Erasmus in Poitiers is over for me: Already more than 3 months have passed since I lost my beloved status as student on Erasmus. A stupid little accident by longboard and my Odyssey in Tunisia prevented me from writing the final article in “Erasmus/Travel-semester in France”.
Nevertheless, my Erasmus time still leaves deep impressions in me that I feel the urge to share them with you!
Erasmus in Poitiers: In a small city you can still have a lot of fun!
In January I started my stay abroad. A dream came true for me – finally to be on Erasmus.
Like the other foreign students, I was very excited to embark on that more or less “academic” adventure: to “study” and to be on my own in a foreign country. You may ask why I have chosen Poitiers, and not popular Erasmus destinations like Paris, Barcelona, Madrid etc. ?
Maybe fate decided that I should do my Erasmus in Poitiers?
No, I am kidding, not exactly: I simply didn’t apply on time for Erasmus, therefore all study places were already taken for the next semester. No matter which country, I just wanted to get out of Germany for a while!
Luckily, the University of Poitiers still had 2 places available for super spontaneous people like me! (If you do Erasmus make sure to meet the application deadline 😉 )
That’s how I coincidentally landed in a little city southwest of France inhabitant by less than 88 000 people that didn’t have many student activities, especially no student associations like, for example, ESN (Which they do have now!).
Party or what?
Furthermore, the nightlife was very “promising”: the bars closed at 2 o’clock, alcohol cost a thousand times more than in Germany and the clubs were expensive.
Ok, maybe I was a little spoiled in these points because I am a student in Germany, where beer is even cheaper than water! 😀
Then, I lived in a tiny room of 8 m² and the residence “Descartes “situated on the campus was 5 km away from the city centre!
Actually, it wasn’t that bad in my residence: I met some awesome people and the middle-aged lady at the reception was a caring sunshine! (I noticed that the French working in the public sector are more warm-hearted than German people who often tend to pull a face of disinterest and coldness.)
You see, wonderful conditions were given to have a “wild” Erasmus in Poitiers like all people associate with this exchange program.
Nevertheless, I had one of the best times in my life! And I learned one important thing during my stay in Poitiers:
You don’t need a big city with a rich nightlife for students to have an amazing Erasmus stay. All you need are nice people around you with whom you share wonderful moments.
One big family
And this was the advantage of Poitiers: As there weren’t too many foreign students, we all knew each other. Therefore, I felt like a kind of familiar atmosphere amongst us after having “lived” some months in the city. Although each one had his own “little group” we all met again at the latest at one of the legendary house parties.
Instead of going to commercial clubs, we made our own unforgettable private parties!
When you just walked around the central places like Notre-Dame la Grande, Hotel de ville (town hall) or “Parc de Blossac” you were sure to meet someone that you know.
And you went out in the same bars and cafés.
In your residence you had your “little family” with whom you cooked or shared your meals.
When you were lucky you met a Taiwanese patissier who invited you to a “cake party” with dozens of delicious cakes.
Most of all, in Poitiers you met amazing people with whom you started crazy adventure trips.
In short, you shared wonderful moments with more or less the same people.
What impressed me the most: You got along with most of the people, even though you didn’t communicate in your native language.
All this made me feel at home in Poitiers. Thus, I am not sure whether I would have had such an intimate relationship to a place and its people if I had done Erasmus in a big city like Paris?
I only know that in Paris I wouldn’t have made it in the local newspaper. Haha! It was a very funny interview as I was surprised of questions like for example what I would change if I would be the Mayor of Poitiers… 😀 The GREAT answers you find here ! 😛
However, I feel that I was at the right time in the right place because I built up many great friendships. Among them not only Italians, Spanish, English, Irish, Polish, Turkish, Czech, Mexicans, Romanian, Bolivians, Peruvians, Chileans, Guadeloupean, Guineans, Greeks, Algerians, Tunisians, Moroccans, Syrians, Lebanese, Azerbaijani… ( I hope I didn’t forget any country),
but also “Poitevins”, the French from Poitiers!
I think, in a smaller city you can get more easily in contact with locals. That is really important to practice the language and to get to know the French culture that is more than just cheese, wine, frog legs and escargots!
Gwenola alias little Mrs Sunshine
Of course I got to know many French students, but I was also happy to meet Gwenola alias little Mrs Sunshine: One of the craziest, happiest and warm-hearted people that I have ever met in my life!
The middle-aged woman, who reminds me more of a very active teenage girl or Pippi Langstrumpf, has lived since a long, long time with her husband Luc and their two grown-ups boys in Poitiers. Since she has taken early retirement, the joyful lady enjoys giving French lessons to foreigners in coffee shops in return of a coffee!
