Erasmus as a non-European: absurd and existentialist

It’s 5:30 AM and I have about fifteen minutes to get myself out the door. My Czech student visa was expiring, and I had to leave France to have its validity extended. However, since Covid has made it so that inter-city connections in France are few and far between, I had to catch the 6:30 AM train from Grenoble to Lyon so that I could get on my flight to Frankfurt at 6:10 PM. Buses were no better, as they quit operating on the weekends- full stop. From Frankfurt, I would then fly to Vienna to catch the train that gets me to Brno, Czech Republic, where my home university is.

It’s all needlessly complicated because two weeks before my initially scheduled flight to the Czech Republic, new rules came into place stating that people coming from France had to isolate on arrival. I had to reschedule everything to factor in this mandatory isolation period before my appointment with the Foreign Ministry. And so, what would have normally taken 2 hours by plane, was now a hastily planned 30-hour journey. Halfway through my Erasmus semester in France, I found myself needing to go back to the Czech Republic to claim an extension to the visa that allowed me to stay in Europe. Halfway through being uprooted from a newfound home, I am uprooted once more. As a third-country national, this is what Erasmus is like.

Even if it is just for a semester, the disorientation that happens is very real. From collecting all the documents, the insurances, and the permits, preparing for Erasmus and getting settled in a new city is complicated enough as it is. Factor in the covid restrictions of where you’re coming from and where you’re going, plus the intricacies that come with being a non-European trying to exercise your rights as a European student, you’ll find yourself stuck with some 20 tabs open on your browser figuring out which documents to have and where to present them. This unprecedented overlap of circumstances has imbued me with a certain numbness to the fast-changing regulations, and the ability to absorb information the amount of which is not unlike trying to drink from a firehose.

I arrive at the airport by 7:20, just about an hour before the Covid testing site opens up. I realize that in my hurry, I threw away the food I have prepared the night before along with the trash earlier in the day. I was hungry, tired, and 10 hours away from being anywhere close to starting this trip. I fall in line for testing and knew I had to get tested twice: An antigen test with quick results that would let me get on my flight to Frankfurt that day, and a Czech-mandated PCR test for when I cross the border from Vienna on the day after that.

erasmus is flying

After I got my results, I proceed to the gate where my flight was boarding and came up to the border control booth. I present my passport and my test results. The agent hands me back the results, opens my passport, and asks me why I’m in France. I tell him I’m here to study. He matter-of-factly tells me no I was not as my visa was clearly Czech. As this happens, it does not get lost on me that he’s asking me these questions in French, and I respond in English. I explain to him that I’m on Erasmus. It took a few times, and a brave attempt on my part to pronounce ‘Erasmus’ in the most French accent I could muster before he understood. Just as soon as I thought I was in the clear, he shows me the front side of my passport and asks me how I could possibly be on Erasmus if I was not from Europe. I think about all the other third-country nationals who have gone to Erasmus before me and wonder if this was a shared experience between all of us. Do we count ourselves lucky if we do not get stopped and asked? Or do we all fall between the cracks?

I did not get to the airport half a day early just to get sent home. Coming from the Philippines, I was painfully well-versed in inane bureaucracy. The Erasmus experience as a third-country national is no different. You prepare more, even if more is not asked from you, because you never feel comfortable declaring your right to stay in and move around Europe. You print out documents when all your EU contemporaries have nothing but their phone with them. Thirty minutes, two additional personnel, a load of printed paperwork, and several calls to a superior later, they let me through. Needlessly complex and comically cumbersome, I smile as I find myself thrown headfirst into an absurd Kafkaesque situation.

Finally being on the other side of border control gave me some time to think about what just happened. I think further about Kafka. Specifically, his work Metamorphosis and how it would play out if it were written today. In 2021, should Gregor Samsa once again wake up from uneasy dreams to find himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect, will he have noticed? With the longevity of the pandemic beating us down to submission, will he have cared? Halfway through my mandatory isolation, I would have been glad to have randomly sprouted extra legs and feet. All the more to feel with, I suppose. Plus, it probably would have helped with all the anxious walking around as well. More realistically, he would have kept on this existential slog: going on Zoom calls with his microphone muted and his camera turned off, his colleagues being none the wiser. The absurd is contextual it would seem.

I got on the flight and landed in Frankfurt where I would end up attending a virtual meeting and taking two final exams during my nearly-15-hour layover. From there, I flew to Vienna and arrived at an airport with no border control. The absurdity of being compelled to get tested twice for Covid on the same day and never need to present the results is infuriating and anxiety-inducing. I could think of no definition more accurate than Kierkegaard’s contention of anxiety as the “dizziness of freedom”[1]. Having been told to present your negative test results to authorities on arrival, and not having any authorities to present them to, quickly forces in you a level of self-policing only people who have been in that situation can relate to. This dizziness went with me as I crossed the border to Brno where again, I arrive with zero stops from any authority.

Coming back to the city of Brno, I feel like a stranger in the place I’ve called home for two years. Having only been gone for three months, I feel weird calling myself a foreigner. Even weirder was remembering that I am a foreigner. A third-country national afforded the same opportunity as European students. Lucky to have taken part in this semester exchange at all. See, notions of home and identity are challenged when we go on Erasmus. Inevitably, wherever you go becomes a part of you somehow. We figure ourselves out relative to where we are. Therein lies the situation: Erasmus is an exercise in existentialist thought. A conversation between yourself and society about what makes you, you: the values you uphold, and the type of good you want to push for.

So, when asked about what the Erasmus experience is, how should one respond? Should it be an answer based on classes taken and credits gained? On relationships formed and relationships ruined? In defining the essence of a thing, Husserl tells us to consider what is both necessary and invariable to its being[2]. The program has very specific definitions that outline your participation in it but does not presuppose what you gain aside from the grades you’re supposed to take with you. And so, while there is the definition, there is no meaning. At least, no pre-determined meaning, that is. What is necessary and invariable to your Erasmus experience is your involvement in it. It, like life, is what you make of it.

The unbearable lightness of Erasmus

Is the Erasmus light or heavy? “Over the town,” Marc Chagall, Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow The title of this brief piece that I am about to write is inspired by the masterpiece

For me, Erasmus was a chance to stare into the abyss- the uncertainty of what’s to come. The chance to pit all the values I’ve formed over time, against integration and globalization made manifest. More than a gloomy prognosis, the absence of meaning is an invitation: For an undoubtedly great opportunity for personal growth. A chapter to look back on, hopefully, to say that it has made us more resolute in our attempt to be good for the world and for the people around us. An opportunity to live authentically, in the existentialist sense. To accept the weight of understanding that your experience will be the conglomeration of how you practiced this freedom which the Erasmus program has afforded to you. We come to university ready to learn and to put our beliefs to the test. Erasmus takes that premise and magnifies it.

