I was an Erasmus+ intern in Brussels from July until November. Brussels is a highly competitive environment, everyone speaks at least three languages and has a really nice curriculum vitae behind them. It really is the capital of Europe and can turn into a home for everyone, so it did for me. It was my first living-abroad experience for longer period of time and it taught me precious things. Usually, people who intern abroad are very opened to new environments and are used to fluidity of meeting new people and are good in adapting to new environments. I don’t count myself in. I was a little introverted and shy when meeting and interacting with people I didn’t know. I stepped out of the comfort bubble and applied for the internship, mostly because I wanted to gain confidence of my own abilities. I went through the anxious period of time when you write emails and motivational letters like a machine. Fortunately, everything paid off. Here are things I have learned and want readers to know before they dive into similar experience abroad.
1.Write things down. Take notes, you will forget everything, especially on your first days, when your head is somehow still on the plane that brought you there. It is good to have notes to refer to when everyone loses an email adress, a number or name of someone or something.
2. Socialize. Even if you are a little introverted and find it stressful to meet new people. Go and meet, talk, laugh, tell stupid things, everybody is a human, they will laugh and almost everyone was in a position where you are now.
3. Always be ready for more work. You are the intern and it is you who will work extra hours if needed, it is not the end of the world. You are young and healthy! The latter is number four.
4. Make sure to stay fit and healthy. Do sports.
hint: Frisboes are great for team-building with your coworkers and also a good activity if you dislike sports.
5.Never be late. Never ever. Never.
6. To-do lists are important. Write a detailed list that tracks steps, it helps to stay focused. Instead of writing: “Make Facebook event”, write: 1. Write text for the event, 2. Find a photo, 3. Upload a photo etc… It sounds ridiculous, but it makes you feel more productive.
7. Ask questions. The more you ask the better for your future work. Ask even the dumbest questions. No one will remember. Or will and by the end of the internship, you will have tons of intern jokes.
8. Miss your family and friends. It is normal, you are a human being. But never let it disturb you from living the best days of your life, just because you miss them.
9. Your background is not important, what matters is you and your abilities, your will to work, your will to learn, your kindness. All that matters is you and your contribution, which is special kind of freedom and is really nice.
10. I know how cliché it sounds but remember, everything pays off. If you are nice, others are nice to you, if you write 50 emails, someone will answer and invite you do make an internship in their institution, if you do frisboe, you will feel better.
We live in a highly competitive world where we have to take all the chances we get, because future doesn’t seem so bright. Erasmus+ internships are great opportunity to improve Curriculum Vitae and to obtain skills needed for your future job. You will improve foreign language skills, experience different learning contents and become more able to adapt into new situations. Erasmus+ intenrship is a real-job experience which is helpful for young people to see how things work and how our lives (fortunately) will look like in a few years, when we leave education system.
Even if you are not interested in improving your Curriculum Vitae or obtaining new skills mentioned above and even if you don’t have ambitions to live and work abroad, go! Go because of you, of your own value in your own eyes, because you really don’t need another “yolo” summer. What living abroad does to you is that you change the way you look at things and then things change. In other words, you change your point of view, you become more open-minded and tolerant which turns you into an Europolitan.