Olivera is a volunteer of Erasmus Student Network in Novi Sad who decided to spice up her life by joining an international organisation and helping out international students on exchange in her hometown. She says that ever since she went on my first exchange in high school, she came to appreciate meeting people from around the world and seeing the world through their eyes. This is a fantastic way to feel like you're travelling even when you're at home, introducing others to your own culture.
When asked about her experiences, she said “My Buddy and I became true friends! I still can't believe how good of a match we are. Honorata is fun and kind and you can see it from the get-go. Getting to know her more just confirmed that!”
“International friendship means always having a home wherever you go.”
This kind of experience brings many unique memories for both local and international students. Studies show that people who have internationalisation at home are more likely to have empathy and less prejudice against others based on nationality. When asked about her favorite memory, Olivera described the perfect winter night: “After a night out, we wound up at the marina with some boys in the middle of a cold night in January. We had beer on the boat and talked about the little things in life. It was spontaneous and seemingly meaningless, but sharing that experience stuck as testimony of our bond.”
The bond between international and local students only grows since 1989 when ESN was first established by a group of former Erasmus students who wanted to help out those who will walk a mile in their shoes. Although there might be comfort in spending time only with people who speak your own language and share your worldview, nothing can change your life to the core like meeting someone from a completely different walk of life and creating a friendship not despite but thanks to the differences.