WHAT DOES MOBILITY MEAN TO YOU?
Mobility, Erasmus, Internship, Travelling, Exploring..... The list goes on. But why do we do that? What do we gain out of it? As one human being is different from another, our stay in another country differs in many ways, but there are things we all have in common when it comes to mobility.
Many people were asked to answer this question and the majority of them answered with few words: learning languages, studying about new culture and country, new friends from all over the world, leaving your comfort zone, and trying new things.
Improving languages is one of the best things about travelling and mobility as such. Not only you get better at English because almost everyone can speak it, but also you will learn the language of the country you are in. Some people choose the country with the language they study, but not all of us do. We explore Scandinavia, Balkans, East Europe, Western Europe, South Europe, and the list goes on. English comes in handy when you live in a country with a language that you don't even understand, but what comes next? You need to buy some groceries, do the laundry, deal with adult things, because that is also a part of it, and people there don't always speak English. Well, you learn! Unwillingly, but in the end, you are happy that you did. After a few months in a foreign country, you become almost fluent in their language. Because you have to. This teaches you that you are always able to make it anywhere you end up being.
NEW COUNTRY AND NEW CULTURE
Yes, how many times did it happen to you that you were confused because people told you to take off/don't take off your shoes when you visited them, to toast keeping eye contact with the other person and not with your glass? Every country has its own superstitions, its own values, and its own rules. To overcome the hard times you must observe and learn quickly in order to know how to get along with people from another country. And furthermore, never question their behaviour, because maybe they are questioning yours. People are so beautifully weird, and the sooner you learn to appreciate their weirdness, the sooner you'll be able to learn and grow as a human being. Tolerate and you will be tolerated.
FRIENDS FOR LIFE
This is one of the most beautiful and also the saddest parts of mobility. You travel, you explore, you meet people and you bond with them. This bond is deep and strong and even after your mobility is over you will always be in touch with your friends from a totally different part of the world. You will cry when you will say your "see you later". But this is like a fuel for your new adventure. Because, as soon as you get home, you will start planning trips to visit them and to really explore their countries and cultures.
TRYING NEW THINGS AND LEAVING YOUR COMFORT ZONE
The best part of mobility is this. Every day, you have to do some things that you would never even think of doing at home. Cooking, travelling, dealing with bureaucracy, and even walking the streets or taking city transport in another country is new to you. You leave your comfort zone even if you don't plan on doing it. You learn about new ways of life, because you don't want to survive your mobility, but you want to enjoy it. So go! Try their traditional dishes, eat that cricket (if you are not allergic), go on a hike even though you hate hiking. Reward yourself with something that you would never think of doing. That is the best thing to do when you are abroad. Overcome your fears, stand before people and talk, explain, teach them about your culture and learn about theirs. Cook them your traditional meal and taste theirs. Maybe you will like it and maybe you won't. But you will never know if you don't try.
BECOMING A BIGGER PERSON
After your mobility is over, you will realize that you will never be the same. Suddenly, you have opinions, strong opinions that will change your view of the world completely. And the best part of it is that you will want to be heard by the others. You have become a world/European citizen not just a citizen of your own country. And this experience, this knowledge, this feeling, will make you want to do things you would never think of doing and, believe me. Me and other ESNers know what we are talking about ;)
If you still don't believe a word written in here, maybe you will believe volunteers, who shared their ideas.
Beáta Potančoková (former member of Mov'in Europe International team):
Mobility for me means the world. Literally. It is not just a way to get to know the world, it's a lifestyle that makes you a part of other cultures, allows you to get to know yourself better and become the person you could probably never imagine yourself to be. It's an essential part of education for the 21st century and that's also how it should be treated - being essential and accessible for all of us. Anyway, who wouldn't like to feel like a citizen of one world instead of just one nation?
Adessa Zadia (National Mov'in Europe Coordinator of ESN Greece):
Erasmus provided me such an enriching experience! A whole range of feelings and mindset I just didn't have and couldn't have comprehended in any other way! The influence was so strong and unique, it even got me change my life plans! I could not possibly miss advocating about it and letting everyone knows the life-changing opportunities that are out there!
Simona Radecká (ACC member of ESN Slovakia):
Going on a mobility means a huge opportunity to gain experience, contacts, friendships, and possibilities for your personal growth, enriching your skills and talent, learning about other ways of life, cultures and people, possibility to get to know yourself and learn about the whole world. Any possibility to travel and get to know various countries helps to ruin the barriers and also to find that one thing you want to do in your life.
Fillippo Scotti (National Mov'in Europe Coordinator of ESN Italy):
Erasmus for me is the perfect example of one of the most important rights we have thanks to the European Union: freedom of movement. The chance of travelling, studying and working abroad is a privilege that sometimes we underestimate. Erasmus is a challenge with yourself. New house, new family, new professors and exams in another language are difficulties that make you grow up and be a different person, a better person. Mobility means knowledge, learning new things, discovering new cultures. Knowledge is the only cure for fear, ignorance, prejudices. Knowledge is the cure that the world needs now.
Jennifer Kristen (National Mov'in Europe Coordinator of ESN Austria):
Mobility is what shaped and still shapes me every time. It is one of the major forces that form my point of views, make me understand others and, of course, awakens my curiosity to learn more. It showed me both sides of life, the good one, like meeting new people, and the not so good one, as in missing people from home for example. In the end, however, I would not miss out on an opportunity to participate in a mobility program and would take all the chances I have in a heartbeat – because in the end you only regret the chances you did not take.
Balázs Marton (National Mov'in Europe Coordinator of ESN Hungary):
For most students, the months spent on Erasmus are the most beautiful during their university years. Why so? During your university studies abroad, you can either study, visit new places, gain new experiences and make life-long friendships. The first step is the hardest but after that, you will fly towards the unknown to experience new adventures. Oceanside sunsets, alpine skiing, unforgettable excursions, new flavours and first words in a foreign language that climbs into your ears are part of the most unforgettable experiences you may have in during your Erasmus.
No matter what we do in life, where the wind takes us, we will always carry this experience with us. Erasmus, or mobility, is not only those few months in a different country, it is the experience, the fact that we changed as human beings, learnt so much about ourselves and the others and that we will always want more.