A month later, having secured my residence permit, I finally get on my flight back to France where I will spend the remainder of my semester. This trip a lot less finicky than the previous one. I come back to my room- my body tired, and my head still dizzy at the freedom I find myself in. I try to find my bearings and I press however many feet I have, on the floor.

The Erasmus experience will hand you an unprecedented amount of accountability. Your experience is what you will it to be, and in turn, it will be uniquely yours. As Camus writes: “We are all exceptional cases”[3]; our Erasmus gives us the reins to make our cases exceptional.

Jerry Yao


[1] The Concept of Anxiety –  Søren Kierkegaard 

[2] Logical Investigations – Edmund Husserl

[3] The Fall – Albert Camus

Madame Europe: Europe seen through her sons’ eyes

My name is Martina and I am one of Europe’s daughters.

My mother was born not so many years ago, even though her name – linked to Greek mythology – is way older. She arrived in this world silently, tiptoeing, walking as a cat does, The importance of her is not understood by everybody yet, unluckily.

Europe is a beautiful woman wearing a blue dress that falls on her body like a simple, long and comfortable garment. My mother is strong, resolute, determined although young; when walking, with her light and nude feet, she moves forward with the elegance of the princess she is named after. My mother is among the most powerful and gracious peace beings on earth.

Europe is born just like a phoenix: from the ashes of devastation and misery. From the hunger for peace and thirst for much-needed stability: when she was born she was so shy, with an insecure gaze to the rest of the world, with everybody looking at this fragile creation with such a noble name. Just a dozen were the countries believing in her, but it was on that sweet being that they had put their highest hope, they had understood the importance of getting together in a single team, to get the role of a great power that was growing to take the main stage in this world.

They forged Europe there, where everything had started: in Rome, the cradle of the most magnificent endeavour of humankind, the city that cuddled like in mother’s arms the greatest expression of civilization; there, where everything had begun many centuries before, my mother saw the light.

Europe became a woman just before my birth, only a couple of years earlier. Maybe no one was expecting her to become so gorgeous, powerful, necessary.

My mother’s hair is red, a vivid vermilion that looks like pulsing of its own life, and this is because she has the duty of reminding her children of the human sacrifices that led to her birth, in order for them not to repeat the same terrible mistakes occurred in the past.

Europe is one of the youngest creatures on earth, still, the most ancient history lives in her. Europe is made of many different cultures, she is nurtured with different traditions and she speaks many languages: her children study these languages as they are free to travel, to see other countries, to know each other and the way other people live. Europe allows me to call these people “brothers” and “sisters”.

Europe is a land with no borders, a mother that gives the chance of living together with people coming from different places, reducing distances, both material and figurative ones: something that once was just unthinkable. Still, often we forget how my mother allowed to tear down these walls by allowing people to easily travel to other countries with one single currency and just a document in the pocket. Maybe many find it hard to acknowledge the importance of the demolition of these barriers as they were intangible constraints, they were not physical constructions and, therefore, their destruction does not look like such a great success.

Europe is invisible, she is not the kind of mother you can easily look at, touch, hug; however, to me, to live in a world where she is not existing looks impossible. For me, Europe means to have brothers and sisters that come from France, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Denmark, Austria, Greece and many other places and to feel proud and connected with each of them. The same concept of “foreigner”- something that scares many people like the spirit of a ghost – gets nullified, and this is because the concept of living, sharing and knowing a determined space has a greater value today.

Europe means to give and to receive by constantly changing point of view. Today we have the privilege of having a chance. The chance of fully understanding the reality of places, people and cultures that can physically be far from where we are. Moreover, at the same time, we can share with these people our own origins, enriching in this way the collective cultural baggage.

Europe has many aspects, it is the ensemble of sounds and accents of her many different languages, it is the sum of cultures and traditions that are so different one another, even though we already know how to bring them closer to us: seeing and understanding the beauty, connect with it and never let it go. To feel like at home after taking a flight, a train or a ship is a pleasure that was given to us, without getting asked anything back for it.

In this time of severe global, economic and health crisis, some people are not trusting in Europe, they look at it with suspicion in their eyes, as if she was the one to be found guilty of the problems and not the one to provide solutions. And this deeply saddens me. If I think of my experiences, of my studies in France where I fell in love with such an elegant and charming language, with its writers, its cities, its history. And this changed me.

When I think of the cities I had the luck of visiting, the good smell of the air I breathe every time I get off the train or I touch the ground after a flight when I am on the French side of the Alps, the pleasure of listening to that language, I feel more and more it is a matter of love, of passion. Yes, this feeling is something that should be felt by many more people who, instead, criticize a Europe we all are part of, jeopardizing so foolishly the relationships, the brotherhood, the stability that struggled so much to born and grow.

Having the chance of studying abroad allowed me to know other people from all over the world, to speak more languages on the same night and this, believe me, it is a richness that one should exploit as much as possible. Erasmus programs are very popular among university students and the number of double-degree courses should also increase so to give students the chance of living in more contexts and to prepare workers that will be able to spend their academic titles in different countries.

Martina Bellotto

A benefit of EU : Erasmus+

With the European elections taking place this week, and the ideas of Euroscepticism looming amongst EU member countries in the polls, there exists a definite requirement in analysing the true benefits the European Union provides its citizens. Given that there a numerous advantages in being an EU citizen, this article shall specifically analyse the Erasmus+ exchange scheme the Union provides, in order to obtain a more profound understanding of the resources which are available at our disposal through being a member of this Union.


A dream of unity

Giovanni Sgaravatti

Giovanni Sgaravatti

The European Union is the largest peace project in history. As such it must be understood, defended, strengthened and undoubtedly improved. Talking to someone who has lived through the war is all it takes to understand that peace cannot be taken for granted, not even in the twenty-first century. History teaches us that we Europeans have been one of the most stubborn and abusive people on the face of the earth. Probably, considering a war in Europe today as unlikely to result almost ridiculous, is already the greatest victory of the European Union.
Free movement, pic by Hungary Today


Erasmus: the birth of a dream

Thirty years after the birth, here is how everything began…


15th June 1987 is a normal day for most part of European people, actually it is an historical date in which a success story of sharing, cultural exchange and growth for European and international students has become reality. It marks the day of Erasmus birth, the anniversary of the ratification of the European Council of Ministers established the Erasmus programme (87/327 EEC).


The unbearable lightness of Erasmus

Is the Erasmus light or heavy?

v “Over the town,” Marc Chagall, Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow

The title of this brief piece that I am about to write is inspired by the masterpiece of Milan Kundera the unbearable lightness of being. The Czech writer, taking back Parmenide’s reflections, reasons on the meaning of the dichotomic poles of heaviness and lightness, providing the keys for reading it: both to historical-philosophical level and lowering the abstractness of the two terms in a magnificent love story. Here, as soon as I think about the period that I am living in this small college town in the North of Europe, it is impossible for me not to think of this question: is Erasmus light or heavy?

