Hello, my name is Fernando Romero Gómez. I’m 32 years old and I live in a little town in Toledo (Consuegra).
Where did you do your Erasmus?
I did it in Romania in 2015/2016.
What steps did you take in order to get a grant?
I applied for it in the University of Castilla-La Mancha website in January 2015. I knew that Romania was not a very popular destination and I wouldn’t have problems to receive the grant. So, I applied and they gave it to me easily.
What kind of problems are Erasmus facing?
First, the fact of not knowing the university you go makes you difficult to fill the learning agreement with the subjects you have to select during your Erasmus period. Then, the tutor of your university has to accept them and it is not easy either because it´s probably that he doesn’t like the subjects you have chosen. Finally, and the most important problem is to face that you are an inexperienced person who has never been abroad and it’s time to leave your comfort zone.
Why did you decide to go on Erasmus?
I was studying English Philology and it was a must to be abroad to improve my speaking skills. I hadn’t had the opportunity to be abroad before and I consider it was my moment, I needed it.
Which city have you chosen? How did you decide to go the country you went?
I chose Bucharest. I chose this city because my brother has been there during his Erasmus period in 2004 and he had been always saying wonderful things about Romania since then. Besides, I wanted to know that country because the Romanian population here has been increasing for the last twenty years and I wanted to know closer the culture and customs of that Balkan country.
What did your Erasmus bring you?
I could say so many things…but if I have to highlight some, I would say that it brought me the awareness of a huge, interesting and wonderful world we never know if we don’t live abroad. The spirit of travelling without fear, meeting wonderful people and living like if it was the last year of your life. I will never forget that year, I promise.
Did your expectations meet the reality there?
Actually, my expectations before going there were two: to pass of the subjects I had to pass and to have many parties. And, of course, my expectations were reached; there is no doubt on it. I didn’t expect what I found later: love, love and love. It was amazing.
What about the culture of the country you stayed in? How about the difference and adaptation process?
In the beginning, we had to fight against our own prejudices. We considered Romanian people like drunks and troublemakers because in Spain we have listened about many Romanian people fights being drunk and so on. However, we discovered people absolutely polite and hardworking. Again, travelling opened my mind because I was full of prejudices.
The adaptation was very easy because, apart from the little changes (coin, university schedules, the stress of a big town, etc.), we were in Europe and life is not that different from here. In general lines, it was easy, I had no problems about it at all.
Can you tell us something very interesting about your experience?
I could say thousands of interesting stories. The most important experiences were the trips. I remember in October, November and December 2015 we were travelling every weekend. We visited Brașov, Sibiu, Cluj, Budapest, Istanbul (ooooh I miss you), Rome, and Florence…
Each time I remember that time, I remember my face when I first saw the blue mosque, the dooms in Florence, the sixteen Chapels, the Budapest parliament, you feel like if the world is yours, like if everything is possible and the Erasmus year will last forever.
Do you have any unforgettable challenging memories that change you or your life somehow? or have strong impact on you ?
Of course I have one. The days I was next to Zübus. I met Zübeyde Demir on 12th December 2015 and I have to say that my life hasn’t been the same from that moment.
There was a party in my flat that night and there were some Spanish Erasmus friends who studied in the University of Ploiesti (a city close to Bucharest). One of them told me: “Hey, I have met a Turkish girl at the university and she wants to come to the party” and I said: “perfect, tell her to come”.
So, she appeared tiny and with that absolutely black hair. She was so beautiful, really, so different to every girl I had met before. I was lucky because I was the only one who spoke fluent English and we were speaking all night long. I discovered that I had met a person that you don´t meet every day, she was more than special, she was unique. Three weeks later, the new year´s day she told me: “Fer, (short name of Fernando) I can´t stop thinking of you” and a love story started. We were fifteen months together and we loved each other so deeply that I´m sure that we will be always in the wind of Bucharest and Istanbul saying to each other: “Dear, I love you”.
What change in your life after this experience? Characteristically I mean
It changed my way of seeing life because I almost had not gone abroad before and It made me a traveller, an open-minded person, a better lover, it made me realise that the university in Bucharest is amazing…
It absolutely changed my life, I´m another person. I always think I´m lucky to have a good memory because I remember everything and how much I have changed in a good way because of my Erasmus experience.
What about the people you met there?
Well, it’s true that mean and strange people are everywhere. But it´s true that almost all people are concerned that they are living a unique year which unfortunately, they won´t live again. In general, people are amazing and Erasmus friend are forever. I really miss my flatmates from Spain and Belgium and the Romanian people I met at the university. All of them were great.
What is important know about Bulgaria before starting your Erasmus?
I think you mean Romania right? Hahahaha
Well, it’s important to know that people are much poor than in Spain and will face situations a bit difficult to understand (children living in the street, many homeless people, poverty in little town, filth streets, etc.). These things could shock you the first days and they make you hate the world. However, there are much more good things than bad ones, so, the only important requisite is to have an open mind, go and enjoy!
What do you think about the weather?
It was extremely cold in January!!!! I was not used to -22 degree and the snow. It is very difficult to see snow here in Castilla- La Mancha and I was frozen. But the rest of the year was nice, the spring there is amazing; everything is full of grass and trees and the weather is cool. You have to visit it! : )
What about the food?
Hahahaha what to say about the food!! I loved it. There is a restaurant in the centre of Bucharest called “Caru cu bere” and I remember the entire menu. Soups and meats are unforgettable. My favourite dishes: vegetable soup, meatball soup, Romanian sausages, apple cake, placinta, chocolate cake, luca, many, many things. You have to go Nahibe (who did the interview) , believe me, you have to.
Do you think that knowledge of local language is necessary?
Yes, I always recommend people to learn the language of the country you visit because I love languages and its usage. In my case, Romanian is a roman Language that is derived from latin like Spanish and it was very easy to learn. Nevertheless, Knowing English you don’t need to speak a native Romanian to live there, because EVERYONE knows English.
What could be improved while doing an Erasmus abroad?
There are many things you can improve. Mainly, your improve your English skills because you are speaking English all day long with people you meet, when you buy in the supermarket or when you speak to your teacher at the university.
Besides, you can learn much more languages if you are a curious person: the language of the country you visit, the language of the people you meet. Furthermore, and what for me is important, is the way you lose fear of moving and travelling to other places. In my case, it would be impossible because I was a real coward before my Erasmus period. Erasmus makes it easier, it is just magic!
What is the most important thing you have learned during your Erasmus period?
I have learned that life is once and we must squeeze all juice to live and take all the opportunities that life gives us. I was 29 years old when I did my Erasmus period, 29!! and I can say that it totally changed my life, my way of seeing the world, my way of loving. In general life, it made my life wonderful. I would never regret of deciding to be Erasmus, never.
How about budget was it enough to live?
No, not at all. The university gives you 1000 Euros and, of course, it’s not enough to stay there 9 or 10 months. To life in Romania is very cheap if we compare it with Spain but, anyway, it´s still not enough.
What advice would you give to any future students?
Say yes. That’s my advice. Say always yes to a drink, to a dish, to a trip, to a girl, to every opportunity of being better, to all the things that the Erasmus period gives to you. SAY YES.
Do you recommend Erasmus to other people?
I not only recommend it, I would make it mandatory. Yes, yes and then thousand times: YES.
Written by Nahibe Acar