The ‘Erasmus Bubble’ Phenomenon (And How To Escape It)
The ‘Erasmus bubble’ is a well- known phenomenon among students who go abroad via the European Erasmus exchange program. Internationals complain about it and often find it hard to deal with. Yet, others completely deny there is anything like the Erasmus bubble. Is it real or just a figment of the imagination? Read this article to find out more!
WHAT IS THE ‘ERASMUS BUBBLE‘?
Most students experience the Erasmus bubble as a feeling; more specifically, a feeling that making friends among international students – and especially other Erasmus students – is much easier than making friends with students of their host university.
This feeling is usually said to kick in after international students attend their first few classes at their host university. In this short period, students already feel how their fellow international students are much open to making new friends compared to local students. As a result of this, international students – especially Erasmus students – mainly interact with each other internationals during their semester abroad.
IS IT REAL?
Personally, I would say yes, the Erasmus bubble is real. It is naturally easier to connect with other international students when they are going through the exact same experience as you do. You all share the same enthusiasm for your host country, the new university and getting to know each other. Besides, you – mostly likely – all came there by yourself and are looking for new friendships. This means Erasmus students are easily drawn to each other.
This is supported by activities that might be organized especially for international students to get to know the new country and culture. Experiencing local culture is of course one of the most fantastic things about studying abroad. Being surrounded by international students all the time might make it difficult to get beneath the surface of a different culture.
When you look at it from the side of local students, you can make an argument as well. They might find it difficult to connect to international students because of a presumed language barrier or differences in culture. Also, most international students stay for only one semester, perhaps two. Locals might not find it interesting to invest in someone who will leave when the semester is over.
During my own Erasmus exchange to Limerick in Ireland, I experienced this Erasmus bubble as well. Making friends with other international students was easier and quicker. We got to know each other better during our trips to cities and the countryside where we were all introduced to Irish history and culture. It creates a bond to go through that together, knowing we are all from different backgrounds.
HOW TO ESCAPE THE ERASMUS BUBBLE
The big question is, if you find yourself within the Erasmus bubble, how do you get out of it? The answer to that question is to get even more out of your comfort zone. Studying abroad is already quite a scary and brave thing to do; yet, connecting to local students will require just a bit more courage.
My first tip is very straightforward: try to connect with locals in your lectures and seminars. Ask them a question about the readings for that week or when the deadline for the essay is. You could also join them in activities that are open for ALL students, such as a congress, guest lectures or movie nights. Most universities have all sorts of societies for hobbies.
This follows into my second tip, try to choose a club or society where more than half of the students are local. For example, if you are studying abroad in Germany, find a group with many local students and where the main language spoken is German. This way you can also work on your foreign language skills. Language exchange clubs are a fantastic way to connect to students of your host university.
My third tip is housing. If your guest university has campus accommodation, you can usually opt for mixed accommodation with local students. Living together will definitely get you more integrated in the culture of your host country. You will get to know the habits of local students and their ways of living. Sharing meals is a great way to get in your host country’s cuisine and bonding over food is really easy.
My last piece of advice would be that you try travelling alone and not just with your fellow Erasmus students. This will make you more independent from that group and make it easier to take steps on your own. Being part of the Erasmus bubble can make you feel safe, but if you are already getting out of your comfort zone by studying abroad, why not take another step and integrate into local culture? You might be surprised by who you befriend!