First of all, Erasmus is a ‘heavy’ experience. It is primary heavy for you are leaving your certainties and your loved ones. Your usual daily routine is nullified, your acquaintances change completely, your alimentary habits are revolutionised. Even the way in which you view the global map changes because it makes you see the world and your country in a completely different manner. However, the ‘heavy’ aspect of this Erasmus experience overall relates to the changes in habits and in the human body maturation due to these worthwhile experiences. Changing your paths, meeting people that speaks languages different from yours, smiling and noticing how that smile has different values for different people, Erasmus leads you in a constant challenge that leads you to grow. For better or worse, what characterises our body as material, is heaviness. We have somehow to take care of it is the starting point from which we can cultivate and make our reflections grow, through them we can look for a sense.

On the other hand, Erasmus is also lightness. The thoughtlessness with which we write the name of our destination, without caring, it is just one place or another. A word, a name, a city that can represent opportunities, dreams and relationships one completely different from the others. The lightness with which, teenagers for a second time, we look at the stimulating afternoon lessons and we get blinded by the lights of the night. The heaviness, the material part of being, makes born and grow the lightness, the critical and free from the constraints of materiality thought, the supreme expression of human perfection. Therefore, as Kundera speaks of the drama of central Europe and of its lost cultural identity, with this light project we rather lean out in a complicated thematic. We lean out there in a European scenery that gets more and more lacerated by the disenchantment, by ethnic conflicts and youth unemployment.

The Erasmus, in the lightness of its idea, is the project that has engraved more concretely on the life of millions of individuals. It does not aim to make you become Europeanist or paladin of who-knows-which political party, but just to experiment the endless value of freedom and the knowledge of the other. It teaches you to remain yourself, but lightly, in the way of living, in the awareness of the differences between people: differences that we must recognize, for only through the knowledge of the different one we can recognize him, respect him and not to be afraid of him.

Erasmus is not a tool for pointing a direction, is the manual that gives you the means for building social life, our civic growth. For no coincidence, these people with different ideas, languages and nationalities have met and they feel now pushed to share ideas and experiences with the common aim of an only system of values in the respect of the plurality of positions and solutions.

The heroism of originality

I am walking through the beautiful city of Utrecht. The sky is pierced by occasional sun-rays and the city seems to be magical. The traffic-light is red. I stop and

Once again, lightness plays a key role in the randomness of our meeting: the resulting heaviness triggers the channel of this common sharing space. What unites the two terms is not the assignment of a value, but the perceiving of the deepest meaning and the gathering of the enormous wealth that an experience of this kind can transmit. Erasmus, as metaphor of losing ourselves for then find us again renewed, perfectly reflects the perfection, the wealth that this dichotomy has given not only to the literature but to the humankind too.

The heaviness of the experience, the lightness of the thought.

Or, maybe, the lightness of the experience and the heaviness of the thought?

Good question…

In the end, neither Kundera succeeds in explaining us whether life is lighter or heavier, also for being caught up in the doubt if the love among the human beings is light for the feeling or heavy for its concreteness.

When you will be intent to study head down in view of an examination in a different language from yours, when you will not understand a single word of what the cashier of the supermarket tells you or when you will wait for the person that you love standing under the rain, just smile.

Smile in any case.

You are dancing the one-time waltz of life.

Alessio Vagaggini


The unaberable leightness of being, M. Kundera, Adelphi editions, 1982

The tragedy of central Europe, M. Kundera, The New York Review of Books, 1986

Sunrise shakes



Sunrise shakes

These few lines are the beginning of a new experience, born to share ideas, sensations, feelings and knowledge, with the eyes focused on the whole world.

<< Everything has already begun before, the first line of the first page of every tale refers to something already happened out of the book >>.
Italo Calvino

Sunrise leads to a new world or another perspective, everything beginning from myself.


Erasmus bilang banyaga: sa baligho at eksistensyalista

Alas singko y medya na ng umaga at mayroon pa akong labinlimang minuto para makalabas ng kwarto. Kailangan kong lisanin ang Pransiya nang pansamantala upang mapahaba ang visa ko na iginawad sa akin ng Republikang Tseko. Subalit, dahil sa Covid ay bihira na ang mga byaheng pa-ibang lungsod sa loob ng Pransiya kung kaya’t kinailangan kong sumakay sa 6:30 AM na tren mula Grenoble patungong Lyon para maabutan ko ang eroplanong papuntang Frankfurt sa 6:10 PM. Kung sa bus naman ay ganun rin, dahil itinigil na nila ang pagbyahe sa katapusan ng linggo. Mula sa Frankfurt ay lilipad ako patungong Vienna kung saan naman kailangan kong sakyan ang tren na magdadala sa akin sa lungsod ng Brno sa Tseko, kung saan ako nag-aaral.

Napakagulo ng buong sitwasyon dahil dalawang linggo bago ang aking unang nakatakdang paglipad patungo sa Republikang Tseko, may nilabas na bagong mga patnubay para sa mga manggagaling mula sa Pransiya na nagsasaad na kailangan nilang mag-isolate sa kanilang pagdating. Dahil dito, kinailangan kong baguhin ang lahat ng aking mga plano para maisingit ang pag-a-isolate bago ako humarap sa Foreign Ministry. Ang dati sanang dalawang oras lang na paglipad ay biglang naging tatlumpung oras na byahe. Sa kalagitnaan ng aking semestreng Erasmus sa Pransiya, kinailangan kong bumalik sa Tseko para mag-habol ng dagdag na oras para sa visa ko dito sa Europa. Sa kalagitnaan ng pagkakabunot mula sa aking bagong tahanan, muli na naman akong binubunot. Bilang isang banyaga sa Europa, ganito ang Erasmus.

Kahit na ito ay pang-isang semestre lang, ang pagkakalitong nangyayari ay ramdam na ramdam. Mula sa pagkolekta ng lahat ng mga dokumento, ng insurance, at ng mga permit, ang paghahanda para sa Erasmus at ang paninirahan sa bagong siyudad ay kumplikado na sa sarili nito. Kung idadagdag mo pa yung mga paghihigpit na dala ng covid sa panggagalingan at pupuntahan mo, pati na rin ang mga komplikasyon na dala ng pagiging banyagang estudyante na pilit ginagamit ang kanyang mga karapatan bilang isang estudyante sa pamantasang nasa Europa, makikita mo na lang ang sarili mo na may benteng tabs na nakabukas sa iyong browser para malaman kung anu-anong mga dokumento ang kailangan at kung kanino ito ipapakita. Ang kakaibang pagkakapatung-patong ng mga pangyayari na ito ay nagbigay sa akin ng tiyak na pagkakamanhid sa mga pabago-bagong regulasyon, at ng kakayahang humigop ng impormasyon na sa sobrang dami ay hindi na naiba sa pag-inom mula sa hose ng bumbero.

