I remember browsing with excitement the Erasmus Mundus website after I got the information from an online newsletter.
I remember saying a little prayer when I mailed my application documents at the post office.
I remember completing the “simbang gabi” as I wanted so much to be accepted and so I have made it my special intention, my Christmas wish.
I remember feeling sad when I got the letter of rejection from Roskilde University and feeling elated but confused when I got a second notification that I was accepted at the University of Aarhus. (I don’t remember applying there!) I found out later that Aarhus University had just joined the Comundus Consortium.
I remember attending several “despedida” parties by my students (at least 5 from different batches), my colleagues, my friends and my family. It made me realize that I will be terribly missed!
I remember arriving at the bus stop near the train station in downtown Aarhus and anxiously searched for the lady who was carrying the paper with my name on it. The lady was my mentor who happened to be pregnant that time.
I remember Prof. Per Jauert of Aarhus University, who exuded kindness and understanding even in his emails. This was further validated when I met him in person. He told me that I am the first and only scholar that the university is hosting that year.
I remember feeling embarrassed when I was introduced in my classes because I arrived in Denmark three weeks after school has started!
I remember the fun experience of working with my group mates for the visual media class where we produced two television campaigns. It proved to me that indeed, there is unity in diversity.
I remember my crushes: Lucca from Italy (dorm mate) and Ronny from Sweden (classmate).
I remember the fun and difficulty of learning the Danish language.
I remember my funny attempts at cooking and the fulfillment of successfully “feeding” myself.
I remember window-shopping at Bruun’s Galleri and strolling along Strøget. By then, I had fallen in love with H&M and have become the shop’s frequent customer.
I remember how my dorm mates reacted when I told them that I can’t bike.
I remember becoming a fan of Danish songs, especially those of TV2 and some contemporary Danish artists.
I remember Eddy, Armando, Martijn, Jesus, Anne-Louise, Ania, Patsarin, Sven; the dorm mates I met during my last term in Denmark. They are amazing people to be with and I like them even better than those I met during the first term.
I remember surviving my first Christmas away from home and was surprised to discover that I did not feel homesick. I am thankful to Imelda, my new Filipina friend and Lars, her Danish husband, who invited me to spend Christmas with them.
I remember the delight of experiencing snow and winter. I actually took a “snow shower” to really get the feel of it.
I remember the 7 months of crazy and great times in London: attending classes at IOE, taking salsa lessons at ULU, walking along Oxford Street, coffee-ing with my fabulous girls, hanging out at Russell Square Park, attending theme parties at the IOE cafeteria, having meals and being in parties at John Adams Hall, exploring the sights and sounds of Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus, having a three-day birthday celebration (which has the dinner in a Pinoy restaurant as the highlight), dressing up for the IOE spring ball, enjoying the bus and tube rides, watching movies at the Prince Charles Cinema for a pound, seeing Jeremy Irons and Christian Slater perform on stage, crying while watching The Phantom of the Opera and Les Miserables, and wondering at the unpredictability of London weather.
I remember being amazed by the collections at the British Museum and being challenged to see all of it, which I was not able to do.
I remember Prof. Robert “Bob” Ferguson of IOE, for all his wisdom and beautiful British accent. Attending his classes was something not to be missed.
I remember Sophie, Ansuyah, Maia and Anastasia (we are collectively known as the fabulous five), for the beautiful women that they are. Our friendship knows no race, color and culture.
I remember the hen party (bridal shower) we held for our dear friend Anastasia. It was indeed a crazy, fun night at a Greek restaurant. It ended with the famous Greek ceremony of plate-breaking.
I remember appreciating soccer and watching the world cup games in London.
I remember feeling anxious after submitting my course papers and asking: to pass or not to pass? That was the question. Then I remember feeling relieved after knowing I passed!
I remember meeting the Viking of my heart the day after Christmas in 2005 and how the winter days became lovelier soon after.
I remember the pleasures of living an independent life and of appreciating what that means.
I remember the moments of solitude.
I remember crying on my way back home. I was overwhelmed by all the beautiful memories of Europe.
And I remember feeling grateful to have been given that once in a lifetime experience.
Shiella C. Balbutin
Erasmus Mundus/Comundus (2005-2007)
University of Aarhus, Denmark; Institute of Education, University of London, England