Skip to main content
Erasmus may last a semester but it for sure changed my life forever.
First name
Country of studies
Mobility destination
went on exchange in
Full text
“Don't say that people who went on Erasmus get jobs because they know languages; language learning is beyond secondary. A student who goes on Erasmus comes back as a different person, you leave as a juvenile and come back as a grown-up, in addition to the most important thing of all: on Erasmus, you learn to smile in all the languages of the world” This quote from Sofia Corradi, the so-called Mamma Erasmus, always gets me. 
Before my Erasmus I just felt Italian, after my Erasmus I’m proud to say I am European, grateful for the endless opportunities we have as young Europeans.

I had been on both short and long-term mobility before my Erasmus. I knew what it meant to leave home, explore a new culture and new habits, looking at reality through a different perspective, yet I wouldn’t be the same person I am today if I didn’t leave for my Erasmus.

In 2018 I was a first-year student at IULM University in Milan, after spending a year abroad in the United States as a foreign exchange student during high school, going on several international experiences and spending my senior year summer in London, of course, I knew I would have applied for a mobility programme during my Bachelor. I figured I didn’t want the “typical” Erasmus experience many of my friends had in Spain, so I applied for an exchange programme in Buenos Aires and Erasmus+ in The Netherlands and Belgium. Despite the spots being very limited, I got in, at every destination. As I was working at the time and I wanted to enjoy it a little more before going on mobility, I chose not to go to The Netherlands in the fall and postponed my mobility in the spring, wondering whether to spend the spring semester either in Argentina or Belgium. Most people pressured me to go to Buenos Aires, telling me it would have looked better on my resume and it would have been an incredible experience on the other side of the world, while Belgium was not as impressive and life-changing. It took me some time, but I finally decided to go to Hasselt in Belgium, a not-so-popular Erasmus destination on the flemish border with The Netherlands, over the big metropolis of Buenos Aires, knowing that it’s never about the place but about the mindset you live your experience with. I wanted to experience the Belgian way of life and let me tell you, it was life-changing.

Here’s how my Erasmus had an impact on my life:

The cultural experience
Slow living, a lot of physical activity, and fully integrating with the Belgian people. Compared to Milan, I lived in a smaller city, where only 50 International students were hosted and the universities were not as big. I immediately felt at home. If on one side I was sharing the student residence with Erasmus students from Spain, on the other hand, I really had the opportunity to dive into the local community. My university offered over 40 sports and I decided to join the ice hockey team, therefore, twice a week after classes I would go to the ice rink and practice with the Belgian students. They were extremely welcoming and also adapted their common language to English, so I and the other international students would feel included. The university also offered free bikes for students; I would bike everywhere, at least 10 km a day, like an authentic Belgian. One of the most memorable experiences was the opportunity to volunteer at a local start-up, whose aim was to promote the city's local community; I worked with them to help them create communication materials engaging local shops, companies, and citizens, in order to establish a well-connected community network in the city. Being on Erasmus, I, of course, travelled all over the country thanks to the travel youth pass. I practised my English, French, and even learned a bit of Flemish. Who would have known that such a small country had so many opportunities for university students?

The education experience abroad
As a communication management student, the study experience at the University of Applied Sciences during my Erasmus was one of the best parts of it. While in Italy I mastered all the theories about corporate communication and advertising, at my host university in Belgium I put it into practice, by shooting videos, sending newsletters, creating websites, as well as participating in company visits, and spending quality time with my Belgian professors, who were both professionals in the communication field and educators. My Italian and Belgium studies complemented each other and definitely boosted my professional portfolio.

The impact on my future
As I said, before my Erasmus, I felt Italian, thanks to my Erasmus I started feeling European. During my mobility, I joined the activities of the local Erasmus Student Network organisation, which I was already in contact with. Upon my return, I joined the local ESN association of my university and got elected to the executive board a couple of months later. Thanks to my volunteering in ESN, I learned a lot and I was able to take on higher leadership roles in my previous job, I also gathered HR experience, which helped me transition from communication to HR communication, landing a job in a multinational company. Little did I know, fast forward 3 years from my Erasmus, I would decide to leave my stable job in Italy to take part in the National Board of the Erasmus Student Network The Netherlands, travelling around Europe to raise awareness on Erasmus+ and the European values.

Today, I’m proud of my journey and fully appreciate the opportunities we have as young Europeans, aware of the role we have as citizens... and it all started with Erasmus. They say everyone should experience being foreign at least once. I believe it doesn’t matter where you go, just go and explore. It will change your life.