7:20 noong dumating ako sa paliparan, halos isang oras bago pa man magbukas ang mga Covid testing site. Napagtantuhan ko na sa aking pagmamadali ay naitapon ko ang pagkaing inihanda ko noong gabing lumipas, nung umaga kasama ng basura. Nandun akong gutom, pagod, at mga sampung oras pa mula sa totoong simula ng byaheng ito. Pumila ako para magpa-suri na nalalamang kailangan kong magpa-suri nang dalawang beses: Una, yung antigen test na mabilisan lang ang resulta para pasakayin ako sa eroplano patungong Frankfurt sa araw na iyon, at isa namang PCR test na kailangan ng gobyernong Tseko para patawirin nila ako galing Vienna sa susunod na araw.

erasmus is flying

Nang makuha ko na ang mga resulta, tumuloy na ako patungo sa nakatalagang gate at dumiretso sa border control. Doon, ipinakita ko ang passport ko pati na rin ang mga resultang nakolekta ko kanina. Agad ibinalik sa akin ng ahente yung ibang mga dokumento. Kanyang ibinuklat ang aking passport at tinanong niya ako kung bakit ako nasa Pransiya. Sumagot ako na andito ako para mag-aral. Agad-agad niyang iginiit na hindi yun totoo at malabo itong maging totoo dahil ang visa ko ay galing Tseko. Habang nangyayari ito, hindi nawala sa isip ko na kinakausap niya ako sa wikang Pranses at sinasagot ko naman siya sa Ingles. Muli kong ipinaliwanag sa kanya na ako ay nasa Erasmus. Paulit-ulit yung usapan namin hanggang sa nagpumilit akong bigkasin ang salitang ‘Erasmus’ na may pinaka-Pranses na pag-diin na kaya kong ibigay. Doon niya ko naintindihan. Nung akala kong tapos na ang proseso, ipinakita niya sa akin ang harap ng aking passport at tinanong niya ko kung paano ako nag-e-Erasmus kung hindi naman ako galing Europa. Napaisip ako bigla tungkol sa mga banyagang estudyanteng nauna sa akin na nag-Erasmus din. Ganito rin ba ang nangyari sa kanila? Swertehan na lang ba na di tayo mapipigil? O lahat ba nahuhulog kalaunan?

‘Di ako dumating nang maaga, na halos kalahating araw pa bago ang byahe ko para lang pauwiin. Dahil galing ako sa Pilipinas, sanay na ako sa ganitong mga walang kabuluhang burukrasya. Ang Erasmus bilang isang banyaga ay walang pinagkaiba. Mas maagap at mas mabusisi ka sa paghahanda kahit na di naman ito hinihingi sa iyo, dahil di ka komportable sa pagpapahayag ng iyong karapatang manirahan sa Europa. Paulit-ulit ka kung mag-print ng mga dokumento habang yung mga kasama mong taga-Europa ay telepono lang ang dala. Hindi ba nakakapagod? Makalipas ang tatlumpung minuto, ang pagdating ng dalawang karagdagang empleyado, ang ubod ng daming papeles, at iilang tawag sa superyor, pinalusot na nila ako. Sobrang komplikado at katawa-tawa sa pagiging pahirap, napa-ngiti na lang ako sa pagiging ‘Kafkaesque’ ng aking sitwasyon.

Noong sa wakas ay nakatawid na ako sa kontrol, mas lalo akong napaisip tungkol kay Kafka. Tungkol sa kanyang kwentong “Metamorphosis” at kung paano ito mag-iiba kung sa kasulukuyan ito isinulat. Sa 2021, kung magising mula sa mga hindi mapalagay na mga panaginip si Gregor Samsa at siya ay naging isang malaking insekto, kanya kaya itong mapapansin? Sa tagal ng panahong inabot ng pandemyang ito, na tila ba tayong dinurog patungong pagsumite, magkakapake pa kaya siya? Sa kalagitnaan ng aking pag-isolate, ikinagalak ko pa siguro kung ako man ay tinubuan ng karagdagang mga paa. Tulong na rin siguro ito para mas makaramdam ako ng kahit ano. Saka baka padaliin nito ang balisang paglalakad sa loob ng kwarto. Pero siguro ang mas kapani-paniwalang mangyayari ay itutuloy niya lang ang nakagawian niya na sa covid: sasali sa mga pagkikita sa Zoom na nakapatay ang mikropono at kamera, na di man lang nababatid ng kanyang mga ka-trabaho ang kakaibang nangyari. Mukhang ang baligho ay may kapamanggitan.

Sumakay ako sa eroplano at kalaunan, dumating na ako sa Frankfurt kung saan ay dumalo ako sa isang online na pagkikita at sumagot ng dalawang pagsusulit sa aking halos 15 oras na layover. Mula doon, lumipad ako patungong Vienna at hinarap ako ng isang paliparang walang kahit anong kontrol batay sa covid. Ang pagkabaligho nang dalawang beses nagpasuri para sa Covid sa iisang araw at malamang di pala kailangang ipresenta ang mga resulta ay nakakapikon at nakakabalisa. Wala akong maisip na ibang kahulugang mas angkop kesa sa pagkakahiwatig ni Kierkegaard na ang pagkabalisa ay ang “pagkahilo ng kalayaan”[1]. Walang sinuman ang makakaintindi sa antas ng pagsisiyasat sa sarili na dala ng mapagsabihang kailangan mong ipakita ang iyong mga resulta sa mga awtoridad sa iyong pagdating at dumating na walang awtoridad na kung kanino mo pwede maipakita ang mga resulta, maliban na lang sa mga taong nakaranas na nito. Dala-dala ko ang pagkabalisang ito hanggang sa makarating ako sa Brno, kung saan, wala na namang kahit anong awtoridad o kontrol na batay sa Covid.

