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What is Erasmus and who can apply for the programme?

Erasmus is a program founded by the European Commission in 1987 and its aim is to finance international exchange programs. The program is gaining more and more popularity every year and no wonder it does! It is the most commonly known of the many international student exchange programs which give students from all over Europe the opportunity not only to obtain an education but also to experience real life in a foreign country.

The meaning of Erasmus

Erasmus program is all about broadening one’s horizons, exchanging experiences, learning foreign languages and oftentimes an adventure of a lifetime. Do you want to see for yourself what it is like to study abroad? Would you like to know the cultures so close to yours yet still so different? Are you eager to make international friends? That’s exactly what this initiative is for. Erasmus runs in 28 countries within the European Union, 4 countries included in the partnership as a part of the European Economic Area – Lichtenstein, Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and countries lining up for membership of the European Union – North Macedonia, Turkey and Serbia. The list of Erasmus countries is not endless but there is definitely a lot to choose from.

How was the Erasmus exchange formed?

The etymology of the name of the program derives from the name of a great scholar of the renaissance era – Erasmus of Rotterdam. He is the prototype of a versatile student who would study at many various academies and universities. In his time, such practice was actually quite common. But why is Erasmus the one who has been chosen as a patron for the idea of youth exchange and study programs? It’s because of the fact that the scientist is known by all. Besides that, he is a great parenetic model proving that travel does broaden the mind. Secondly, he is well-known to all academically formed people in our part of the world. The choice of the name has symbolic resonance. Renaissance was the epoch of the revival of the antique ideals. The universal ideas on which our world is based.

The program was started by the European Commission on the 15th of July in 1987. Along with the laudable concept of cultural exchange naturally connected with the exchange of experiences and widening horizons, many formal and practical aspects were considered. In a way to let the program work as a part of the academic path and an important component of one’s development, rather than a nice adventure or an interesting addition to the CV.

The below were taken care of considering the previously mentioned aspects:

  • Collaboration of the European universities in terms of education programs
  • Adjustment and coordination of the course of studies
  • Sending students to internships at the liaising institutions, companies, and organisations in European countries for a period from 3 months to 1 academic year
  • Sending academic teachers for training at partner universities and other liaising institutions, organizations, enterprises

Who is Erasmus for?

  • Students: the interested people who qualify for the program can partake in periodic education programs in a chosen country. This way not only can they learn about a subject of their choice but also deepen their knowledge of the foreign language and widen their horizons.
  • Academic teachers: you might think Erasmus youth exchange should be for students only. Yet the definition of youth is much wider in the academic world.

If one is part of the academic corpus and would like to broaden their competencies and exchange experiences with fellow academics from abroad, Erasmus is the answer. One can teach, partake in research, or simply observe the academic life outside of their native university.

Who cannot take part in Erasmus programme?

Those who are on dean’s leave, have not completed their semester with all the credits or those who have taken part in Erasmus program in the past are not entitled to partake in the Erasmus project. According to the founders’ concept, the more gifted students get the chance to be a part of this exceptional enterprise the better.

Where can one go for Erasmus?

In order to receive the funds for Erasmus, a university must apply for a certificate called Erasmus University Charter at the executive agency in Brussels. They can, of course, do that online. It is up to the university to contact the potential partners and establish collaboration in terms of the program. Hence the place a student can choose depends on each and every university and which choices they make.

The possibilities are many and universities don’t hesitate to take advantage. The University of Warsaw has as many as 456 partner universities whereas the University of Copenhagen has approximately 270. Both of the universities have partners in countries like Belgium, United Kingdom, Sweden, Spain, Turkey, Norway, Germany, Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Austria and many others.

How long can one stay? The number of months varies from 3 to 12 depending on the university. This is also up to the fact whether one goes for Erasmus traineeship or Erasmus scholarship. Regardless of the time span of the program you choose we bet you will be wishing your Erasmus days would not end so soon.

How to enrol – step by step

1. Requirements of the native university

Every university has its own criteria that any student applying for the scholarship needs to meet. You should get familiarized with them even if Erasmus is just a shy idea of yours for the time being. This way you will have the chance to prepare to meet the requirements in the future. They often relate to the average of your notes so you should keep in mind that getting decent grades will eventually pay off.

2. Choosing the university

There is a list of universities which collaborate with yours for you to choose from. Once you get familiarized with it it’s time you make the choice. What you should consider while doing so are:

  • The possibility of development in a field of your preference
  • Full offer of the partner university
  • The reviews and opinions of the students who decided to go for Erasmus to the given university in the past
  • The country and the city you would like to go to. It is vital to take into account every little detail you might think of to make the choice as tailor-made as possible. You should not go to the north of Norway if you dislike nature, for example.
  • The estimated cost of living in the chosen place. After all, the foreign exchange cost is something that cannot be taken lightly. Get the information on the subsidy you can obtain at your native university coordinator’s office in order to precisely plan your expenses and avoid a potential crisis.

3. Fulfilling the application

In the application form, you fill the gaps with necessary information like your name, date of birth, personal identification number, citizenship, contact data and the faculty you study at. What’s really important is the certificate from your university with the information that you fulfil the necessary requirements and qualify for the program.

4. Admission to the programme – setting the individual education course

Once you get admitted you must together with both universities’ representatives settle the individual education program. When you do that the next step is filling in the forms of the two universities – the native one and the partner one – with the subjects you chose. This procedure is key as it contains crucial information concerning your education in a foreign university, including the path you want to follow within the time spent abroad.

5. Necessary insurance

You are obliged to have a European insurance pass – in most countries it is called ISIC and you can have it done for you very easily. Your coordinator will provide thorough information on the matter.

Erasmus scholarship – what’s worth knowing?

Erasmus scholarship includes financial support for the international exchange student. The amount of the subsidy is decided by the native university of the student. The National Agency designates the maximum and the minimum amount of the monthly scholarship within the academic year for a group of countries. The amount depends on the cost of living in a country which may be found in the EUROSTAT database. However, it is the native university that decides individually on the sum and usually, it is dictated by the diplomatic rule of mutuality.

The condition of obtaining the scholarship is the obligation to collect no less than 30 credits at the university one is going to. There is no space for a free vacation.

What to know before taking up an overseas exchange

Primarily you should check the cost of living in the country and city you plan to go to (prices of food both in shops and restaurants, public transport). You can do the general research online looking for data on the websites of restaurants, shops but also in discussion groups and on social media. Apart from that, it is crucial to learn about the health care system in your place of preference. Another important factor to be investigated is accommodation. Students often decide to stay in dorms or student flats. Make sure you are well-informed and make a good decision. Your home is a vital part of your life so do choose well!

What else is there to check before leaving?

The basic procedures on your list should include: investigating the cultural sphere of the city or town, whether there are any student discounts, historical sites or other interesting places to see in the surrounding area. What may turn out fascinating is digging deeper and finding your native folk in the foreign land. Europe is not a homogeneous continent because of the multiple migrations from the past and the present. Now is the time to explore that in the most organic way. Whether it is a semester exchange program or a yearly one, you will have enough time to soak in the local atmosphere of the new and exciting experiences you are about to face. All that’s left is to wish you good luck. In the end, you will realize that becoming an exchange student was one of your best decisions.

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