I’m Gizem, I’m an architect-to-be student in my last year at Izmir University of Economics and I don’t know how to explain how much I’m excited to meet with all of you! I was planning to start these blog posts for a long (long, seriously.) time. Now, I can see that I was always postponing it because of the things that I thought were more important. However, these days, I understand the importance of taking time for ourselves. I feel so lucky to find time eventually and that motivation inside of me to share with you all my Erasmus experience, all memories, and all the things that happened during a year that I spent in Szczecin, Poland when I was an international student!

I’m planning to divide these post topics into 3 main parts. First, I will be writing about the period before going to Erasmus. I will try to help you with how you can decide to have that experience, how that experience can change your life, and how you can feel ready to make that dream true! Then, I will be writing about that one-year experience in a deeper way such as my group and solo travels, the importance of having international friends, being a roommate! (with different languages spoken) and the feeling of being an international student in another country. Finally, after these long post series, I will write about the feeling of coming back which makes me so sad in the beginning but now helps me to understand even saying goodbye was one part of the story. I feel how much I was lucky to have that experience in my life. I can say that I love the person I became after joining an exchange program.



Here I was so close to the end of that experience, my last 3 days! I’ve just shared it on social media and wrote ‘’Bye, Szczecin!’’ I was thinking that it was so easy to say goodbye to that one year-life.  I thought that it was the end and I was ready to come back to the city that I live (Izmir, Turkey.)

When I came back, I found myself talking about my Erasmus life constantly. I realized that Szczecin became the ‘’home’’ for me during the year and my real home was just like a ‘’holiday’’.

In my mind, I waited for a long time to finish that holiday to go back to my Erasmus life... Unfortunately, I had to understand that the ticket for that experience was a one-way ticket and there was no re-turn option to start from the beginning. However, that one-way ticket gave me the best memories of my life!

I want to share with you my other Instagram post text. I was simply trying to say goodbye to that year officially. I wrote these sentences after one week that I came back to Turkey.

“ I’m a little late to say goodbye to you dear Szczecin because I just could not accept that I was already back to my country. We met exactly 10 months ago, the first day that I came to the city I was thinking I might have committed the mistake of my life, I cried all night, the dorm room was too small, my roommate had not yet arrived, everywhere was closed at that time and didn't have even water with me to drink and calm down. Then, I told myself to stay calm and start somewhere. I thought if I was willing to come all that way to there was a reason. I had to convince myself somehow and I just walked outside, walked so long to find an open market in a city that I didn’t know at all. (without Wi-Fi!) It was a funny beginning and the first step for my Erasmus life. Then the first weeks were followed by welcome meetings, lectures, events, and ongoing parties. I've known countless people, I've probably forgotten countless days, I've danced to many songs, but I've always found my way back, and I've slept in that dorm bed, which I didn't like at first, but then I had a hard time to say goodbye.

One morning, the door of my room rang, I woke up from my sleep and I was angry about that and I opened the door. I saw a sister and the best roommate I could have. We became roommates for almost 5 months, sharing the same room when we were speaking different languages. Although we speak different languages in our countries, the English language made that person one of the best friends for me in the city. During my Erasmus year, I was able to see a lot of places I wanted to see. Ryanair (I will talk about that many times in the following posts!) yes, I followed you all night to find cheap tickets like a pervert. I can’t forget the time that I spent on the websites to find the cheapest bus, plane, and train tickets to travel… We went our ways, we stayed on the roads, we arrived at cities in the middle of nights, we’ve waited for 7 hours in the gas stations for the following journey...

You’re always a perfect navigation Cansu but yes even for you it was possible to fail, and you crossed us from the same traffic lights 4 times! I was dreaming to see Rome and the first thing I saw when we arrived in Rome was a real mouse in the street.

I cried and laughed many times, but I couldn't give up on that city, so I ended up staying one more semester in Poland and I extended my Erasmus year. Dear Szczecin, you have introduced so many beautiful people and amazing hearts to me, whether from my own country or other countries. I made so many international friends. I will never forget them; they are always in my mind. I love you Szczecin thank you for everything.’’

I am still thinking about my Erasmus friends and my small dormitory room every day. It was just an amazing experience. For this reason, I want to help everyone who is thinking about being an international student in another country. I want to encourage all of you! I’m so excited to start that post series…

So that was just a warm hello as I said in the beginning. I’m so excited to move on! So, I can't wait to tell you this one year from the beginning, see you all in the second post!

“Once Erasmus, forever Erasmus.”

Author: Gizem Çalışkan

Second part