– It was hard to realize that my Erasmus was over, says former Erasmus student.

FAMILY. Aniek Derksen from Netherlands in the living area at Fantoft. She explains how quickly your experience abroad is over, and your back in you old life. PHOTO: Amelie Enders.

The semester is coming to an end, and for all the internationals this means the end of their time in Norway. Something I myself experienced half a year ago. Let’s be honest, studying abroad is mostly not as serious as back home. At the end of each semester, you may therefore spot many crying faces at the car parks or bybanen stations of the international student houses.

Erasmus is more about «the experience» which is really different to the life back home where you have exams to pass and other responsibilities. Leaving this easy life to go back to your daily routine, might be harder than expected for most of the internationals.

Saar Eyers (24) from Belgium, Aniek Derksen (21) from Netherlands and I stayed together at Fantoft from August til December 2018. Eyers explains how difficult it was to say goodbye.  

– I was lucky to be there until the very end of everyone’s Erasmus, I got the chance to say goodbye properly and I was not sitting at home watching the rest still having fun.

The thing you miss the most

You leave not only Norway’s pretty nature, but also a ton of people you have spent time with during the last months. These are people who have joined you on small and big adventures. They become like a little family away from home.

 What I miss the most is not only the landscape and the hikes, but the people I have experienced it with, Eyers says.

For Derksen, saying goodbye to the people she met was the hardest thing about her abroad experience.

– The part I miss the most is that you are becoming really close with a few people. They are your best friends for this time – your Erasmus is nothing without them. You spend so much time with them, especially if you live together. You know everything about these people.

Back in real life

In your home country your studies continues as usual and, after some weeks, people are used to you being back. They might get annoyed by your endless Erasmus stories, as they have no idea what or who you are talking about. Derksen found it difficult to realise how quick daily life started again.

The first weeks I had so many people around me and everyone was really interested in my experiences in Norway. But after a month I was the same Aniek as before and my real life started again.

Life continues as usual even though you might have changed a lot while you were abroad, this is hard to accept. Eyers talks about the fact that nothing really changed while she was gone.

– It’s not always easy to stay in touch with everybody, because when you come home, everything is still the same as it was before you left for Norway – you are right back in your old life.

HOME AWAY FROM HOME. Saar Eyers from Belgium sitting in the dorm she shared with the friends that she describes as a second family. PHOTO: Amelie Enders.

What to do against it

This could all end in a «post-Erasmus depression» and the wish to just go back. To avoid feeling the void, the key is to bring a bit of Erasmus in your life back home.

Derksen suggest to always remind oneself of the wonderful time you had.

– Make a photobook. You can always go back in the past and think about it.

Eyers agrees:

– You need to keep the memory alive. Therefore I also want to go back at some point. I hope this will be soon.

Derksen has a specific image of her future trip back to Bergen.

– It should be with my Erasmus friends, because they will experience it the same way as me. I am not sure when, but within the next ten years I hope.

To bridge the time till we all  get back to Norway, we have met in our home countries – and new visits are in the making.

Derksen believes staying in touch is important.

– Without them, your life would have been horrible for half a year. I can’t imagine having no more contact with them.  

Tips to avoid a «post-Erasmus depression»:
  • Organize reunions with the friends you made in Norway – being back together will almost feel like being back in Bergen. This is also a good way to see Europe.
  • Motivate your friends back home to go on trips in your own country. There is no better way to escape the daily routine than by travelling.
  • Create a remembrance of your time in Norway to have something to look at when you become sad.
  • Plan a trip back to Norway with your Erasmus friends to not have the feeling that this part of you is gone.
  • A bit of sadness is also a part of the whole experience. Because the fact that you’re so sad about it being over, means that you had some really happy months in Norway.