Thinking makes us intelligent, it is what defines us as human beings. There is nothing more fascinating than a moment of realisation, where your old methods are questioned. This is a moment of broadening horizons. Erasmus+ is an incredible experience for people that may never have the chance or possibility of broadening their horizons.
On the other hand, people that experience Erasmus+ already know what an exciting experience it is and what great benefits it can bring to their lives. Not only are you travelling abroad to a faraway place, but you are also on the front line of experiencing day to day life in a different country. Getting to know diverse cultures, using a foreign language which is so different from your mother tongue. Trying exotic tastes in a little street market, working in your field of study, and observing other ways of doing things, using different vocabulary and different approach to working tasks. These instances are when you know that your experience was successful, when on your way back home you have that feeling of satisfaction and an open mind. A fresh new look at the future path that you have chosen.
Just imagine being young with big dreams but not many opportunities. You might come from a disadvantaged family or small town where everyone believes that big dreams are out of reach. You feel disheartened but you know there is something out there waiting… but how do you get there? You could come from a socially rich background where big city lights get you to sleep every day, you crave new travels and adventures that could help you express yourself differently. Well, I am confident in saying that Erasmus+ will welcome you with open arms and help you on your path to happiness as it did to me 27 years ago when it was first established.
Since then, the Erasmus+ programme had supported 3.3 million Erasmus+ students and 470,000 staff. In 1987, 3,244 students from 11 countries spent a study period abroad through Erasmus+. During 2013-14 some 34 countries took part in the programme: the 28 EU Member States, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland, Turkey and for the first time, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. With a budget of over €580 million in 2013-2014, the highest annual amount of the seven-year period, 272,000 students and over 57,000 staff spent time abroad.
The flexibility and opportunities this project offered gave a new perspective to students and teachers around the world, where all barriers were overcome, and countless benefits gained.
For me personally and I am speaking from my own experiences, the Erasmus+ project is meaningful for all parties taking part. I have been working for over 12 years in customer-facing roles in different fields but until I organised my first Erasmus+ project, absolutely nothing made me happier and prouder than the smile on a participant’s face while undertaking their project.
The complexity of tasks, all put together to create the perfect work experience or language project takes a few weeks. With Erasmus+, everything has meaning and a reason, and this can be seen in detail. Whether you prefer to stay with a local host family which gives you that safe, homely feeling where you will be able to communicate directly in a foreign language and try some homemade food, or you prefer a high-standard hotel for a more comfortable setting, or the option of a very friendly hostel where you could feel rather independent, there’s lots of choice. Spain, Italy, Germany, Poland, Portugal, Malta, Ireland, Greece, France, Hungary – these are only few destinations where Erasmus+ can be undertaken and there are no limitations to the things you can do.
Of course, there are moments when students sometimes feel overwhelmed and that is completely natural. It can be caused by many different factors such as a language barrier, feeling homesick and cultural differences. However, with a little help from friends and kindly organisers problems of an emotional nature can be overcome and become part of the experience. This makes you more confident and focused. Many students start to understand their boundaries and limitations, which helps them in the future to have better understanding of their work/life balance.
Overall Erasmus+ it is a great project surrounded by wonderful people and super opportunities.