Author: Michelle Goossens
When I was in my second year, I heard we could go on Erasmus in our last semester. I was really interested, so I went to an information session. After this session, I was completely convinced. But I had to choose a country. I love skiing and we don't have mountains in Belgium, so why not Austria? It's also located in the centre of Europe. So I had made my desicion, I wanted to study in Graz.
Graz is the second biggest city in Austria and the capital of Steiermark. It has 45.000 students, so it's a real studentscity!
In the middle of the city centre is a small mountain, Schloßberg.
Schloßberg (Image Jelle Van Erkelens)
The PHSt (Pädagogische Hochschule Steiermark), was very flexible. I could choose every course I wanted. Except five obligatory courses for the incoming students. This was really cool because I'm studying for a teacher physical education, and I could choose some sport courses.
I've learned a lot during my Erasmusadventure. There are a lot of differences between the schoolsystem in Austria and Belgium. For example in Austria the primary school teachers have to teach sports as well. In Belgium, you have a special sports teacher.
During my stay, I've had the opportunity to do a teaching practice. This was really interesting, because I had to teach in German. At that moment you can understand how important class management is, because German is not my mothertongue, but the children have to listen to me.
Erasmus is also travelling and discovering. During my stay in Graz, I had the opportunity to visit Prague, Ljubljana, Budapest and Pag. I've never been to these cities before, even not the countries!
But the best thing about Erasmus is getting in touch with people from all over the world. During my stay I've met people from 22 different countries!
This is intercultural learning. You live together with people from different countries and everybody has his own habits. Before I came here I didn't knew that the people from Spain ate their lunch at 14.00 in the afternoon for example.
But ofcourse you also have to learn something about the culture from your host country. In Austria, they have something that's called "Fasching". On this day you can dress yourself and have a party in the street!
Fasching (Image Michelle Goossens)
Sometimes people say "Live begins at the end of your comfort zone". Well, this is completely true! I left Belgium including all my friends and family for five months, but I've made a lot of new friends and some of them were like family to me. If I didn't came out of my comfort zone, I wouldn't had an amazing time in Graz.
"Come as a guest and leave as a friend".
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