From Finland to quarantine, what's left

How does a six months ago Erasmus help me today in staying home?

I am Gabriele, I’m attending the second year of Master in Management Engineering and I was on an Erasmus the first semester of this year in Jyvaskyla, a town in Finland about three hours north of the capital, Helsinki.

I found myself in a house with two other guys from Poli that I didn’t know but, over time, a good friendship was born. Attending the same courses and living the same university life has allowed us to get to know each other better and to settle ourselves in a world so apparently different from what we were used to in Italy. The biggest difference from Italian university was to find plenty of relaxation areas (some even with PlayStation) where to rest between different lectures. Over time, we also organized two wonderful trips, the first one to Saint Petersburg and the second one to Lapland. I was very happy with this experience, both for getting to know a country totally different from Italy, and also for meeting people who I did not decide to meet myself but who were put in front of me at that time and  made me grow. I left being  very fearful of living away from home, since it was the first time for me, but I was surprised to see how quickly I managed to get used to ‘apartment’ life (it was nice to organize dinners all together with the other guys in the lodges).

Instead, we are now locked in the house and it just seems the opposite compared to the excessive Erasmus freedom. On one hand there are the new places and people you met and, on the other, your home, which you have always known, with your family. However there is an unexpected common point that helps not to fall into the boredom of these days and that challenges me: the need for relationships with friends. On my  Erasmus in Finland as well as now I realize that the need to catch up on each others’ days and to take oneself seriously is a set stone that greatly helps to judge my days and not to let them fall into a void. Whether you are living through new and extraordinary events or you’re studying locked in your house, the desire for friendship and to be loved is what remains.

I am very surprised by the fact that, in this situation, we do not want to lose humanity in relationships, even if often there is the risk of digitizing everything and forgetting the person who is behind the screen. The fullness of life reached during  my Erasmus reminds me of how every person I met (even those with a completely different background from me) can be a call to live in a fuller way my today at home, looking for those humanities that are closer to me during this time, that maybe I take for granted most of the year: my family.

A final interesting point is the awaiting. During this time we are living waiting for the situation to turn back to what it was before even if we don’t really know when this will happen; waiting does not mean erasing all this time, but nourishing a great hope for what will come! I felt this way even at the end of my Erasmus because, despite the wonderful experience, the need to go home became more intense.

In conclusion, what does not change facing all these circumstances is myself. I hope circumstances  will always be an opportunity to grow up and to understand that there may be something to discover whether I am in a new country for a few months or whether I am home.

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