“TO BE ERASMUS+ OR NOT TO BE, THAT IS THE QUESTION” – TURAL (AZERBAIJAN)
A recent study about the Erasmus study abroad program showed that it is responsible for 1 million babies, indicating that, besides studies, students find their long-term partner during their time abroad. No less of a miracle is how children discover more and more about the world that surrounds them, and the skills they develop while growing up. We as adults now have that opportunity to do exactly this through the Erasmus+ programme. Read on for my experience of being the Erasmus+ programme and all the exciting information about it!
My motto is: “No matter which country or institution becomes your destination, your view of life will be broadened, your experiences enriched, your talents will be sharpened or even discovered, and the doors to exciting possibilities opened.” Besides living in Estonia and studies at my university, I am thankful for the Erasmus+ projects to fulfil my dreams and develop my skills in many different areas. So what is Erasmus+ and what kind of opportunities does it provide?
Back in my country, I was really active in organizations and volunteering. However, when I came to Estonia, I was missing that opportunity a bit, because not a lot of things in that regard were going on. Of course, there are different events for students, but most of them revolved around partying and socializing, and I am no longer of the age that I can use all my energy and time on parties. So, what changed my life was an advertisement in one of the groups, calling for participants for Erasmus+ project. First, I wasn’t sure about the name, as this was previously called ‘Youth in Action’. Thus, I thought it is only for Estonians living in Estonia. After talking with the organization, I found out that anyone could be part of this huge network, as long as you’re a resident of that country or you have a long-term visa. These projects take place all over Europe and neighboring countries, enabling you to visit them, and to experience and learn about their culture, as well as acquire and share knowledge with like-minded people also participating in that particular project.
Every time when I was posting different photos from the different countries, my friends and relatives started questioning: ‘Are you a billionaire? How do you manage to spend so much money on trips, etc.’ Last time, yet again, I was asked these questions, and it made me think of writing about this topic. So firstly, one thing I want to scream out from top of my lungs is that: It’s FREE! To make a long story short, Erasmus+ is a project funded by the European Commission to give opportunities for the youth, so they can share their knowledge and develop themselves through non-formal education.
So, what benefits do you get as being part of it?
You become part of something amazing! You get to meet like-minded people from across Europe who want to change the world or something in it and get to establish cooperation and friendships with them, as well as acquire knowledge and skills – and as mentioned it’s free, meaning your travel expenses, accommodation, and food is covered! Also most importantly, you will get a certificate, which is called a YouthPass. You can easily use this certificate for your CV or in most of the European countries, if the project is relevant to your studies, you can get ECTS – accreditation from it which get added to your grade system. Of course, it is also a great opportunity to travel to those amazing cities and countries since in addition to learning about some topic, you also have free time to discover the beauty of the places. Thanks to such projects, I have been to many amazing cities, such as Cadiz, Catania, Lyon, Krakow, and many more. In my recent project in Sweden, thanks to the Shokkin group, I learned how to write projects. In Poland, besides discussing unemployment issues, I also managed to see the depressing history of Auschwitz and one of the UNESCO heritage salt mines, located not far from Krakow. In Spain, being in the ‘creative zone’ thanks to Youth Senate Tallinn as my sending organization, I managed to learn how to surf, saw a real flamenco dance and tasted Sangria. And in December I hope I will be in Ireland for my next project. But most importantly these projects allow you to represent – to become ambassadors of the countries.
So, do you want to be part of this great experience? As I said earlier, no matter which country or institution becomes your destination, your view will be broadened, and your experiences enriched. So, let these opportunities open the door wide open for you! These are the organizations looking for active participants for such Erasmus+ projects: Youth Senate Tallinn, Shokkin group, Together Estonia and MTÜ Noored Ühiskonna Heaks. Look them up on Facebook and get in touch with them, and take part in this amazing experience!
In the end, I would like to share with you the new interesting projects coming up in October-November 2016. These projects still have places for the people who reside in Estonia. Spread the word around about these.
16.10 – 24.10 “European Fairy Tale”, youth exchange, Differdange, Luxembourg by Together Estonia
25.10 – 02.11 “Rights and freedom: Responsibility and Duty”, seminar, Arry, France by Together Estonia
02.11 – 10.11 “New Ideas”, youth exchange, Loisy, France by Together Estonia
08.11 – 16.11 “You can be a hero”, youth exchange, Riterio Krantas, Lithuania by Youth Senate Tallinn
14.11 – 22.11 “Be Yourself”, youth exchange and also “Citizen Laboratory”, seminar, Sion, France by Together Estonia
In case you are interested, or have any questions, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or the host organizations.
https://www.facebook.com/YouthSenateTallinn/ – the facebook page for Youth Senate Taliinn
http://www.shokkin.org/projection-2-9-september-2016-orebro-sweden/ – an overview of the project which I participated in Sweden