When I applied for Erasmus in 2019, I had no idea that I would end up doing two winter semesters in the same city, Lodz, one in 2019-2020 and one in 2020-2021. The first semester was wait-for-it… legendary, so when my university gave me the chance to cancel the second semester due to pandemics, like so many more students, I decided to come. And guess what, I haven’t regretted it at all!
First things first, if you decide to go for Erasmus in times of a pandemic, you have to adjust your expectations.
If you come to Poland thinking you will travel to 5 or 6 European countries, go to epic parties with 100 students and club each week, then I am sorry, but you will be disappointed. The situation is tense, and we all have to respect the restrictions and protect the local population, especially the high-risk groups.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun. Erasmus is an experience you will remember and treasure all your life, with or without Covid.
What can an Erasmus student do during the pandemic in Lodz?
1.You can travel inside Poland
Usually, when we say I have been to France we mean Paris, when we say I have been to Slovakia we mean Bratislava and so on. We focus on capitals or big, touristic cities (for Poland, Warsaw and Krakow). But there is more to this beautiful and diverse country. One semester is more than enough to visit the big cities and then start discovering the many hidden gems that you wouldn’t otherwise see. Go to the mountains, lakes, forests, hiking destinations and small villages that most tourists don’t go to. You won’t be disappointed!
2. Really learn Lodz
In the first semester, I barely saw any parts of Lodz. I took for granted that restaurants and cafés will always be open and I went to the same places over and over again. I was also usually busy travelling to other cities or countries. I thought that there was nothing more to Lodz, except Piotrkowska and Manufaktura. Big mistake! In the end, I understood that I had missed so many things. This year I didn’t waste the time in Lodz. I walked a lot, let myself get lost and found weird, beautiful, funny, absurd spots of Lodz.
3. You can meet people from many countries and make friends for life
Okay, due to pandemic, most students that come from countries outside Europe didn’t make it to Poland, which is sad. Lodz is still though very multinational, with students from all continents. You can meet people from other countries, open your cultural horizons, learn about their habits, religions, way of life and of course language. You can also make plans, to visit them when the situation allows it. Remember, you always have a home in your international friend’s countries.
This semester (and life) is all about small moments. A lot of things will be forgotten, but the small moments will stay. I will remember that we sang karaoke the same song, in 3 languages (Greek, Turkish and Arabic), I will remember that we fell on each other during ice- skating (yes, I suck at it and polish people agree with me -at least, they all laughed a lot). I will also remember our late-nights. I have spent most of this semester with a lot less sleep than usual, because of international gatherings and dinners (with tons of dirty dishes). In these gatherings, we stay up all night, chill, listen to music from our countries (and dance), talk for hours, and really get to know one another. We had more time to make deeper connections and support each other through unusual times.
5. Online classes
Okay, I am not going to lie, usually, I hate them. My attention spam in online classes is somewhat low. Also, they tend to be a bit boring. I miss the student-teacher interaction, the normality of it that I always took for granted. But during Erasmus, it’s actually useful. When you are hungover (which is not uncommon, I must admit it, Polish alcohol…), tired from lack of sleep (those late-nights) and you live 40 minutes away from university, it doesn’t suck that you have to stay at home and be in class wearing your pyjamas. I would still prefer to go there, but we have to make the most of what we have.
I could go on for hours, I like writing (I like talking even more, my friends can verify that fact), but then the article would be too long and you would miss my main point:
Erasmus is the best!
Don’t compare with other semesters, it is unique every time.
Don’t expect things that can’t happen! Think of the here and now and make the most of this amazing experience.
Don’t forget to comment (or PM me) if you want to talk more about my article.