Why I applied for an Erasmus grant - Where I'm leaving to, tips for traveling abroad

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I've been popping up the topic about leaving for an Erasmus for a while (you can read about it here or also in this post). But, after all that, I've realized I never did a full post about it. Although it is not really a fashion-related topic, I find it perfect to write about and tell you all a little bit about, as Something Fashion was born in the middle of a trip abroad, so, traveling is a serious matter around here too.

First of all, you might be wondering... "Weren't you leaving to The Netherlands?" Well, yes and no. Netherlands and all Holland are my architecture come-true dream when it comes to teaching and education, and I hope I have the chance of moving there in a near future for a doctor's degree or to work. But, very few spots were offered on the Erasmus grant application and only one at TU Delft, which is the place I ever dreamed of taking a year abroad. Every course the Architecture School here in Valencia sends the highest grade applying, which wasn't my case, like, AT ALL. So, I had to think about other places to put on my Erasmus application form.

That said. I wanted to throw some light about why I decided to leave for a studying year abroad, and give some advice based on my previous experience traveling and studying in a foreign country. First thing's first, I must say that I wasn't the regular student who couldn't think about anything else but Erasmus year (or similar) when getting to my way to mid-career (in Spain you are not allowed to go study abroad until you reach your third year of college. Although it depends on the college career you're taking, and where you're taking it). In fact, I didn't want to leave. I wanted to get my architecture degree in Valencia as fast as possible, save money and then leave for a master's degree abroad.

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I think I've always been a great, committed student. But that changed when I entered architecture. I felt absolutely worthless when I started failing drawing subjects and struggled with projects where my theoretical knowledge was of no use. My self-esteem and self-confidence has been on a roller coaster since I started studying architecture, going from better to worse depending on the course. I've suffered sleepless nights (as all my friends and classmates have. P.S. Stay strong!) working and putting my effort on things which haven't worked out at the review or the final test (on the contrary, some have worked pretty well, too). The pressure and competitiveness is real studying architecture everywhere, but specially in Spain, where unemployment rates at architecture and engineering are pretty serious.

All this, together with the absolute consolidation of my comfort zone in Valencia (same people, same daily paths, same bus and routine EVERY-SINGLE-DAY for five years of my early adulthood) and the added aspect that I live with my parents (while almost all my friends come from other cities or regions in Spain, having already experienced living on their own) has summed up on me exploding. I'm tired and fed up of some things I have to deal with everyday here.

So, you might be wondering where the heck I'm leaving abroad for my Erasmus year if it's not to the Netherlands. Well, after some deep thinking and measuring tons of different options and aspects of the places I liked, I decided to apply for UNIFI at Firenze, Italy. Firenze is such an amazing city, medium-sized, plenty of beautiful and super artistry places to go and at the same time, I find it's a very comfy and familiar place. Firenze offers me a weather which is not very different than the Spanish weather at the interior of the peninsula, a lifestyle which doesn't differ much than the one I have at home (same time zone, similar daily routines, same love for street-life and closeness when it comes to the nature of the people. I think we spaniards and italians are very alike!), amazing sights and places to see, and also, delicious food! #sorrynotsorry

There're still so many uncertain things, and lots of paperwork to do. But anyway, I'm very happy and excited, and I can't wait to show you the best spots and things to do in Firenze. I think I did right both when applying for the grant and also choosing Firenze for the Erasmus experience. I'll keep you tuned with the latest news about it but now, I'd like to share with you some useful tips that have worked before on me when leaving abroad (even if it's about packing your luggage!).

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Useful tips

  • Plan, plan, plan
As a woman pursuing a technical career which requires tons of organization skills and writing down notes in everything I put my hands on, I've became a huge fan of lists and planning not only applied to the work routine, but also on my daily life. And that includes traveling, of course!

Making lists of the things you want to see or historical places you want to visit, mark down on a map the food recommendations, make a list of the things you want to carry on your luggage so you don't forget anything at home... Writing down everything makes it easier for your brain to enjoy your next trip!

  • Get yourself armed with plenty of patience
Traveling is quite tricky when it comes to waiting. You might find yourself waiting at the airport control gates, you will stand on a queue for local attractions, you'll wait for your visa even before than the start of your trip. So, my tip here is don't let anxiety overcome yourself, and get armed with patience! Is the only thing you can do about it.

Get a book, a magazine, some notebooks or sketchbooks if you are fond of watercolor to help you deal with those dead hours before (or during) anything happening on your way to your destination place.

  • Don't be afraid to explore and try new things
Whether it's food, a new language or daily routines, you're not at home anymore so, take that as a perk and embrace the new!
Don't be afraid to talk to people you don't know, join a club or social organisation, taste new flavours (even though I'm the worst person ever trying new food, I've also experienced it and sometimes I've cried back home for not having those amazing recipes or ingredients on hand!) and do things you wouldn't normally do at your place.

  • Wander around, and get lost on purpose
Leave Google Maps aside and get to know the new place you're living in by getting lost. Of course, write down your new address just in case of! Ask your neighbours or local friends the best places to go, take the public transport, enjoy the best sights apart from tourists and visitors. Be part of the place you're in!

  • Step out of your comfort zone
As in the third point stated above, do things you wouldn't do at home. Take advantage of the situation, place and people you're living and embrace the new! As an example, this blog was born on a trip to the United States back in 2011, and it was a way to share and say out loud what I was thinking on that moment. I presume I wouldn't have started Something Fashion if I was in Spain, but that trip just pushed me to keep writing until today.

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About Amanda

About [span]me[/span]

Hi! I'm Amanda, from Valencia (Spain).

I like all things vintage and classy. I study Architecture and I'm an epée fencer.

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