The COVID pandemic has hugely impacted many areas of the global community – including post-graduate education. Due to health, travel and safety restrictions, many Erasmus+ programmes have had to provide education through an online and/or hybrid format, while students from Europe and abroad continue to face significant hurdles conducting their studies. This is especially true for Erasmus+ exchange students.
It’s been over a year since we’ve all had to learn how to live with COVID-19. With significant changes to our daily routines, our habits and even our hobbies. Additionally, there have been many big changes to how the world now functions, so it comes as no surprise to hear that Erasmus+ mobilities have changed too.
As travel and other restrictions continue to ease throughout Europe, students and faculties share their optimism regarding the future of overseas education. Despite the challenges, many have shared that they have no regrets pursuing higher education in Europe, even during the pandemic. The past couple of years have made Erasmus+ programmes reflect and consider the many ways in which the delivery of education and student experiences can be improved upon.
Now, filling in all those Erasmus+ documents pre-Covid feels like a distant memory and that was the easy part! People had just started talking about Coronavirus during the latter part of 2019, but that topic was not the most important one in daily lives and the unknown virus seemed far away. Everyone knows what happened just a few months later. People had to cope with an emotional rollercoaster and inevitable changes to everyday life. Students (and others) wondered where they’d be just a year later – especially if they had an Erasmus+ mobility planned. While some were still hopeful that their Erasmus+ journey would take place and this helped them get through lockdown, others wondered whether life would ever be the same again.
Things are different now and while an Erasmus+ mobility may not look quite the way students imagined it; with a few more challenges, it is still worth diving into this type of adventure. The chances of going to a huge party may not look as realistic, but taking a walk in nearby forests or exploring a new home in an alternative way will bring another perspective to life. In some areas, students might no be not able to visit the museums, but there’s still an opportunity to pay more attention to the beautiful architecture of a city. Travel might be less easy as before, despite best laid plans, but there will still be time to explore a host country. Last but not least, it might feel impossible to meet all the other Erasmus+ students physically, but there is always a way to approach new people and find common interests. Even online, remotely and safely.