Sa aking pagbalik sa Brno, pakiramdam ko ay para ba akong dayuhan sa lungsod na tinawag kong aking tahanan sa humigit dalawang taon. Sa halos tatlong buwan lamang na pagkakawalay, kakaibang pakiramdam ang sabihing isa akong dayuhan. Mas kakaiba pa ang aminin na ako nga ay isang dayuhan. Isang banyagang nabigyan ng kakaibang pagkakataon na karaniwang para lamang sa mga estudyanteng taga-Europa. Sinwerte lang na makasali sa programa. Ganito kasi yan, lahat ng mga paniniwala at mga haka natin ukol sa mga usaping pagkakakilanlan ng sarili ay nahahamon sa pagsali mo sa Erasmus. Hindi makakaila na ang mga lugar na pinupuntahan mo ay nagiging parte mo kahit papaano. Mas nakikilala natin ang ating mga sarili kaugnay sa kung na saan man tayo. Nandirito ang tunay na kalagayan: Ang Erasmus ay isang pagsasanay sa eksistensyalismong pag-iisip. Isang usapan sa pagitan ng iyong sarili at ng iyong lipunan tungkol sa tunay na pagiging ikaw: tungkol sa mga prinsipyong nais mong panindigan, at tungkol sa uri ng kabutihang gusto mong ipaglaban.

Kaya kung tinanong ka tungkol sa karanasan mo habang nasa Erasmus, paano ba dapat sumagot? Dapat ba ay sumagot nang base sa mga klaseng iyong pinasukan at sa mga units na iyong nakamit? O baka naman ayon sa mga pagkakaugnayang nabuo at mga relasyong nasira? Sa pagtukoy ng kakanyahan at diwa ng isang bagay, isinasaad ni Husserl na dapat nating kilalanin ang mga bagay na kailangan at hindi maiiwasan[2] sa pagmemeron nito. Ang programang Erasmus ay may mga eksaktong patnubay kung saan nakasaad ang iyong pakikilahok pero wala itong pinagpapalagay sa iyong makukuha galing dito maliban lamang sa mga markang iyong makakamit. Kung kaya’t habang may depinisyon, wala itong ibig sabihin. O di kaya’y wala man lang pinagpapalagay na ibig sabihin. Samakatuwid, ang mga bagay na kailangan at hindi maiiwasan sa iyong Erasmus ay ang iyong pagsali dito. Parang buhay,

Para sa akin, ang pagsali sa Erasmus ay isang pagkakataong tumitig sa kailaliman- sa kawalan ng katiyakan sa kung anumang darating. Ang pag-asang ipag-harap ang mga prinsipyo’t paniniwala ko laban sa isang mundong mas magkasama-sama’t mas magkadikit. Higit pa sa isang malungkot na pagbabala, ang kawalan ng ibig sabihin nito ay isang paanyaya: Para sa pagkakataong siguradong makakaambag sa paglago ng ating sarili. Isang kabanatang sa balik-tanaw ay ating masasabing nagpalakas sa ating paninindigang maging mabuti para sa mundo at para sa mga taong malapit sa atin. Isang pagkakataong mamuhay nang tunay sa sentidong eksistensyalismo. Na matanggap ang bigat ng pagakaintindi na ang iyong karanasan ay ang kabuuan ng kung paano mo ginamit ang kalayaang itinakda para sa iyo ng Erasmus. Nag-aaral tayo sa pamantasan na handang matuto at subukin ang ating mga paniniwala. Mas higit pa ito sa Erasmus.

Pagkalipas ng isang buwan, nakuha ko na ang aking visa. Muli na naman akong sumakay ng eroplano pabalik ng Pransiya kung saan ko tatapusin ang aking semestre. Mas mahinahon ang byaheng ito kesa sa nauna. Nakabalik ako sa kwarto ko na pagod ang katawan at ang utak na ma’y hilo pa rin sa kalayaang nakabalot sa akin. Sa pagpapaigting ng aking paningin, itinapak ko ang kung gaano man karaming paa na meron ako, sa sahig.

Ang paglahok sa Erasmus ay magbibigay sayo ng kakaibang antas ng pananagutan sa iyong sarili. Kung saan ang iyong karanasan ay nakadepende lamang sa kung paano mo ito iniatas. Tulad ng sabi ni Camus: lahat tayo ay may mga pambihirang kalagayan[3]; Na sa iyo at sa iyong Erasmus, ang pagkakataong gawin itong tunay na pambihira.

Jerry Yao

[1] The Concept of Anxiety –  Søren Kierkegaard

[2] Logical Investigations – Edmund Husserl

[3] The Fall – Albert Camus

L’Erasmus per un non-europeo: tra l’assurdo e l’esistenziale

Sono le 5 di mattina e ho circa 15 minuti per uscire dalla mia stanza. Il mio visto ceco da studente è ormai in scadenza, devo lasciare la Francia e rientrare per farmelo prolungare. In Francia, da quando c’è il Covid, i mezzi pubblici che fanno tratte extraurbane sono pochi e non frequenti. Per arrivare in tempo a Francoforte per il volo delle 18:10, devo prendere il treno delle 6:30 che va da Grenoble a Lione. Con i bus non va meglio, nei weekend non passano proprio. Arrivato a Francoforte dovrò volare fino a Vienna e prendere il treno che, finalmente, mi porterà alla mia università a  Brno, in Repubblica Ceca.

Tutto si è complicato due settimane prima del volo che avevo prenotato inizialmente, perché per rientrare in Rep. Ceca è stato introdotto l’obbligo di quarantena per i chi arrivava dalla Francia. Ho dovuto cambiare tutto il programma per far in modo di riuscire a concludere la quarantena prima dell’appuntamento al ministero degli esteri. Un viaggio che normalmente dura due ore in aereo è diventato un viaggio di 30 ore, organizzato in fretta e furia. Nel bel mezzo del mio Erasmus in Francia mi sono trovato a dover tornare a Brno per richiedere un’estensione del visto che mi aveva permesso di stare in Europa. A metà di una nuova esperienza, sradicato da quella che era ormai una nuova casa, mi trovo a essere di nuovo senza radici. Questo è l’Erasmus per uno studente originario di un Paese non europeo.

Anche se si tratta solamente di un semestre, il disorientamento che si vive è reale. Già soltanto raccogliere tutti i documenti necessari, le assicurazioni, i permessi, prepararsi per l’Erasmus e trasferirsi in una nuova città è abbastanza complicato. Poi considerate tutte le restrizioni dovute al Covid sia nel Paese di partenza che in quello di arrivo, senza dimenticare tutte le problematiche dovute all’essere un cittadino non europeo che prova a esercitare i propri diritti di studente europeo. Si finisce a trascorrere molto tempo bloccati davanti a un computer, con 20 schede aperte nel browser a cercare di capire quali documenti servono e dove devono essere consegnati. Questo insieme di circostanze completamente nuove mi ha portato a una certa indolenza verso i regolamenti in rapida e continua evoluzione. La capacità richiesta per immagazzinare tutte queste informazioni è un po’ come quella che servirebbe per riuscire a bere da un idrante.

