I must confess that writing this article was a hard process that required lots of me. You might wonder why I am even writing this text. Well, the answer is quite simple - I would like to share all my memories with you and at the same time thank all the people that contributed to such an amazing experience.
First of all, let’s start with a quick presentation, I am Eric Mas Moncusi and as you might deduce by reading my name I am a Spaniard from Catalonia who is currently ending his Erasmus exchange in Kaunas.
I landed in Lithuania during one rainy night, on a 24th of august of 2016, after a crazy and really productive summer in Poland. My flight arrived at midnight in an unknown place of the European continent called “Vilniaus oro uostas” also known as Vilnius international airport. There I had the pleasure to my ESN mentor, Greta, who kindly showed me the most basic survival skills: first, winter can be cold; second, Lithuanians sometimes can be even colder; and last but not least, people here are seriously passionate about basketball.
During the first semester I had the opportunity to learn tons of Matlab (programming stuff), improve my English vocabulary and speak a really old language known as Lithuanian. Outside the university I was teaching Spanish with my Erasmus roommate Alejandro. I have to say that it was a really nice experience and it boosted my public speaking skills to unbelievable levels. I also met lots of locals, who showed me all the wanders of this mighty country. For example, did you know that Vytautas made Lithuania great? Yes, they are quite proud of him and they have an obsession to name everything after him, even bottled water.
In a more personal view I had the opportunity to meet my lovely and always sweet Monikutė (diminutive way of referring to Monica in Lithuanian). She totally changed my Erasmus experience. With her I had the opportunity to assist to countless events, visit countless places and even more. I would also like to mention all the ESN people who planned carefully all those events for us: like Culture and Cinema Mondays, the International dinners or two awesome Farewell Galas. It will also be hard to forget the moments that I shared with other Erasmus and international students. Despite the fact that we speak different languages and have different cultures we can make awesome things together. We all together could visit a bunch of places like Denmark, Riga, Tallin, Vilnius… and all these experiences are an inerasable memory.
Sometimes I also enjoy traveling alone. That is one of the reasons which pushed me to buy several bus tickets and cover more than a thousand kilometres in order to meet my old friends from Katowice, Gliwice and Warsaw. I still remember when I was trying to explain in Polish that I am a Spanish student who is doing his Erasmus in Kaunas, but was working in Poland, such a complex story indeed.
Time went too fast and second semester arrived, sadly lots of dared people left, but new ones came, and it all begins another time. Welcome week, university, laughs, gossips… but some things remain unchanged and I tried to stick to those. I started to learn and discover even more my host country: its snowy parks, blond people and, of course, their ancient language. During that time I met people from other universities, cities and I also had the opportunity to attend some international events.
I will never forget my first game jam. Our goal was to develop a game in 48 hours. It ended being the most insane weekend in my whole Erasmus. Another well-known event that I was able to join was Login, an international informatics show which takes place annually in Vilnius. My experience there was as awesome as exhausting and totally recommendable.
In my attempt to experience even more my Erasmus and Lithuania I decided to join ESN KTU and become a mentor, so I could share all my knowledge and learn even more. In ESN I met tons of incredible people and attended a crazy amount of events, trainings, team buildings… I even became one of the coordinators of the ESN KTU Seaside trip. Moreover, I would like to thank my ESN KTU Public Relations committee mates who showed me that developing good stuff is not just about knowledge, it is also about strong bonds.
This semester I was a Spanish teacher; yes, it happened another time and I was alone. It might seem scary but it was too funny. All my students were really kind and we ended learning A1 level Spanish pretty well, I hope to see them someday in Spain.
During the Easter Monica showed to me the beauty of Lithuanian villages, towns and cities. We visited gorgeous untouched lakes, churches, forests… We admired the oldest oak of the whole country and she taught me on how Lithuanians enjoy those festive days. I was painting eggs, playing with them and having quite enjoyable conversations with her and her family.
Now with my thesis or ‘trabajo de fin de grado’ (Spanish name for it) almost ended I wonder about my next adventure or how is going to be my life back in Spain. I am sure I will miss lots of people, but I am also sure that these experiences changed me. The Eric who left Spain didn’t know how to take care of himself, now I am confident enough to say that I have grown up. Erasmus changed my life radically. It showed me that wherever you go if you are eager enough you will achieve your goals, just don’t be afraid.