Get Beyond Your Limits!

The Erasmus+ Programme is a European funding programme established in 1987 offering university students a possibility of studying or doing an internship abroad in another country for a period of at least 2 months and maximum 12 months per cycle of studies. Erasmus+ now offers the possibility to go way beyond the European borders as well.

 This is Birgül from Turkey. She did her Erasmus study in Spain and she is currently doing her Erasmus internship in Portugal. Let’s read how Erasmus affected her personal, professional skills. Please inspire us with your experiences Birgül! 🙂

What was your motivation about Erasmus? Why did you want to do it?

When I started to the university in Adana/Turkey, I heard many people talking about Erasmus exchange programme. Therefore; I wanted to learn more and started to search about. In my first year (I was quite inexperienced :D), I made a presentation about Erasmus and had a chance to know more about it. During that presentation, I told myself that I should improve both myself and my English. Now that I was presenting this to other people and trying to inspire them, it must have been Birgul doing this first! So I did it. Twice!

So you did both Erasmus study and internship. Can you tell us the main differences and main benefits of them?

Yes, I did my Erasmus study in Valencia/Spain and currently I am doing my internship in Porto/Portugal yet it’s about to finish. One of the main differences is that you cannot skip a day while doing your internship because you are working actually. During Erasmus study, it is possible to fall asleep in the morning since you have been “partying” a lot lately. Secondly, if you work in a small company which is my case now, you can’t find many people to socialise. As you know, you have plenty of friends, lots of fun whilst doing your Erasmus study. Also, since this internship is after my graduation, I am more nervous about the future unlike my Erasmus study. It’s a personal issue, but I believe if someone is doing his internship in another country after graduation, he will have concern for the future. Yet, doing your Erasmus study, the most important thing is to have fun and find the cheapest food in the city. To start with the common benefits, it is amazing to meet new people from different countries, explore new places (it is more possible to travel during Erasmus study) and improve your English. During the internship, you also enhance your skills in your area, have many more ideas about your profession which is awesome!

Your study was in Spain and your internship was in Portugal. Do you have any special reasons to choose them? Which country would you recommend our readers more? Why?

I was drawn to Spain for its language. Since I studied English Language Teaching, I wanted to learn another language and Spanish –to me- is one of the best languages. Also, I already knew that Spain is famous for having so much fun so I was eager to prove that! 🙂  Back then, I was already planning to do my Erasmus internship but I had only 2 months left. When I was in Valencia, I traveled to Porto. It was early in the morning when we arrived with my friend and the first impression was amazing! I told my friend that I would do my internship here in Porto even before visiting any places in the city. She tried hard to deter me from this idea since we were actually planning to go back to Spain for the internship. 🙂  Also, Portuguese is quite similar to Spanish. That’s why I thought it would be easier for me to learn another language. Yet, it is much harder in terms of pronunciation, but I will manage hopefully! I don’t know if I can recommend one of them because both experiences can’t be anything but awesome! (I am thinking…) Both countries are great and it is very hard for me to choose. But for your career in the future, i believe learning Spanish will have a positive impact, so I guess I would recommend Spain.

What is your first impression about Erasmus?

When I first arrived at Valencia, I didn’t have an accomodation and I was desperate at first. At that time I noticed that I could overcome many things, since I was away from my family and friends. With no help, no internet  we somehow managed to find a place. So I can say that my first impression is that “Erasmus helps you to get beyond your limits!”

Have you ever faced any obstacles before/during/after the mobility?

Oh, yes.. I mentioned finding a flat since in Valencia, we didn’t have a dormitory or a flat supplied by the university, so we had to do everything on our own and there was no “Erasmus buddy” to help us. Also, I had to study English filology there, so it wasn’t my department, that’s why I had to take more lessons when I went back to Turkey. Also, as you know in Spain you should be really careful. I was careful but it wasn’t enough apparently because I got my phone stolen.. It was a hardship since I had to buy another phone. But now I am even laughing when I remember those days since I learned a lot. For instance; my phone is still with me here in Porto!

What were the challenges if you specify?

I guess I mentioned before but I want to add one more challenge : FOOD! I don’t remember having a lunch/dinner in a restaurant in Spain. I just noticed after being in Portugal. Especially in Porto, you can have lunch for 5 euros including beverages! In Spain, for 5 euros, you can eat 3 Montaditos(small sandwiches) and drink one drink which is not bad but less healthy 🙂

Which skills did you acquire after Erasmus?

Ability to live with little amount of money which is quite important. Also, communication skill! Before Erasmus it was really difficult for me to communicate. Yet, I believe I improved a lot!

If you had a chance now, would you want to go somewhere else for Erasmus? Why/Why not?

As an Erasmus, wherever we go, normally we are never regretful. So I wouldn’t choose another country for sure because I love these two countries! People are helpful, friendly and fun! Everything is fun fun fun! At least as a non-Spanish, non-Portuguese. Also, the weather is nice (I remember swimming in Valencia in November). The languages are important to me. Food in Portugal is good :)

Can you please describe us the positive impact of Erasmus to your professional career?

I improved my language a lot during my Erasmus study in Spain since in Turkey I didn’t have enough chance to communicate in English. Yet, being an English teacher doesn’t mean that everyone who can perfectly speak English should become a teacher. Teaching is more than being great in the language. Therefore; now during my internship I am learning new techniques, approaches, games that will definitely help me while teaching! I am glad that I am here.

Thank you Birgül for answering our questions! Hope this interview will enlighten our readers about Erasmus!

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