On 1st September, when I stepped out of the airport of Málaga, many emotions rushed through my heart. After such a long time spent with planning, arranging documents, finding accommodation, choosing my classes, surviving my very first flight on my own to a country I have never been in my life – finally there I was.
Besides the happiness, I felt relieved, excited, a little bit nervous, and very curious. During the very first days, I tried to avoid acting like a tourist, although I just couldn’t help taking pictures of the loud green parrots, the bright colored flowers, the huge palm trees, and most importantly – the sea.
I believe, that experiencing a whole different lifestyle is a great opportunity to make ourselves aware, that the way people form an opinion, think, and see the world can be very diverse. The attitude of the Spanish made me understand, that being in a hurry the whole day, stressing and worrying, elbowing our way through the crowd is not necessarily healthy and advantageous in the long run. It was really surprising for me to see, that their goal is to fully enjoy their time spent with friends and family, entirely devoting themselves to the moment of having a good conversation, sharing a tapas at a local restaurant, eating ice cream while walking the narrow streets of the center.
I had the opportunity to apply for the so-called Buddy Programme at the University of Málaga, which was created to help foreign students by assigning a local student to them, based on their personality, hobbies, and interests. Luckily enough, I was paired with a kind and helpful buddy, who was born and raised in Málaga and is also a third-grade tourism student. From a touristic point of view, in my opinion, your first impression about a country is a key determinant in your willingness to visit it again in the future. The Spanish are welcoming, friendly, and most importantly – you will have the feeling of having been accepted and embraced. Most of them are curious about other nations’ traditions, history, and are more than happy if this level of interest and attention is returned.
According to my personal experience, the Erasmus+ program provides a special and unique platform for interacting with people, who have a very similar mindset. In Málaga, there are quite a lot of associations, organizations, and agencies specialized in organizing programs especially for the international student community of the city and its surroundings. If you walk the streets of Málaga, you will definitely hear many different languages spoken not only by the tourists but also by those who settled down or are working here. However, being a Hungarian in Málaga still counts as an exceptional phenomenon, in comparison to the massive German, Polish, Italian, Latin-American, and Swedish communities who live here. Being right in the middle of such an internationally diverse city creates hundreds of opportunities to get to know other people of different nationalities, and naturally to build new friendships.
After the first month of my Erasmus, I realized, that to get the full Erasmus experience, I have to balance between the three vertices of a triangle, and those are: learn, discover, and enjoy. The primary aim of this mobility is always to study abroad, improve professionally and build connections across the borderlines of the world’s countries. On the other side, the participants of the program will surely intend to discover the surroundings, to taste and experience the culture of the chosen country, and last but not least, to get an insight into the life of the locals. As nowadays we are used to consuming information at a high speed and in a big amount, I believe, that we are likely to forget about deepening our knowledge of what we learnt. That is the main reason, why I would recommend everyone to refresh their time-management skills. Also, you should make yourself aware, that sometimes less is more. If you run into the problem of getting overwhelmed with information and experiences, maybe you should just slow down a bit to devote your attention to a certain place, otherwise, after excessive stimulus, you will not be able to value things because your senses are not that sharp anymore.
Taking into consideration the university, I would like to highlight the way how the professors present, perform and explain a topic. Although I don’t want to generalize, I noticed, that Spanish teachers use more hand gestures, and occasionally they speak at a slower pace. I always wondered, how the teachers and professors manage to explain the learning materials over and over again, so that it would always sound interesting to those, who listen to it for the first time. I experienced that the enthusiasm of the professors can have a great effect on their students. For me, it was also surprising, when one of the professors told us, that at the University of Málaga there are meditation classes held especially for the teachers, which helps them to cope with everyday stress and remain motivated even after a tiring day.
I am grateful from the bottom until the top of my heart, that I had the opportunity and the courage to start my Erasmus semester. I know, that after too much repetition a sentence can sound boring and mainstream, but I strongly believe that everyone, who has an opportunity to participate in the program, has to give it a try because this experience will provide them life-long experience and memories. As the saying goes: Once Erasmus – always Erasmus.
Photos: Csenge Méhes