Meet Nina Mijoč, a professional football player from Dubrovnik, Croatia who found time in her busy schedule to join ESN and help make Erasmus+ programme better for the generations to come.

Sport plays a great role in my life as it keeps me healthy and active. I can say I am a sports person, so playing sport is important for me. I think sports also play the important role of imparting my character values; it helps me make myself a better person for sure. Playing sports taught me teamwork, learning to follow rules and respecting teammates. As a child, when I was six years old I started playing tennis, and I was training almost every day. But when I was 12, I stopped my tennis career, and I started to play football which was my first and true love. I now play football on a professional level in Croatia’s First League for women. It is my self-expression and I can say my identity is tied up in these two sports.

Do you find it difficult to maintain a healthy lifestyle while being a student?
As we all know, maintaining a healthy lifestyle can be difficult as a student. So it was the same in my situation. It is always easier to let bad habits rule over you during this stressful time but I didn’t allow bad habits to be part of my everyday life. It is not so easy to deal with tight budgets and food choices, classes throughout the day and lack of motivation but I think it is important how mentally strong person you are. I think even as a busy student, you should find time to take care of yourself. We should all be kind to our minds and bodies by living as healthy as possible.

Was sports career an obstacle for your mobility?
To be honest, it wasn’t so easy to go on a mobility because I wasn’t sure I will get to play sports abroad. I was thinking a lot what to do, should I risk and go on mobility or should I stay in Croatia and lose this great chance to study abroad. I terminated the contract with my football club and go on mobility. I do not regret it at all, it was one of the best decision I have ever made.

How did you benefit from playing football on Erasmus?
During my first week on mobility, I had found a club to play football for. It was important to me and playing football there marked my whole mobility. I was thrilled, and I was feeling better because I represented my Erasmus university. I spent my Erasmus at the University of Adam Mickiewicz in Poznan, Poland and I was playing football for the university club during whole mobility. My teammates and all coaches were amazing to me and it helped me feel like home on and off the pitch. For me, it was a great experience to play Championship in Poland and my team won first place, which was an amazing result.

Did it help you deal with stressful situations and how?
Of course, it helped me a lot to deal with the stressful situation because through the sport I improve my confidence and it teaches me how to balance my emotions. Also in all stressful situations, I knew that I had my team behind me.

Did you appreciate this kind of integration into the local community?
I am so thankful to all coaches and teammates who helped me and who gave me an opportunity to play sports during my mobility. It made my mobility better, my stay in Poznan nicer and my integration into the local community easier.

What would be your message to other students who have a sports career and want to go on Erasmus?
Don’t think too much, just take the opportunity to go and study abroad. You can do it both - play sports and experience mobility. It can just bring you great things, amazing experience and it can definitely help you make yourself a better person.