The Dutchess Diaries: the story of an Erasmus student in Notts


Seasons come and seasons go, but one thing will never change: the holidays always pass by too fast! Before the holidays had started, I really dreaded the idea of having to stay in Nottingham for a few more weeks, while most of my friends were going home as soon as their last class had finished. Yet, those weeks turned out to be so much better than expected, thanks to all the visits I got from my friends and family. Shortly before the holidays started, my best friend Valerie (who was doing her Erasmus in London) was the first to make her way to spend a weekend with me. I had already visited her in London twice before, but I was so happy to finally be able to show her around my city. We spent our nights partying, and our afternoons sleeping: just how student life is supposed to be. Less than a week after Valerie had left, Charlotte arrived: another one of my closest friends from home. When Charlotte was here, we went to Wollaton Park and Birmingham: both of which I had also never been before. We also went to the Rescue Rooms for karaoke, had dinner at Yo Sushi and spent a lot of time catching up; seeing each other again after three months simply beats all Skype-sessions you could ever have. Too soon, Charlie had to leave again. Fortunately, the week that followed went by really fast, and in the weekend I welcomed my next visitor: Matty, another one of my best friends. With Matty, I had a lot of firsts: we went to Bopp at the Bowery (which I totally loved!), saw Nottingham Castle from the inside, had a delicious English pudding and finished our weekend together with a traditional Sunday roast. Having my amazing friends visit me made me realise that, besides making a lot of new friends, your exchange is also a time at which you will get to know your ‘old’ friends even better. There are some friends with whom you will lose touch, others who will make the time and effort to Skype with you regularly, and then there are those friends who – literally – will cross the channel for you…


Matty’s visit wasn’t the last one on the agenda: a few days after she had left, my parents and my brother came to Nottingham for a week! With them I did all the usual family things: sightseeing, relaxing, shopping and eating out. Additionally, I spent Christmas away from home for the first time in my life. Yet, since my family was here, it actually did not make that big a difference to me. We may not have had a nicely decorated Christmas tree or a big family dinner, but that didn’t matter. After spending Christmas here, I flew home with my family on Boxing Day. Going home, even though it was just for a week, felt so good: I saw some of my friends, got to walk around in my hometown again and had the chance to refuel before returning to Nottingham. Weirdly enough, the first few days after my return I was really homesick: I missed my family and friends and didn’t want to do anything at all. Fortunately, the homesickness went away really soon after seeing my friends here again. And now it’s already the end of January… At the end of this month, I have to submit two essays and sit one exam, so the time has come to really start studying now. Quite a contrast compared to the previous months here. But I like to think of myself as a good planner (ahum…), so I am sure I’ll find enough time to also enjoy my final weeks in Nottingham. After all, you only go on Erasmus once!


May-Anne Oltmans