You recognize “la Poitevine” by her funky clothes and her trolley in which she carries French children’s books for her students – no matter what age. When you meet her, you automatically start to grin as she infects you with her crazy humour and her pure joy of life, the French call it “joie de vivre” – a really inspiring person for me!
Twice a week she gave me French lessons, hence, I discovered many cafés. But mostly we stayed in “Colombus”, where the muffins and cookies were especially delicious. She often invited all her students to have dinner at her house or to her international picnics.
Getting to know people from different countries and to help people who were on Erasmus in Poitiers like me is what makes her happy. (If you come here, I can give you her details ;))
Erasmus in Poitiers leaves me thoughful
Thanks to her I got to know Ibrahim and Al Hassan, two young men who left their family and fled from Guinea in the hope of starting a new good life in France. Not knowing where the dangerous journey would lead, they “luckily” landed in Poitiers without having known anyone!
In addition, I also got to know their new friends who told me about their incredible escape stories across the Strait of Gibraltar into Europe! For me is was just unbelievable the “shit” they had gone through. I spent some time with the nice guys, upon their request I showed them how to use WORD and ended up as an English teacher for beginners. It was truly a rich experience that made me thoughtful.
Thoughtful, because I realized once again how unfair our world is and what a good life we “Europeans” actually have!
While we take the freedom to travel and the many opportunities to stay abroad for granted, for some people it is impossible to get out of their country, not to mention to take an opportunity for an internship abroad like for example Erasmus.
At this point I’d like to thank Erasmus for that great possibility that somehow has broadened my own horizon by taking me to another country where I had to adapt myself to a new environment and learned properly the language.
Moreover, it allowed me to travel around to see a little bit more of our BIG WORLD and to have some more time for myself.
I think, sometimes in life you need a break and a new environment in order to discover not only the world without, but also most importantly: the world within.
I feel something happens inside me:
After my Erasmus in Poitiers, I changed first of all the way I look at things. I learned to cherish & enjoy life even more and just to take things easy. There is no rush. Studying is important, but mostly overrated. The way I look at people changed, as I found out again that the language is not always the most important thing to get along with someone.
I believe, it is the chemistry between people that matters!
I became more open-minded, responsible and realized how wrong we are about certain cultures. (I am even more French than French people because I ate escargot and frog legs: D)
Then, I became more independent and learned to take my own decisions. Sometimes that means also to know when to say “No”.
Most importantly: to be yourself.
As there is so much more than these points, it is so difficult to explain this inner change or the experiences that I have gained to my friends and my family, especially not to those who had never lived abroad before.
However, it is a good feeling to know what is left after my Erasmus in Poitiers:
Priceless, wonderful moments that I shared with amazing people from all over the world.
But the best thing is to have friends all over the world who you can visit anytime!
Above all, I discovered my hidden love for CHEEEEEEESSSSEE!!! 😀 Compté, Reblochon, Rochefort, Blue d’Auvergne, Chevré de Poitiers, Brie, Morbier, St. Nectair….mhhhhh… I never thought that one day I would become a real cheese lover carrying with him all the time a naked baguette on his bike. 😀
It is not Paris, Barcelona, Madrid or one of the popular “Erasmus cities”. No, my little Erasmus town is called POITIERS that will always have a special place in the heart of those who had lived there And NOBODY knows what THE HELL was going on there, only us.
As the little prince of Saint Exupery said:
“You can only see with the heart… What is essential is invisible to the eye…”
And so time really flies – 7 months passed by very quickly.
Now my Erasmus in Poitiers appears for me like a dream, but a dream that I had lived!
A hearty thanks goes to my friends from all over the world and Poitiers for that amazing time! A big hug for all and I wish you guys all the best! You are anytime welcome in Germany. We always meet twice in a lifetime! 😉
Then, thank you my beloved rented bike of CAP that had never let me down. You always brought me safe and sound to my student residence Descartes when I got home late at night or in the morning, in every state of mind, whether high, tipsy, happy or sometimes even nostalgic and thoughtful. :’D
Most of all, I learned from you: never rush and take your time! Otherwise you become insolvent for a while:
By the way, you may ask if I actually also studied? 😀 Yeah of cooooouuuurrrse, a little bit – And I passed more or less all “my exams” of economy and received the “diploma” of the University of Poitiers, what a honor! 😉
Long Live Erasmus! Long Live Erasmus in Poitiers!
Viva la France!
P.S.: Why can’t everyone just live harmoniously together, like we Erasmus people from all over the world did? I wish one day. 🙂
“Imagine all the people living live in peace!”
Yours Viet. 🙂
Do you share similar or different experiences while being on exchange ? I am looking forward to get your feedback !
Or are you thinking about to spend some time abroad? Maybe to do your Erasmus in Poitiers? 😉