Life after Erasmus
be careful, it has it`s side effects…
When we hear about student exchange, usually we think about new friends, new experience and cultural development. However, you gain much more, way much more. Especially when you get a scholarship of 800€ a month compared to 800 hrn (roughly 30€). Suddenly, you feel powerful, suddenly you can get yourself everything you have always dreamt about, while living in a Post-Soviet country with its habits and rules.
First weeks in Berlin, after leaving Kyiv, I spent haunting for food, new tastes, new products. I felt ashamed for that, but I could do nothing about it. The next stage was devoted to clothing, I have desperately tried to copy the local look, not to look as a foreigner in the city. After finding some acceptable looks, I started traveling.
I have never traveled so often in my life before. One of the reasons for is that in Ukraine we have very expensive flights, as a couple of companies have a monopoly on the market and it makes the prices unbearable for usual students. I travelled every two weeks and sometimes even more often. Once I had three flights (one or two-day trips) every two days. But nothing last forever, even the excitement for travels, cause once I got so tired of exploring the cities, which looked the same for me now, so I skipped my travel to Norway (with the booked tickets and place to sleep). That was crazy, because, in the beginning of my travels I was afraid, that I would not have enough time to travel everywhere, but having visited 9 new countries and around 20 new cities I felt, that it was enough for me. That`s why first time in my life I don`t feel jealous, when seeing someone traveling to my dream destinations. That`s how 3 months of my stay in Germany passed. One more left and I decided to spend the last one living a usual life in Berlin just like locals do…
During this month I went to parties, been exploring local cafes, coworkings where I was studying. I even managed to get to a conference (where the tickets were around 300) as a journalist from Ukraine. I`ve been visiting many open events, connected with it and been to the places, where startups are being founded and developed. I think I`ve been to more than 20 coworkings in Berlin. Spent my time with young, passionate and creative people.
After I went to parties, entrance where costed me like a decent lunch in Kyiv. I looked up the free events on Facebook, that`s how I got to the launch of a new magazine, party in the forest, running sessions with Adidas run club. I found friends in Berlin and been living with them in a good flat (not a students` dormitory) and we`ve rented a car for the night rides and whatever. By that time, I managed German and could speak about basic topics and read the magazines. I learned all the directions and could freely navigate around the city.
I could get myself everything, what I wanted. Tickets to any European country for a vacation, good clothes (more than 50 piece). Of course, I`ve been eager to do that, so at some time I run out of money and had to eat noodles for breakfast and dinner, but for lunch I had the best pizza and ice-cream in Berlin, so I that was rather a choice, than a sacrifice.
Days flew by. 4 weeks of the last month passed very quickly. I went to a conference, been going to cultural events, felt in love, broke apart, been running a lot, partying, shopping, drinking. It was hard to realize, that my time to go home has come. I took a long travel home and now it feels very awkward getting used to my home lifestyle.
Suddenly my income has decreased dramatically (and quite painfully for me). My parents gave me some money, before I find work, but it`s too little compared to that amount of money I had. I feel bad, walking by cafes, shops, where everything seemed so cheap to me just a couple weeks ago. I feel pissed down by the fact, that it`s hard to afford a manicure, which costs a price of one cocktail. This sudden transition from being rich and powerful towards being a student, who hasn`t his own income is crazy! Moreover, I feel so unused to my hometown. I don`t like some places anymore, they lost their magic for me, I became critical at some point. We have some nice cafes, with prices, which are cheap for Europe, but a little expensive for an average Ukrainian, that they stay half empty and I don`t want to go there. I see all those girls in the street, who are trying to make a perfect photo by trying different poses, it all looks so awkward for me now. High hills, expensive cars, check-ins in restaurants, tries to show off, only payed closed events on Facebook. I miss simplicity, I experienced in Berlin. I miss the feeling, when no one cares how you look and where you hang out. I miss the opportunity to afford myself everything I want.
It is crazy, when you come back to the city, where you have so many vivid memories and happy moments, but now you are critical to it and you can`t find your inner peace. In this situation, you can get depressed, thinking that nothing better waits for you, or you can find, the benefits this place, time can give you and do your best. For example, learning new languages, specializations, doing sports, starting your own initiative, working with a mentor to achieve better results in the future, because, sometimes you need an impact from outside to change your usual way of thinking and get new insights.
Everything is possible, even when you are down. Erasmus gave me a colourful demo-version of a life I would want to have, now I need to make certain actions, to get a full version of such a life. This is gonna be interesting, this is gonna be stunning. Promise to keep you posted!