Doing an Erasmus or exchange in college can be a life changing experience. It can have an array of benefits; you gain independence, experience and meet amazing people along the way. If you’re thinking of applying for an erasmus year through your college course I strongly urge you do so! If you have to participate in one as a requirement of your course, the thought of it may be daunting but I promise you’ll finish your college year wishing you could do it all over.
What exactly is an Erasmus?
The Erasmus programme, which stands for the European Region Action Scheme for the Mobility of University Students, is an EU funded programme that organises student exchanges. Each exchange is designed to allow students to gain international experience in a foreign country by living there through an internship or study. Erasmus is usually in the third or fourth year of study.
Universities that participate in the Erasmus programme have a number of partner providers across Europe that offer student exchange placements. To be eligible, you have to be registered at a higher education provider that is a partner. The course or internship must be relevant to your course or your personal development needs and be part of the study programme you’re following. When doing an Erasmus you can either go for a year or semester. The EU has budgeted €14.7 billion on Erasmus+ over the seven years of the programme.
Check out, Erasmus+.
How to apply
The application process can be daunting for a student, and while it’s not as difficult as it seems, it’s important to be prepared. I applied through my University, DCU. Firstly I had to select a suitable host from the list of host partners that DCU offered, this will be the same in most colleges. Then I had to get the academic coordinator from my chosen programme to nominate me. Once nominated, you will complete an application through your host University. Once that is all complete you need to acquire the necessary documents for your travel. Firstly, you need to have travel insurance. Secondly you need to fill out a learning agreement, and a certificate of attendance from the start to end of your study period.
For tips on the learning agreement check out this YouTube video
When participating in an Erasmus you do not need to pay fees to attend the host university. Students also receive an Erasmus grant, the amount is decided by the country of study and the period of time you will be studying there. The grant is there to help with additional costs of studying abroad, however should not be relied upon to cover all living expenses.
Why do an Erasmus?
There are so many reasons why students should take advantage of an Erasmus if it is offered to you. You get to live in a new country, meet people from all over the world, make lifelong friends. The opportunity to gain experience in skills and life is too great to miss out on. You also get a chance to learn new educational skills, be it a language or a different subject entirely. If you have the travel bug, I highly recommend partaking in an Erasmus, not only do you get to live in a different country, if you decide to study in Europe it is so easy to travel to neighbouring countries.
I was lucky enough to be able to participate in an Erasmus through DCU. I studied a joint honours arts degree, in law and media studies. Check out, Doing An Arts Degree: Pros and Cons – Babylon.
I loved both subjects but I initially wanted to go through the law stream, however I missed the deadline for applying so be careful of this when applying! Luckily I could still apply through the media stream. I went to DMJX in Denmark, I was lucky enough to get to live in both Aarhus and Copenhagen as the course was split into two different cities. I don’t think that is the norm for most Erasmus courses, however.
It was daunting but it was worth it. I was also the only person from that stream of my course to do on an Erasmus in Denmark. This was out of my comfort zone, going to a new country completely alone with no friends or classmates, but I’m so glad I did. It allowed me to make amazing friendships, lifelong ones with people from all over the world, from South Africa, Canada, Australia, you name it. The friends I made, I still talk to on a regular basis.
The bonds I formed with people is one of my greatest takeaways, these are people I would have never met had I not stepped out of my comfort zone. For me, an Erasmus was a great way to learn more about myself. Through my time abroad, I gained independence from going over alone and only having myself to rely on and confidence through my connections with people.
I also got the chance to travel around different cities in Europe being in Denmark, I got to visit Sweden, Norway, Germany and Belgium. A lot of the time I used a bus service called FlixBus as it’s cheap and accessible. I tended to opt for buses over planes, however sometimes the extra price is definitely worth it over the long bus journeys. I once traveled 22 hours on a bus to get from Aarhus to Brussels.
Tips and tricks from Erasmus students
I asked a few of my friends who also participated in Erasmus for some tips and tricks through a survey.
When asked why did you choose an Erasmus here were a few answers
One thing they wish they knew before going
What was the best thing about your Erasmus?
What advice would you give to future Erasmus students?
I know the option for Erasmus this year is not likely, but in the future if you can avail of it, I strongly urge you to do so, you won’t regret it.