Erasmus, what is that?



 

Many of us still think at the Erasmus as the possibility for European students to go for some months abroad, often more for enjoying than for studying. In reality, this is just one of the many opportunities the Erasmus+ programme offers. We decided to make a post to go through some of them, sharing our own experiences – as not only students, but literally everyone can find something interesting and developing within this framework. Here we will focus mostly on opportunities for individuals, and it is not meant to be a comprehensive list, but rather an account of the options we know better in this vibrating but chaotic galaxy.

If you are between 18 and 30 years old...

  • European Solidarity Corp (ESC, previously known as EVS) – you can become a volunteer in another country, helping a local organization operating in a field of your interest. You can choose short term (up to 2 months) or long term volunteering (between 2 and 12 months). The Erasmus covers your expenses for accommodation, food and provides small pocket money. There are many projects all over Europe available, you can google them, join facebook groups focused on Erasmus opportunities (some of them are listed below) or check more information here: https://europa.eu/youth/solidarity/young-people/about_en.

  • Youth Exchange – it's a few-days international event which gathers youth from different countries to discuss and co-create activities related to particular topics, for example art, digital transformation, ecology, etc. Usually there are 4-5 participants from each country, including one leader, who supports participants with logistics and language. The Erasmus covers travel, accommodation, food and programs. The easiest way to join a Youth Exchange is to find a local organization which is part of the Erasmus network, but some opportunities can be also found in various Erasmus groups on facebook.

We don't have much experience with this part of the Erasmus+, we haven't done ESC although we know lots of people who did (or who hosted volunteers) and for many it was a deep, self-developing experience. We also co-organized one Youth Exchange about responsible consumption.

If you are a student...

  • … yes, yes, yes, go for “the” Erasmus - one or two semesters exchange in a university of another European country. Sometimes we tend to dismiss this experience as a waste of time because we underestimate the impact of living and working side by side, creating strong bonds with people never seen before, coming from all quarters of Europe and the world. It can be literally life-changing. In fact, we met during Anna's Erasmus year in Portugal and you know where it took us. Really transformative, more important than anything else she did at the university.

If you are a youth worker, educator, project coordinator, teacher, etc. (no age limit)...

  • Training Course – you can take part in a few-days international training, which is similar to a Youth Exchange, but focused on developing specific knowledge and skills, rather than just giving you the international experience. The Erasmus+ covers travel, accommodation, food, and programs. One way to find a suitable training is to use Salto website (www.salto-youth.net/tools/european-training-calendar/browse/), where you find a description of all available courses. Pay attention if there is any fee for the training (as some of the organizations may require a cost) and also which countries are allowed to apply – not all trainings are open for all countries (what matters is the country you live in, rather than your country of origin). As ExChange The World we often co-organize trainings, so you can follow our FanPage and apply for one. :) We also still take part in training courses organized by others, which is an amazing learning and networking opportunity.

If you are thinking about opening a business or have one opened no more than 3 years (no age limits)...

  • Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs (www.erasmus-entrepreneurs.eu/index.php?lan=en) – this is a separate programme, not connected to the Erasmus+. It allows you to apply for 1 to 6 months exchange experience in another country. The idea is to collaborate with an experienced entrepreneur of choice to develop your knowledge and skills as well as widen your professional network. The Erasmus pays a monthly scholarship, which is supposed to cover your daily expenses. The amount depends on the country, but it's much higher than the usual student scholarship for Erasmus exchange. Erasmus helps you also with finding the proper experienced entrepreneur, giving you access to a database and facilitating the process (although it must be said it's not really user-friendly – readers at the Erasmus headquarters, fix that, please!!). There is no specific deadline for applying and your application cannot be really rejected, although you can be asked to improve it. Thanks to this programme we had our experience in Ireland. The process was fairly different between Poland and Italy, but finally we managed to receive the scholarship for 3 months for Andrea and 4 months for Anna. You are not obliged to open your company after the experience, but you need to prepare a business plan to apply. Through the EYE you may even pick countries outside the EU. Which brings us to speak about...

If you are not living in the EU...

  • Erasmus Mundus – all programs described above are offered to people living in the European Union and in some cases to people from countries around the EU. If you look for opportunities worldwide (or you live outside the EU), you can have a look at a programme called Erasmus Mundus, which offers international educational opportunities in various areas. It's not easy to get picked, but also not completely impossible. Anna applied three times for gender master studies, getting a spot during the third round (and rejecting it at the end, as we had already decided to start our travel around the world ;) ). More information: https://ec.europa.eu/programmes/erasmus-plus/opportunities/individuals/students/erasmus-mundus-joint-masters-scholarships_en


As mentioned, all the opportunities described above are directed to individuals. If you lead or are part of an organization, there are many more opportunities to start or deepen your international work and collaboration by organizing the activities mentioned above – youth exchanges and training courses; hosting international volunteers; sending staff or adult learners to job shadowing, international courses, and much more. It's not easy to learn and understand the Erasmus+ enough to be able to join it as an organization, but we do believe that it's a good time to do it. A new perspective has just started and whatever you learn about the programme today will be useful for the next 7 years, before strategy and budget will be re-discussed again. We will not describe all the opportunities for organizations, as there are really plenty and many we haven't discovered ourselves yet, but let us mention one new option, that seems to be very suitable for organizations which haven't had any experience with the Erasmus+ yet.


  • Small scale partnership – within this action organization can get 30.000 or 60.000 euro for local and international work in partnership with at least one organization from a different country. Application, and supposedly also reporting, are much easier than in any other action and it allows more flexibility. We've applied for 2 small scale partnership projects, hoping to get at least one, and indeed, it was much easier than anything we wrote for Erasmus so far (which unfortunately doesn't mean easy).


Another easier entry step is to be a partner organization in these actions, for example a Youth Exchange or a Training Course. Your responsibility is mainly in sending participants and flank an experienced organization in applying, handling logistics, budget, reporting, etc. Again, there are groups on facebook or on other media where organizations look for new partners or you can go for your first training course (for example chosen among those in Salto) and start to build your international network.


We've supported some organizations to join the Erasmus+, as much as we were helped before, and we are happy to share our experience or co-create projects together as we do believe that the programme should be more available for everybody. It's through Erasmus that we got to know each other in the first place. ;) And it's also through Erasmus that we developed our skills in areas like social entrepreneurship, storytelling, mindfulness, coaching; we got to know amazing people from all over the world, with some of them starting a long-lasting friendship and/or collaboration.


A short list of facebook groups about Erasmus:

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