So you have arrived in the city where you will spend the next few months living in. You want to breathe in the culture and experience as much as you can. But there are so many things to do in a new city. Where do you start? We can give you a few tips that will make your first month of transitioning into a true international student as smooth as possible.
Moving kilometers away from home can be very stressful and there will be days when you will feel a bit out of place, even in your own living space. Fear not, the solution is actually quite simple. You want to feel like home - right? Think about the objects you surround yourself with in your hometown - photographs, fun cushions, quirky statues, interesting bed sheets... Give your creativity wings and make your room a home away from home.
Low self-esteem. Rejection. Fear. Everyone has had that moment when they wonder “Where do I fit in?”. “Why are those guys hanging out, but didn’t invite me?”. “Have I missed out on stuff because I didn’t go out yesterday?” Let us tell you this - everyone feels like you do. It’s true! Everyone is terrified! Maybe you will bond with your new roommate over your excitement for the upcoming “Game of Thrones” episodes. Or maybe you will find your new best friend in the line for the cafeteria just by trying to translate the menu together. Either way, it will happen, so keep in mind that everyone is different and meeting someone with the same interests as you may take a little more time.
So you have made new international friends - amazing! You are on Skype every now and then talking to your parents, friends and family about how exciting your new life is. We have been there and done that, and let us tell you that those small gestures that make someone's day better will enrich your experience in more ways than you can imagine. You may not notice it now, but looking back you will realize that the smallest moments were the happiest ones. We’re not telling you to buy a car for your roommate but try washing the dishes when it’s not your turn, or surprising your friends with a Croatian recipe you have never tried before! Croatian people say that happiness is in the little things, and we could not agree more.
.This is a foreign territory. You are independent, alone, in a foreign country and extremely curious. Don’t forget to try some things you would never ever try at home. Learn a song in Croatian! Try burek! The one with meat, we don’t want to be your friends if you eat the one with cheese. Step outside of your comfort zone but don’t forget your limits. It’s all about balance on Erasmus, as well as in life.
It is well known that during the first few months you will go through the most of your scholarship, but think of it this way - education is always an investment! Many students decide not to go to a university and pursue a job straight after high school. Well, that is not the case with you, you are here and it’s apparent that your decision was different to theirs. Use your time in a foreign university to get as much as you can. Books, teachers and other students are all the base tor knowledge that you perhaps might not get at home. Don’t be afraid to be a geek! Haven’t you heard? Geek is the new cool! Bazinga!
The first few weeks you will be hyper aware of your actions consideringyou will be experiencing a culture shock. “How to eat? How to wait for the bus? Will they understand me?” will be some of the questions running through your head. We cannot say this enough. Don’t be afraid to ask! Even better! Learn a few Croatian words! People are usually very happy to see someone foreign speaking Croatian, so there is a better chance to learn something new and they will try to help you. (Don’t worry Croats are usually very nice so they will help you either way). Nema na čemu!
So a month went by and you didn’t even notice that you are not in touch with your family and friends as you used to be. Mark a certain date in a week to call them, it is important to make time for those who know you the best. Send them random pictures of you waiting in the cafeteria/menza, cooking with friends or traveling! They will appreciate the time you spent with them because, after all, they helped you to get there!
Written by: Vedrana Kovačić (communication manger of ESN Croatia) Proofreading: Željka Gligora (member of CROmCom - the national media team) Design by: Vedrana Kovačić (communication manger of ESN Croatia)