Hi! My name is Tereza Mitakou and I was an Erasmus student at the Literature, Drama and Creative Writing department in UEA last spring semester. Coming from Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece, I knew that life in England would be much different than what I was used to, and it is true that I encountered many surprises during my stay, ranging from trivial matters (like English taps :P) to more important differences like how punctual and organised everyone was. My experience studying abroad definitely contributed to shaping who I am today, and made me feel stronger and more sure of myself when it comes to living somewhere on my own and adapting there.
Being an English literature student, I selected UEA exactly because it is well-known for being one of the top universities in this area, and I can say that I was fully pleased with the quality of my seminars and my teachers. Even though the workload was quite heavy, I really enjoyed studying the courses I had selected. My favorite course was Gender in American Culture, where I had the opportunity to explore the idea of gender in old and modern day America and American culture, and which I would characterize as a very eye-opening and enlightening course. In fact, it made me consider Gender Studies as one of the possible Masters options for my future. UEA’s library of course helped me throughout the year and I can say that I miss its facilities and the variety of study spaces that I could choose from.
However, my semester in UEA was not all just about studying! One of the most important things for me is the people that I got to meet, who were from different nationalities than me, but who eventually became my close friends and my family for my time abroad. I became friends with students from all around the world: Korea, Norway, Turkey, the Czech Republic, and many more! And this is what I am thankful for; being able to broaden my horizons and meet new cultures and traditions, all in one place which brought us together. Memories like celebrating the New Lunar Year with my Korean friends, trying traditional Czech pancakes, traveling to London with my friends, or celebrating Greek Easter with my international family in my backyard will stay with me forever. At UEA I also discovered and tried many things that I hadn’t before, such as joining the Salsa and Yoga societies. I was also quite amazed at how open to difference and progressive UEA is, and how it protects and promotes diversity, whether that has to do with racial diversity or a person’s sexual orientation.
Of course, like all study abroad students I did all the touristy things like enjoying a plate of fish and chips, going out for ciders, and taking photos at the red telephone booths, but having stayed in England for five months, I can say that I really felt the English culture and way of life, and noticed serious improvement in my language skills.
All in all, what I can say about my semester in UEA is that I have gained much as an individual and have met so many people from different backgrounds which would have otherwise been impossible. This mentality of mobility has definitely stayed with me, and I feel, will become a way of life, rather than just a one-time experience, and all of this thanks to Erasmus and UEA.