When in Erasmus, every new step should bring a new discovery, but sometimes things don’t go as planned, such as the current situation due to the coronavirus outbreak.
This article presents some thoughts from a couple of Romanian ESN volunteers, who are currently in Erasmus. It is important that during these tormented times, we keep in mind that even from the distance, we are in this together and we share the same contradictory feelings when it comes to how to deal better with the situation.
“Despite the difficult overall situation, I am trying to keep an optimistic mindset towards all that is happening. I have a lot of time to finally do the things that I never got the chance to do, and go back to old passions, like drawing. This gave me an opportunity to prioritize some work that I used to postpone and to finish or start many projects for ESN. Another good thing that brings me happiness is reaching out to my dear ones more often than before, which makes me understand that it is the harder times that bring people closer. This Erasmus experience has been both an adventure and a challenge. Firstly, by being a traineeship and secondly, by needing to adapt to this unexpected situation. I didn’t consider going back home, because I think staying is better for me and the people around me. For sure, this semester is not a loss, I think we should all be patient that after everything passes, we will all get to start again from where we left off. The key thing right now is holding on and being patient that things will get better. ”
Alexandra Taraboanta, ESN Iasi, PR Vice-President, Brno, Czech Republic, Erasmus+ Traineeship
“This Coronavirus time caught me in my first Erasmus in Lodz, Poland. I'm a pretty active person and I was dreaming of travelling a lot during my Erasmus. Well, now my only trip is to the kitchen and back. I attend online courses, I'm trying to do some indoor activities, like yoga or some exercises, now I don't have any excuse for not preparing my body for summer (*saying this eating snacks).
I find it more dangerous to travel back home now, so I decided to remain here. Even though I'm constantly worried about this situation, I know it's a hard time for all of us, so I just hope it will end soon, not in order to return to our usual routine but to start a new chapter.”
Iolanda Bogles, ESN Iasi Volunteer, Lodz, Poland, Erasmus Student
“The consequences of the Coronavirus are tragically visible all around the world, which can only cause panic. In Portugal, the number of people infected is high, which gives us no other option than to stay indoors and hope that it will end. Concerning how the Erasmus life has changed, taking online classes has become the only alternative, I think there won’t be even the possibility of a face to face exam at the end of the term. It is a challenging situation, but I am trying to stay rational about it. I am thinking of going back home because I am not only considering the specific situation of being in Erasmus, but also the bigger picture given by the entire world. It’s going to take some time until this will be over, but meanwhile, we have to be optimistic.”
Alina Vasiliu, ESN Iasi Volunteer, Coimbra, Portugal, Erasmus Student
“What I regret the most about this situation is the fact that I didn’t get the chance to spend more time with the people I met, to enjoy the places around and to have a better insight on the Portuguese lifestyle. The most striking feeling is confusion, because we are constantly torn between whether we should stay or go back home, we are always considering our options and trying to make the best decision. The sudden closure of the universities and the isolation caused a lot of sadness among the Erasmus community. It was only the beginning of the semester and there were so many things that I was planning and hoping to do. In the near future the situation will most probably continue to be difficult, but I’m sure there will be a happy ending and also a return to Portugal.”
Cosmina Pintea, ESN Iasi Volunteer, Coimbra, Portugal, Erasmus Student
“As being in the south of Portugal I was expecting to enjoy the sunny days on the beautiful beaches, but once the situation got serious and we had to stay inside the house, I took advantage of our big terrace to enjoy my morning coffee and a good book quietly. Regarding my work, since I joined the team as a Project Manager, I discovered a lot of new tools which help me and my team working from home. This was a new challenge for all of us but we embraced it and decided to explore new ways of working together, which I think is a good part of this situation and will definitely impact the way we are working.
Funny fact, I arrived in Faro, on the 10th of March and things got serious a few days upon my arrival, but after discussing with my coordinator, we agreed I can continue helping them with the projects and I also decided that, for safety reasons, staying in Faro was a wise decision, which I don't regret, at least not until now. I think this situation has a huge impact on humans at a global level. Since for the last decade, this is the biggest challenge society has experienced, I believe it can be a wakeup call for all of us to get back to basics and our human nature, to focus more on relationships, on communities and on helping each other when facing challenges. Nobody can tell when the world will get back to normal, but for sure walking in a park, having a coffee with friends, jumping on a plane will become more precious.”
Adriana Constantinescu, Alumni ESN Iasi, Faro, Portugal, European Voluntary Project
No matter where the Erasmus journey takes you or finds you, right now, we should all know that the feelings we are all experiencing unify us. We should not lose hope for the happy ending and for going back to making the most of what Erasmus means. We can’t control the way the future will unfold, but we can control the way we respond to it. So, don’t forget to be happy for every memory and hope for the rest of them.