to:
- Go to France, oddly enough, in order to rediscover your passion for Irish and American Literature.
- Enjoy every little thing, even if it’s a sunrise at 5:00 AM, in the morning, that you are watching from your window of your dorm room apartment, while listening to the crystal-clear chirruping of the birds.

-Be thankful for every little thing, like a letter from your family that you surprisingly received in the morning.
- When everything feels too hard to do, talk a walk, clear your head, and get back to your papers, because every first draft is a bad one.
- Last but not least, stay curious! The world may be closed, but your internet connection is at high speed, and there are many, many, ways to learn new things, and overcome your afflictions.

What did you like most and what did you really miss in the last months?
: I was very surprised of how friendly the French people are! We have this misconception in Romania that French people are really stiff. This was not the case, all the people I have encountered, were really friendly and ready to guide a helpless Erasmus student. The professors were very prepared and I had the opportunity to learn some new teaching methods. As for the thing I missed the most during the pandemic days, it was my university experience and the whole package that came along with it. I had a hectic schedule that I only started to miss when I was deprived of it: from the early morning classes to the friendly and helpful colleagues.

What do you want to do first once you get back to Romania?
: I would like to hug the people I have missed a little tighter and get my driving license to get back on the road again, and start exploring even more.


Written by: Cristina-Elena Talpoș