Life without borders: What it means to be an Erasmuser

This year, Europe’s most popular education programme, Erasmus, celebrated its 30th anniversary. One of the programme’s biggest advocates, Umberto Eco, believes Erasmus created the first generation of young Europeans. Now the programme’s successor, Erasmus+, continues to unite young people from around the world under its umbrella of opportunities, ranging from university exchanges to volunteering.

yulia hudoshnyk
Yuliya Hudoshnyk

Erasmus is like a factory, where students learn to live without borders and feel at home anywhere,” says personal development coach Yuliya Hudoshnyk. She is an alumnus of Erasmus Mundus, a sub-programme of Erasmus+ that provides students worldwide with a two-year joint degree from partner universities in Europe and beyond. Hudoshnyk earned a master’s degree in global studies from the University of Leipzig (Germany) and the Roskilde University (Denmark).

She says the Erasmus Mundus programme is unique for giving students the opportunity to experience different approaches to education in different countries and surrounded by fellow students from diverse backgrounds – from Cambridge graduates to alumni of Taras Shevchenko University. The programme helps participants to understand other cultures and make friends for life. “I appreciate these friendships. Wherever my friends are – currently they are on every continent – we keep in touch,” says Hudoshnyk .

Recently, Hudoshnyk attended the wedding of a Taiwanese friend she met through Erasmus. The wedding took place in the Czech Republic. “It’s fantastic! The global world becomes local. We come closer, our cultures come closer. I am really grateful to my universities for this,” says Hudoshnyk.students.jpg

With its diversity and mix of traditions, Erasmus teaches its participants flexibility, and not only in the academic sense. Of her fellow Erasmusers, Hudoshnyk says, “These people don’t have limits. They strive non-stop for development, movement, and border-crossing. We cannot sit still; we need to learn more, work more, see more.”

zhdanova
Kateryna Zhdanova

Ukrainian national universities are also getting more involved in the Erasmus+ programme. “Universities are becoming more interested in cooperating with EU. They understand that such links make higher education more competitive and attractive,” says Kateryna Zhdanova, individual opportunities manager with the National Erasmus+ office in Ukraine. Zhdanova says that Ukrainian participants are the most active in the programme among the Eastern Partnership countries.

In addition to the Erasmus Mundus degree sub-programme, Erasmus+ offers credit mobility for students and professional exchanges for professors and university staff. With credit mobility, a student can study or complete a three-12-month internship at a partner university in Europe. Professional exchanges for university staff can last from five days to two months. The most popular destinations for Ukrainian students and university staff are Germany, Poland, Great Britain, Italy, Spain, and France. Universities are individually responsible for establishing Erasmus partnerships. Prospective participants should inquire with the international departments of their universities about Erasmus options.

With all the benefits it offers, Erasmus+ remains highly competitive. Hudoshnyk recommends starting preparations for application early. Mind your grades, as university transcripts are highly important for successful applications, improve your foreign language skills, and pay special attention to your letter of motivation. It’s also important to be persistent and keep trying. ”I got accepted into many Erasmus Mundus programmes  but wasn’t offered a scholarship. I didn’t give up and finally succeeded.”

For instance, only 44 Ukrainians were granted Erasmus+ scholarships for 2017-2018 master’s programmes. Each scholarship is different for a particular programme and country of origin of a scholarship holder. The scholarships cover all tuition fees, and usually include travel and living allowances and basic medical coverage. Normally, there are early deadlines for applicants who wish to apply for financial aid. So, do not hesitate to check the deadline for a programme you are interested in.

For those who are less interested in academics, Erasmus+ also offers volunteer opportunities across Europe with its European Voluntary Service sub-programme. This is another unique chance for youth to exchange cultures and contribute to local communities in Europe.

Find more Erasmus+ opportunities in our overview.

You can learn about education and training opportunities, scholarships, project proposal writing and more during the International Information Week of the European Union Programme Erasmus+ in higher education to be held on November 6-10, 2017  in Kyiv.  For more information, please visit: http://erasmusplus.org.ua/