HOW TO MAKE AN ERASMUS A REAL LANGUAGE EXCHANGE
Erasmus, a completely different exchange
Don’t be afraid about learning a new language! One year ago, I decided to start a language exchange and it was one of the best experiences that any student can experiment during his/her college life: the famous Erasmus program.
After passing all the level tests and be part of the process, the key moment came, the moment in which I had to choose where was going to be my home for the next 6 months, and until then, I never realized how difficult this election could be. There were so much different cities and universities: London, Paris, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, USA and even China or Australia.
And I was there, with a thousand of different options and without knowing which one could be the best, thinking about what I should value the most:
- If I should focus on the language exchange.
- If I should choose a city rather than a village in order to deal with the multicultural environment.
- If I should take into account Amsterdam’s university level.
- If the university chosen has the subjects I want and, in addition, that subjects could be validated in my degree or not.
Namely, I was worried about all the academic issues of the Erasmus experience. What could I do with so information? In order to clear my head, I started thinking about the cities I had travelled to among every city that my university offered and I told myself: “Choose a place that enables you to practice English, which the most spoken language in the world, and also a place where you have never been”. Just at that moment I saw it clear: Amsterdam and all the Holland people were going to be part of my day to day life for the next 6 months
Finally, I was about to leave, but until then, I had to find accommodation for all the time that I was going to spend in the “canal’s city”. My principle aim of the experience was to improve my English, and that was easy because Holland citizens are bilinguals and I could learn a lot about them without focusing in their native language: Dutch.
I thought about the possibility of going to a host family in order to improve my English, immersing in the country culture and also being a guest among native people, that probably would cost less for my parents. When I started looking into agencies in order to find a home to stay, I realized that the cost wasn’t as low as it seemed to be, due to the outsourcing of the service of searching.
My second option was to live in a student residence with people from all over the world in order to experiment the multiculturalism of the exchange program.
At the end I chose the second option and I lived a great experience; however, I missed keeping in contact with native people and having a deeper language immersion, because since the first day I met Spanish people and we did a big and also great group but we didn’t join with foreign student so, at the end of the experience my friends and I didn’t live the Erasmus experience completely.
In January I ended the international exchange and, what a surprise when two months after, when I started my internship in myHOSTpitality, I discovered that it was possible to do an language exchange for free and without outsourcing the tasks to another person.
You are the one that select the family, among a lot of candidates, and you contact directly with them setting both, the period of time you are going to spend in the foreign country and the conditions.
The host family offers accommodation for the whole period, facilitating you the possibility of improving your English and, at the same time, traveling and discovering other cultures for free and with a lot of flexibility, because there aren’t pre-settled periods. The only thing you have to do in the language exchange for the hosts, is dedicate some hours in a day to practice with them your own language.
So, what if we don’t wait for the Erasmus in order to live new experiences, clash with other cultures and know new people and with other manners, and we do it as soon as possible?
As Henry Miller said “Our destination is never a place, but a new way of looking at things”