Home Institution: School of Business Administration ˝Turiba˝, Riga, Latvia
Host Institution: University of Rijeka, Rijeka, Croatia
Duration: 1 October 2011 – 30 May 2012
I remember when I used to watch TV series “Friends” as a kid, this thought flashed through my mind: “Gosh, what a fun time they’re having! It would be so cool to experience something like that!” Well, the truth is, Erasmus is kind of a 21st century version of “Friends” that everybody has a possibility to experience.
I started my 1st episode in Latvia, in the School of Business Administration“Turiba”. As I am studying tourism, there are many possibilities for students to go for internships and exchange programs abroad, so I decided to get the most out of these 4 years. I spent my first Erasmus in Spain, near Valencia, where I had the chance to enjoy Spanish culture, language and learn a lot together with over 100 Erasmus students. I gained so much in this half a year that staying in my host university seemed like I am missing out on something.
So next year I started to look for a new exchange program, and surprisingly enough, it didn’t take long to find it. As my friend said: „You didn’t choose Croatia,Croatia chose you.” And that’s true – International Relations Office was very flexible and ready to help me with all the problems I encountered, so I didn’t have second thoughts anymore and stopped my search saying: “I’m going to spend a year in Croatia!” And I have never regretted it - Croatians are welcoming and open-minded. Students are always willing to help and professors are actually appreciating your work and meeting you halfway. Therefore, I wish all of you would stay as amazing as you are and never lose your enthusiasm.
The first thing that surprised me was the size and beauty of my Faculty of Tourism and Hospitality Management in Ika that has a lot more charm than other educational institutions. What I really liked was the personal attitude I had a chance to experience as Erasmus student – I even had some one-on-one lectures so there was a possibility for discussions and in-depth individual teaching. My family and friends just couldn’t believe it when I told them about it! And the nature, sea, sun and mountains, that still takes my breath away, even after 8 months of living here!
However, there was also a down side to being an Erasmus in Croatia, especially when you, for example, try to register at the police or try to get a student discount when buying a bus ticket. You just bump against a wall and stay sitting there on the floor, wondering how to get to a doctor, get health insurance or get a package from a post office without taking week-long holidays.
But hey, you forget it all when you see how many new languages you have learned, how many friends and contacts from all around the world you have gained, how many places you have visited, how many new traditions you have experienced and when you realize that you can bring back something entirely new to your community, making it a richer and more exciting place to live.
It’s investment for your whole life, because you can get a job you have always wanted (like I had a chance to work for a travel agency), you can meet the partner of your life (believe me, there is the first Erasmus wedding from my previous year in Spain), get a new business idea that can push you to the top of success pyramid or you can just have a fulfilled and wonderful time in an international environment.
I wish for everybody to dive into this adventure and never forget the feeling of ERASMUS! You won’t regret it!