Arrivo all’aeroporto alle 7:20. Un’ora esatta prima che aprano i siti per effettuare i test Covid. Solo ora mi accorgo che nella fretta ho gettato via insieme al resto della spazzatura il cibo che mi ero preparato la notte scorsa. Mi sento affamato, stanco e mancano ancora almeno 10 ore prima di poter davvero pensare che il viaggio stia iniziando. Finisco nella coda per i test covid, già consapevole che dovrò sottopormi a due test. Un test rapido antigenico per poter prendere il volo da Francoforte e un PCR obbligatorio per poter entrare in Repubblica Ceca il giorno dopo.

Dopo aver avuto i risultati mi avvio verso il gate per l’imbarco e mi avvicino alla cabina di controllo della frontiera. Mostro il passaporto e l’esito del test. L’agente mi riconsegna i risultati, apre il passaporto e mi chiede cosa faccia in Francia. Gli dico che sono lì per studiare. L’agente però sottolinea che il visto per motivi di studio che ho è ceco e non francese. In tutto questo mi rendo conto che lui mi stava parlando in francese e io stavo puntualmente rispondendo in inglese. Cerco di spiegargli che sono in Erasmus. Ci sono voluti diversi tentativi, tra i quali uno sicuramente azzardato in cui ho provato a pronunciare “Erasmus” con l’accento più francese che potessi fare, ma alla fine ha capito. Appena mi ero convinto di avercela fatta, l’agente torna mostrandomi la parte frontale del passaporto e mi chiede come potessi essere in Erasmus se non sono un cittadino europeo. Mi viene da pensare a tutti gli altri cittadini non europei che sono andati in Erasmus prima di me e mi chiedo se tutti hanno vissuto esperienze simili alla mia. Dovremmo considerarci fortunati a non essere fermati e a non dover spiegare ogni volta la situazione? O apparteniamo a una categoria invisibile?

Non sono arrivato in aeroporto con mezza giornata di anticipo per essere rispedito a casa. Già venendo dalle Filippine ero finito in mezzo a un mare di insensata burocrazia. Fare un Erasmus da cittadino non europeo non è molto diverso. Ti prepari a tutto, anche se non ti è richiesto così tanto, perché non ti senti mai del tutto a tuo agio a sostenere che hai pieno diritto di stare e di muoverti liberamente in Europa. Stampi con attenzione tutti i documenti possibili e immaginabili anche se i tuoi coetanei europei non hanno altro che i loro telefoni con se. Trenta minuti, altri due addetti ai controlli, un carico immane di documenti cartacei, una lunga serie di chiamate ai propri superiori e alla fine mi hanno lasciato passare. Una procedura insensatamente complessa e macchinosa. Mi viene da sorridere, vago con la mente e mi accorgo di essere in un’assurda situazione kafkiana.

Finalmente, passati i controlli di frontiera, ho un attimo per riflettere su tutte le cose che sono successe. Mi ritorna in mente Kafka e la sua Metamorfosi. Immagino come sarebbe se fosse scritta oggi. Se Gregor Samsa si fosse svegliato in una nottata tormentata nel 2021 e si fosse trovato nel suo letto, trasformato in un insetto gigante, se ne sarebbe accorto qualcuno? Sottomessi e abbattuti dalla lunga durata della pandemia come siamo, ci sarebbe davvero importato? Nel mezzo della mia quarantena obbligatoria non mi sarebbe dispiaciuto se mi fossero spuntate altre zampe e altri piedi. Immagino sia solo per sentire qualcosa. Poi avrebbe certamente aiutato in tutte le camminate intorno alla stanza per sfogare questa ansia. Oppure, più realisticamente, Gregor avrebbe continuato con a vivere con questa tipica fatica esistenziale che viviamo, partecipando alle chiamate su zoom con il microfono spento e la camera disattivata, senza che i colleghi se ne accorgessero.
Cosa è assurdo dipende dal contesto. 

Prendo il volo e atterro a Francoforte, dove mi ritrovo a partecipare a un meeting virtuale e a fare due esami nelle 15 ore di permanenza in città. Da lì volo fino a Vienna e arrivo ad un aeroporto dove non c’è alcun controllo di frontiera. Mi trovo nell’assurdità di essere obbligato a fare due test covid lo stesso giorno senza, poi, dover mai mostrarne i risultati. E’ esasperante e ansiogeno. Non riesco a pensare a definizione più accurata del concetto di angoscia di Kierkegaard, è davvero “la vertigine della libertà”[1]. Il fatto che mi abbiano detto di dover mostrare il risultato negativo del test covid all’arrivo e il non aver incontrato nessuna autorità alla quale mostrarlo, mi fa sentire talmente abbandonato a me stesso che solo le persone che hanno vissuto una situazione simile possono comprendere. Questa vertigine mi ha accompagnato anche quando ho attraversato il confine per arrivare a Brno, dove nuovamente non c’è stato nessun controllo alla frontiera.

Tornando a Brno mi sono sentito uno straniero nel posto che avevo chiamato casa per i due anni precedenti. Sono stato via solo tre mesi, mi sento strano a definirmi straniero. Fa un effetto ancora più strano ricordare che effettivamente sono uno straniero. Un cittadino di un paese extra-europeo che ha avuto le stesse opportunità di uno studente europeo. Sono fortunato ad aver potuto partecipare a questo semestre Erasmus. Vedete, le definizioni di casa e identità sono messe a dura prova quando si va in Erasmus. Inevitabilmente i luoghi dove andiamo entrano a far parte di noi in qualche modo. Ci vediamo in un certo modo a seconda di dove ci troviamo. In questo si riassume tutto: l’Erasmus è un esercizio di pensiero esistenzialista. Una conversazione tra noi stessi e la società su ciò che ci rende noi stessi, sui valori che sosteniamo e sul tipo di bene per il quale vogliamo batterci.

Quindi, quando ci viene chiesto com’è l’Erasmus cosa dovremmo rispondere? Dovremmo dare una risposta in base ai corsi frequentati e ai crediti conseguiti? Sulle relazioni costruite e su quelle rovinate? Definendo l’essenza di una cosa, Husserl sostiene che è fondamentale ciò che è necessario e invariabile nel suo essere.[2] Le caratteristiche del programma sono definite in maniera specifica e dettagliata ma non c’è nulla che faccia comprendere in anticipo ciò che si riceve prendendo parte ad esso, al di là dei voti che ognuno si aspetta di ottenere. E dunque, anche se si ha una definizione non si ha un significato. Almeno non un significato che sia predeterminato in partenza. Ciò che è necessario e invariabile nella propria esperienza Erasmus è il proprio coinvolgimento. L’Erasmus, come la vita, è ciò che si fa di esso.

