“Try to always enjoy the moment, because you never know what comes next” – interview with Sílvia Raventos
While there is a global pandemic, students all around Europe continue to go on exchange programs, using the opportunities given by Erasmus+. In the past semester, among these students, we could welcome Sílvia Raventos from Barcelona, Spain at the University of Pécs. Sílvia, who is a 3rd year BA student, studying Humanities, completed her semester at the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, taking wide-ranging courses from English literature to politics and enjoyed it so much, she is coming back for spring too. She was also happy to tell us about her experiences in Pécs, as an Erasmus student during COVID-19.
Nowadays people barely leave their own houses, let alone their country. Still, you have chosen to go on Erasmus. What was your motivation, why did you come despite the pandemic?
Since the first year of university I knew I wanted to spend some time studying abroad. I really wanted to go and although we have no idea when this pandemic is going to end, I told myself if I have the chance I should do it. Nobody I knew went to Hungary, so it was a little bit of a mystery, I didn’t know what to expect – but I actually liked that, it is what makes it interesting. But I was also aware that the coronavirus is the same in Spain and in Hungary, so that doesn’t really matter.
Did you do a research about the pandemic situation in Hungary before you came? Were you afraid to leave?
I knew that in Hungary the situation was much better than in Spain, but I also knew that it was much more difficult to enter the country. Once I found out I could cross the border and enter Hungary, it was fine. Of course I wish there was no coronavirus, because Erasmus could be much better without it, but as I said, corona is everywhere so we could be equally afraid of it everywhere.
What difficulties arose in connection with your travel, problems you did not have before, while traveling?
I was of course nervous because of travelling and leaving home to live in another country – the pandemic situation just made that even worse. I didn’t know what to expect, or who to turn to for information, which made it much harder to enter the country, especially because I wasn’t sure about the papers I had to bring with me. Although it wasn’t so difficult to get to Hungary, crossing the border wasn’t so easy either: I had to contact the Hungarian police and ask for permission. But the travelling was absolutely normal; the plane and everything was fine and the prices were okay too.
Had you received any preliminary information from the University about your courses and what you can expect?
When the courses went online in November, we received information from the Dean’s office, so it was nice. Before that it was a little bit chaotic, but we got the professors’ e-mail addresses, so we could write them and they answered really fast which was also very good. Of course I prefer in person courses, because university is about going in and meeting people – online is just not the same, so I hope in spring we can also have some in person.
Erasmus is not only about lessons and learning inside the classroom, but also about international parties, gastronomy and traveling. Did you have any opportunities at all for these?
Well at the beginning there were some programs but I couldn’t go because I was in quarantine, waiting for my PCR results. Then later on some of them got cancelled because of corona, so I didn’t really have the opportunity to go to these programs. There were some events where I wanted to go, for example the country presentations where people introduced their home countries and showed their national food, but sadly I couldn’t. And when the courses went online, they also cancelled all of these programs too.
But in the beginning we could check out some bars and restaurants, and we liked that a lot. Pécs is much calmer than Barcelona, I really enjoyed that. I could also make a lot of friends and I want to spend more time with them, so that’s the main reason why I am coming back for next semester. Actually, a lot of Erasmus students are extending now for the second semester, so maybe we can try more of these programs in spring.
Looking back for the past few months what would you advise for those going on Erasmus during the spring term?
In the beginning it seems a lot, because you have to do many things and you don’t know where to go and what to do. But don’t stress, you are going to like it a lot! And try to enjoy it from the very first day; don’t wait until you have everything under control because you don’t know what is going to happen later on.