From a fear to a desire

by S. Baldelli and E. Corna

Last September two new issues jumped into my everyday life at university, more or less determined by the same routine: laboratories, coursemates, exams…

On the one hand there was the beginning of my master degree in English, and the consequent meeting with new coursemates, mainly foreigners, and on the other, in the corner of the eye, the imminent departure for my erasmus the upcoming semester. Both of the things right away revealed themselves as an unexpected reality that surprised me.


Following the lessons, at the coffee breaks or in the laboratories, right from the first week it came out that, despite it would have surely been easier for me staying in my comfort zone, with the same friends that had accompanied me during the whole three years of my bachelor degree, deep down I longed to meet my new coursemates, to know where they came from and their stories. As the days passed, a question kept arising in me: what convenience could there be for me in meeting them?


I was surprised by what happened at the very beginning: I realised that during the days I was looking for them, I wanted to know them, and in the same way they wanted to spend some time together with us Italian students. This double dynamic has generated in me some questions that became little by little more concrete considering my future departure.


The following weeks have been a constant alternation of questions and facts happening, but nothing has really been a turning point for me. It was fun to spend my afternoons with my mates, but the friendship with them did not really change the way I lived my days. The risk I sensed in this, and that slowly became a concern, was of wasting my relations, getting bored even of the new reality of the master degree. Spontaneously I wanted to ask a friend what had happened to her during her master degree and her Erasmus, if she had felt like I was feeling.


Before leaving for the Erasmus I had, just like you, the same awe, so strong that I did not want to go anymore. At some point I realised that I had a desire: to be able to call that new place “home”. I decided to look for an apartment with Erasmus flatmates like me, even if they were strangers. Unexpectedly, a wonderful relationship arose with them. From the very first day, they welcomed me with open arms, trying not to make me feel like the last arrived in an already well-established friendship. We shared a lot of things in those months in Strasbourg, almost like brothers and sisters, and I am still amazed to see how that relationship has not been lost when we all got back to Italy, each of us in their city.”


It amazed me to hear someone telling me with candour and plainness what deep down I am always looking for at Politecnico, and what I wish could happen the next semester.


One of the last months of my Erasmus, our academic tutor proposed to all of us students a three-day trip to Marsille, because he really wanted us to feel welcomed. We had the occasion of knowing each other better and on that occasion a friendship began and it continued even when we returned from the journey. We used to organise pic-nics, Sundays out at the park or evenings by the lake, for the sheer pleasure of being together. It really touches me thinking about those relationships, because now I know that I have many homes in this world, more than just in Milan or in Strasbourg.


When I came back from my Erasmus, I noticed that this experience was not yet concluded, and it still is not. I see that that same desire that I had when I was away, is now alive in my foreign coursemates. For example, a fellow Chinese student surprised me when, after a project review that went well, she told us that she was very happy not because of the result, but because we were all together after weeks in which we had not seen each other – so happy that she hugged us all.

Now I long to have in my days for every person I meet, my coursemates and fellow students the care that all the people had for me when I was in France and welcome them like I had been welcomed.

What surprised me when talking with my friend is the evident search of every man for someone to love, and, at the same time, the desire of being loved in every circumstance or experience in which someone might be, from being faraway in a foreign country, to the simplest everyday life.

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