Per me, l’Erasmus è stato un’opportunità per guardare dentro l’abisso – nell’incertezza sull’avvenire. L’opportunità di scavare in tutte le convinzioni che ho costruito nel tempo, contro l’integrazione e la globalizzazione come manifesti. L’assenza di significato non è una prognosi cupa ma è più un invito a sfruttare quella che è senza dubbio una grande occasione di crescita personale. Un capitolo a cui guardare indietro, nella speranza di poter dire che ci ha resi più risoluti nel fare del bene per il mondo e per le persone intorno a noi. L’Erasmus è un’occasione per vivere in modo autentico, nel senso esistenzialistico del termine, accettando il peso della consapevolezza che la propria esperienza dipenderà da come si utilizzerà la libertà che l’Erasmus stesso ci concede. Si arriva all’università pronti a imparare e mettere alla prova le nostre convinzioni. L’Erasmus prende queste premesse e le esalta.

Un mese dopo, una volta sistemata la questione con il permesso di soggiorno, posso finalmente salire sul volo di ritorno per la Francia dove trascorrerò l’ultima parte del semestre. Questo viaggio è molto meno complicato del precedente. Ora riesco finalmente a rientrare nella mia stanza, mi sento stanco e ho ancora le vertigini per questa libertà che sento dentro. Cerco di orientarmi e spingo con tutti i piedi che ho sul pavimento.

L’esperienza Erasmus ci fornisce una quantità senza precedenti di responsabilità. La nostra esperienza è come noi vogliamo che sia e finisce per essere solamente nostra. Come scrive Camus: “siamo tutti casi eccezionali”[3]; l’Erasmus ci dà le redini per rendere i nostri casi eccezionali.  

Jerry Yao

tradotto dall’inglese da Michele Corio

[1] Il concetto di angoscia – S.Kierkegaard

[2] Ricerche logiche – E.Husserl

[3] La caduta – A.Camus

L’expérience Erasmus en tant que non-européen

Il était 5h30 du matin et il me restait à peu près quinze minutes pour partir. Mon visa étudiant tchèque était sur le point d’expirer, et il me fallait quitter la France pour faire valider son extension. Cependant, à cause du Covid, voyager entre les différentes villes de France était plus compliqué qu’à l’habitude : les trains étaient peu nombreux, il fallait donc que je prenne, à Grenoble, le train de 6h30 pour Lyon afin de pouvoir ensuite prendre l’avion à Frankfurt à 18h10. Prendre le bus n’était pas une meilleure option, puisqu’ils ne fonctionnaient pas les weekends – point barre. Depuis Francfort, je pourrai ensuite prendre l’avion jusqu’à Vienne, d’où je pourrai prendre un train pour Brno, en République Tchèque, où se trouve mon université d’origine.

Tout était inutilement compliqué. A cause des nouvelles règles sanitaires qui ont été appliquées tout juste deux semaines avant mon vol initial pour la République Tchèque, je devais dorénavant m’isoler à mon arrivée là-bas. J’ai donc du tout reprogrammer pour respecter cette période d’isolement obligatoire avant mon rendez-vous avec le ministère des Affaires étrangères tchèque.

Ainsi, ce qui aurait du prendre deux petites heures en avion s’étant transformé en un voyage de trente heures, organisé à la dernière minute. Tout cela parce que, en plein milieu de mon semestre Erasmus en France, j’ai été obligé de retourner en République Tchèque pour demander une extension de mon visa, qui me permet de rester en Europe. Il ne me restait plus qu’un demi-semestre avant d’être déraciné de mon nouveau chez-moi, et voilà que j’étais déraciné une fois encore.

En tant que citoyen d’un pays du tiers-monde, c’est à cela que ressemble l’expérience Erasmus.

Même si ce n’est que pour un semestre, la désorientation qui a lieu est réelle. Préparer l’Erasmus et s’installer dans une nouvelle ville est déjà compliqué en soi, mais il faut ajouter à cela toute la préparation administrative que cela implique, de la collecte des documents officiels, des assurances, des permis… à la prise en compte des complications qui vont avec le fait d’être un non-Européen qui essaie de faire appliquer ses droits en tant qu’étudiant Européen. Puis, à cause de la pandémie s’ajoutaient à tout cela les restrictions dans le pays d’où tu viens et celle du pays où tu vas. En somme, on se retrouve rapidement perdu dans la vingtaine de fenêtres ouvertes sur le navigateur à essayer de comprendre quel document préparer et quand l’utiliser.

Ce chevauchement de circonstances sans précédent m’a imprégné d’une certaine torpeur face aux régulations en constant changement, ainsi que de la capacité d’absorber une quantité d’informations conséquente – comme on essaierait de boire l’eau sortie d’une lance incendie.

Je suis arrivé à l’aéroport autour de 7h20, à peu près une heure avant l’ouverture du centre de tests pour le Covid. C’est seulement là que j’ai réalisé que, dans ma hâte, j’avais jeté la nourriture que j’avais préparé la veille en même temps que je sortais les poubelles. J’étais donc affamé, fatigué, et encore éloigné d’une dizaine d’heures du départ officiel de mon voyage. Je rejoignis la file pour me faire tester, tout en sachant qu’il me faudrait me faire tester deux fois : une première fois ce jour-là via un test antigénique au résultat immédiat, qui me permettrait de prendre l’avion jusqu’à Francfort ; puis un autre, mandaté par la République Tchèque, aussitôt que je traverserai la frontière avec l’Autriche le lendemain.

Après avoir reçu les résultats, je me suis dirigé vers la porte d’embarquement de mon vol et me suis adressé au bureau de contrôle des frontières. Là, je présentai mon passeport et le résultat de mon test. L’agent me rendis ce dernier, ouvrit mon passeport et me demanda pourquoi j’étais en France. Je lui répondis que j’y étais pour étudier. De façon absolument détachée, il me dit que non, je n’y étudiais pas pour étudier puisque mon visa était clairement tchèque. Je remarquai qu’il me posait les questions en français, et que je lui répondais en anglais. Je lui expliquai donc que j’étais en Erasmus. Cela nécessita d’être répété plusieurs fois, ainsi qu’une courageuse tentative de ma part pour prononcer « Erasmus » dans l’accent le plus français que je pouvais maîtriser, pour qu’il comprenne enfin. Et alors même que je pensais que tout était clarifié, il me montra la couverture de mon passeport et me demanda comment je pouvais bien être en Erasmus si je n’étais pas européen. Je pensai alors à tous les étudiants originaires de pays du tiers-monde qui sont partis en Erasmus avant moi et me demandai si ce genre d’expérience nous était commune. Doit-on se considérer chanceux si on ne nous arrête pas pour nous poser ce genre de questions ? Ou passons-nous tous entre les mailles du filet ?

