My success story: “Erasmus: Once and Forever”

    Ayaulym Sarybayeva

    4th year student at KazUIR&WL named after Ablaikhan.

    Participant of Erasmus+ at University of Poitiers

     My success story: “Erasmus: Once and Forever”

     Every student wants to have unforgettable experiences in their academic and social life. I’m grateful the Erasmus+ program became an unbeatable partner when planning a semester abroad. My curiosity to discover the entire world led me to learn foreign languages, and as a result I started to learn French. A person who learns another language learns a new way of thinking, a new world, and is no longer the same person they were before. At the end of January, I met several Erasmus students from France who came to study at our university. After spending some time with them and learning more about France, I began to want a semester in France more and more. I started to prepare for this call of Erasmus at that time: taking extra courses of French, learning about French culture, studying the French education system. The whole application process was a fun challenge: to research the country, I’d like to discover as well as finding out what I’d like to do at the prospective university. After a month of preparing my application, I waited for the response with crossed fingers. I didn’t think I had the highest chances in the last year of my bachelor’s, but a little dreamer inside me believed in the goal I wanted to achieve for so long. In the beginning of June, I received the acceptance letter I had hoped for from the University of Poitiers. I already knew it would be an exceptional part of my student life. Applying for studies abroad is not as simple as it may seem. I ended up applying for my visa twice in the USA. After the preparation of numerous documents, buying flight tickets, boosting my French language skills, I finally arrived in Paris. I visited the city two years ago while traveling with my friends, but this time it seemed so inviting because I knew I would be living in France long term.

    Photo:“In Paris with my friends from the USA”

     From the beginning I wanted to be integrated into French life, and I think I accomplished my mission very well. I had two friends from Poitiers I had met in Almaty who helped me with anything I asked for. When I arrived at the train station, my friend’s mother came to meet me and soon I saw my French family in which I would integrate throughout the semester.

    Photo: “Our international family driving home”

     My adventure in France started with being locked in the local supermarket. After spending a couple of days with my French family, I moved to the students’ residence. I went to the supermarket to get some food. While reading ingredients and learning products’ names I didn’t notice the time and the supermarket closed. Having paid, I decided to exit through the back door, but they were closed, every door was closed, and everyone had already left. After several attempts to open the doors, I got caught by security personnel; he checked my bags and the food I bought there. I was so frightened and instantly started to cry, but they recognized the situation and unexpectedly gave me a ride to the dormitory. At least I have something to tell my grandchildren in the future, and I know how to say in French: “I got lost. I’m a foreign student here in France. I came to buy some food.” I’ll remember that day forever, and it still makes me smile.

    The university staff gave us a friendly welcome: we received welcome gifts and many guidelines and rules of the university. I had my student visa approved for 3 months by mistake, but the international office of the University of Poitiers aided me to extend my stay there. I was worried I would need to leave the country early, but they extended it until January!