11 June, 2011

Erasmus year comes to an end

 As I was sitting at the Graz Airport on Wednesday, I slowly came to the fact that my Erasmus was one homeward journey away from being over. Often I’ve heard stories how the last days of Erasmus are a time filled with sadness and tears over losing friends and freedom. Certainly, even my last weeks and days had seen a lot of people go, and I had the possibility to say “oh, last time in this café/restaurant/wherever before I go”. But still, am I sad it’s over?

To be frank, not really. It was great, no doubt about it. I did a lot of things and saw a lot of places I never had before. Not being sad about going back is not a sign I had a bad time – it’s a sign I expect good times back home in the future. I’m really looking forward to moving together with Sonja into our beautiful new flat. I’m excited to see my old buddies again. I have ahead of me a summer of writing my bachelor thesis – and getting paid for it. Next semester I’m starting as a project assistant and helping to organize EGOS, a big scientific conference in Helsinki in July 2012.

So, both personally and professionally, things are looking quite promising. In comparison Graz offered courses a bit on the easy side. Also, we had to juggle our long-distance relationship as before – even though this time around we at least managed to stay within the same continent. Unsurprisingly, it’ll be a huge emotional boost to be able to stay in the same apartment.

The Erasmus was always more or less a kind of project for me. The rough goals for the year, in order of importance, were to
  1. improve my German
  2. broaden my perspective and gain a better understanding of who I am and what I want
  3. travel inside Europe

All the above was achieved, I think. My German is way more fluent than ever before, and I feel much more confident about my communication. A clear improvement is that I currently speaking German with natives, rather than reverting to English, something I always did before. I read dozens of books and had a lot of time to write and thinks. The effect of that can be seen in all the posts I wrote in Austria. Even if I still am not sure what I want in future, I feel much more confident about the general direction. Travelwise the year was a resounding success. I got to see a multitude of places new to me: Graz, Wien, Hannover, Bratislava, Salzburg, Venice, Klagenfurt, Berlin, Liverpool, Amsterdam, Eindhoven and Paris. Ljubljana and London, both of which I had already visited before, were amongst my trips, too. So I got to see and do what I wanted, which is why I’m not sad about the end: I think more time would’ve just meant stagnation. It’s nice to be moving forward again.

Of course, there are always a few grumbles and could've-would've-should'ves. For example, as a fan of hiking and mountains I regret not visiting Innsbruck or Switzerland. But then again, I favored seeing friends who lived abroad, and thought the emotional return on those trips was well worth them. This time mates beat mountains.

As a summary, it was an awesome year. A year I wouldn’t want to change. A year I’ll always remember wit fondness. Still, as every year, the year has reached its inevitable end – to make way for an awesome future! Personally, I want to thank everyone who helped to make this year an unforgettable experience. My deepest thanks go to all my closest friends in Graz, whether still there or already back home. Also thanks to all my friends here in Finland, who kept writing and were glad to see me whenever I was here.