Je n’étais pas arrivé à l’aéroport une demi-journée en avance pour me faire renvoyé d’où je venais. Venant des Philippines, je m’y connaissais – douloureusement – en absurdités administratives. L’expérience de l’Erasmus en tant que citoyen d’un pays du tiers-monde n’est pas différente. On se prépare plus, même si on ne nous demande pas de le faire, parce qu’on ne se sent jamais à l’aise pour déclarer notre droit de rester et de nous déplacer en Europe. On imprime tout un tas de documents quand nos camarades européens n’ont rien d’autre sur eux que leur téléphone.

Deux agents supplémentaires, une série d’impression de documents, et plusieurs appels à des supérieurs plus tard, ils me laissèrent enfin passer. Inutilement compliqué et comiquement laborieux. Je souris alors que je suis poussé tête la première dans une absurde situation kafkaesque.

Une fois de l’autre côté du contrôle aux frontières, j’eus un peu de temps pour réfléchir à ce qui venait juste de se dérouler. Je continuai à penser à Kafka. Plus particulièrement, à son œuvre La Métamorphose et à ce à quoi elle ressemblerait si elle avait été écrite aujourd’hui. En 2021, si Gregor Samsa devait à nouveau se réveiller d’un rêve compliqué pour se trouver transformé dans son lit en un insecte gigantesque, l’aurait-il remarqué ? Avec la longévité de la pandémie qui nous plonge toujours plus dans un état de soumission, cela l’aurait-il dérangé ? En plein milieu de ma quarantaine, j’aurais sûrement été ravi de me retrouver doté de jambes et pieds supplémentaires de manière inattendue. Encore plus de membres pour ressentir des choses, je suppose. Et puis, cela aurait probablement bénéficié à tout ce tournage en rond anxiogène. Plus réalistiquement, Gregor Samsa aurait continué sa laborieuse trotte existentielle, participant à des réunions Zoom, son microphone et sa caméra désactivés, sans que ses collègues ne remarquent rien. Il semble bien que l’absurde soit contextuel.

J’atterris finalement à Francfort, où je dus assister à une réunion en ligne et réaliser deux examens finaux pendant mon escale de quinze heures. De là, je pris l’avion jusque Vienne et atterrissai dans un aéroport sans contrôle aux frontières. L’absurdité d’avoir à réaliser deux tests Covid successifs le même jour sans avoir à jamais les présenter est exaspérante et une véritable source d’anxiété. Je ne pourrai pas penser à une définition plus adéquate que celle de Kierkegaard sur l’affirmation de l’anxiété comme étant le « vertige de la liberté ». Se faire dire qu’il faut présenter un test PCR négatif aux autorités à l’arrivée, pour finalement ne trouver aucune autorité à qui le présenter, nous force rapidement à atteindre un certain niveau d’autosurveillance que seules les personnes qui ont fait l’expérience de cette situation peuvent comprendre. Ce vertige me prit alors que je traversai la frontière en direction de Brno où, encore une fois, j’arrivai sans aucun contrôle de la part des autorités.

De retour à Brno, je me sentis comme un étranger dans une ville que j’avais pourtant appelée « maison » pendant deux ans. Je n’étais parti que trois mois, ça me semblait donc singulier de m’appeler un « étranger ». C’était encore plus singulier de me rappeler qu’en fait, j’étais un étranger. Un citoyen d’un pays du tiers-monde à qui on a accordé les mêmes opportunités qu’aux étudiants européens. Chanceux d’avoir pu participer à ce semestre d’échange tout court. Vous voyez, les notions de “chez-soi” et d’identité sont challengés lorsqu’on part en Erasmus. Inévitablement, où que l’on aille, ces lieux deviennent une petite part de nous-mêmes. On essaie de se comprendre soi-même à travers les lieux où nous nous trouvons. Là repose l’affirmation suivante : l’Erasmus est un exercice de la pensée existentialiste. Une conversation entre soi et la société à propos de ce qui fait de nous ce que nous sommes : les valeurs auxquelles ont croit, et le type de bien, de positif que l’on veut soutenir.

Alors, quand on nous demande ce qu’est l’expérience Erasmus, que devrions-nous répondre ? Devrait-ce être une réponse basée sur les cours suivis et les crédits obtenus ? Sur les nouvelles relations et les relations défaites ? Pour définir l’essence de quelque chose, Hussel nous dit de considérer à la fois ce qui est nécessaire et invariable à son être. Le programme a des définitions très spécifiques de ce que nous avons à obtenir en y participant, mais il ne présuppose rien de ce qui est à gagner en dehors des notes. Ainsi, alors qu’il y a définition, il n’y a pas signification. Ou du moins, pas de signification prédéfinie. Ce qui est nécessaire et invariable à notre expérience Erasmus, c’est notre engagement dans celle-ci. Elle est, comme la vie, ce qu’on en fait.

Madame Europe: l’Europe vue par ses fils

Je m’appelle Martina et je suis fille d’Europe. Ma mère est née il n’y a pas très longtemps, bien que son prénom, inspiré de la mythologie grecque, soit bien plus

Pour moi, l’expérience Erasmus était l’occasion de contempler les abysses, l’incertitude de ce qui est à venir. L’opportunité de déconstruire les valeurs que j’avais adoptées au cours du temps, contre l’intégration et la globalisation rendues manifestes. Bien plus qu’un pronostic lugubre, l’absence de signification est en fait une invitation – une invitation à ce qui, indubitablement, est une grande opportunité d’épanouissement personnel. Un chapitre à relire, on l’espère, pour dire que cela nous a rendu plus confiants dans notre tentative d’être bons pour le monde et pour les personnes qui nous entourent. Une opportunité de vivre avec authenticité, au sens existentiel. D’accepter le poids qu’implique la compréhension de ce que sera concrètement notre expérience : un agglomérat de nos différentes façons de pratiquer la liberté que nous a offerte l’expérience Erasmus. Nous sommes arrivés à l’université prêts à apprendre et à challenger nos croyances. L’Erasmus prend cette hypothèse et la magnifie.

Un mois plus tard, après avoir validé l’extension de mon permis de séjour, je peux finalement retourner en France, où je passerai le reste de mon semestre. Ce voyage de retour fut moins compliqué que le précédent. Je retrouve ma chambre, mon corps exténué et ma tête encore prise de vertige à la vue de la liberté qui m’est allouée. J’essaie de retrouver mes repères et j’appuie, quel que soit le nombre de pieds que j’ai, sur le sol.

L’expérience Erasmus va vous allouer une quantité sans précédent de responsabilités. Votre expérience sera ce que vous voudrez qu’elle soit, et en retour elle sera la vôtre, unique. Comme le dit Camus, « nous sommes tous des cas exceptionnels » ; et l’expérience Erasmus nous donne les rênes pour rendre notre cas exceptionnel.

Jerry Yao

traduit par Laura Poiret


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