Does Erasmus do anything for Europe?

When you’ve spent the past few months in a foreign country, getting back on track in your home city can be (or definitely is) kind of tricky. It’s not only the fact that you had a lot of fun and got to experience a different lifestyle that you got used to eventually. It’s also the lack of adventure if you’re returning home in the middle of exam period. The lack of the unknown when you turn around the corner, your mother tongue that everyone speaks in the street.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t claim to know everything about Athens or about Greece. Very far from it! It’s that for now it sounds unadventurous. You will be able to communicate easily and that is great but there is nothing new about it. Sure, everything feels like home, the university library just how you left it and your neighbourhood almost unchanged with the occasional new coffee shop. Maybe this is an arrogant and slightly snobbish statement. And if it is, I don’t mind because I’ve tried enough to live it.

To be more precise, it’s more like a feeling of being torn between two places. You are Greek and you’ve been raised in Greece. Greece is your home and there is no denying it. However, the fact that you got to live somewhere else (in my case France) for a few months leads you to create routines, friendships, an everyday life different than the one that you were formerly used to. You become familiar with a place, you feel at home and then you have to live it. France is not my country but it’s part of me. So are the people I met there, the places I saw and the memories I made. Even though I had to get back to Greece, my home in a sense, I don’t feel as “at home” as I normally would.

At this point you are probably going to ask me, where are you trying to get?

Well, even though I might be feeling like this, thinking about it in a less sentimental way, I can see what was the goal. Except for studying (which was nonetheless more than enlightening), Erasmus has an other aspect as well. To force the students create a “new life” in an other country and to feel the same sense of belonging and closeness that they did back home. That is the point of the Erasmus program. It’s in the hopes of reinforcing the spirit of the European Union and passing it on to the next generations. To me it’s working. Now the only thing that’s left is to implement what we learnt in our own lives back home and in our life, both in the university and outside of it.

The past few years have been very difficult for Europe. Now, with the result of the british referendum pointing to “Brexit”, it’s more than evident that we have to focus in the principles of the Union, both us and our leaders. And if there is anyone that thinks that maybe Erasmus doesn’t do enough for Europe, I can tell you that it does enough for a person than a year of high school. And if we want to change Europe, we need to start from exactly that.

Till next time,

Kleanthi

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