Erasmus exchange during the pandemic times. Interview with a scholarship holder
Erasmus+ is the European Union (EU) programme that supports projects, partnerships, events, and mobility in the areas of education, training, youth, and sport. The Programme provides funding opportunities for cooperation in all these areas, both among European countries and between European countries and Partner Countries throughout the world.
Erasmus+ Higher Education is mainly a student exchange programme that also includes work placements in companies abroad and academic staff mobility. Erasmus+ Higher Education allows students to undertake a part of their studies in another country without additional costs of tuition, registration, or examination. Students obtain a scholarship that covers the costs of living abroad. The time spent studying abroad as well as the courses completed in accordance with the rules of the Programme have to be accepted by the home institution.
Who can participate in the ERASMUS + program?
Students, trainees, apprentices, adult learners, youth, volunteers, teachers, trainers, youth workers, specialists from organizations operating in the field of education are the main target groups of the Programme. For members and member organizations, the conditions for participation depend on the country in which they are based. In order to understand if you qualify for the programme, you need to contact directly your university.
Meet Anastasiia. Anastasiia originally comes from Ukraine. For 2 years she has been studying Economics in Poland. Anastasiia has received an Erasmus scholarship to study at Otto von Guericke University Magdeburg, Germany for one semester.
How did the process of application look like in your case?
My university is famous for international cooperation. Every student has a chance to apply for Erasmus and get a stipend. I have received an email from the Dean`s office with an invitation to the online informational meeting. And, yes, I have decided to apply. First of all, I had to fill in the application form with my CV, motivational letter, and grades. And then in a few weeks, I have received an email with the invitation for the second stage of recruiting – interview. It was funny because it was the shortest interview in my life. I told the commission my average grade and they accepted me without no talking. Then, documents, documents, and documents…
What country did you choose for your Erasmus experience? Why?
I went to Magdeburg, Germany. I chose Germany because I wanted to learn and practice my German language. Now I can speak fluently 4 languages: Ukrainian, Russian, English, and German. This is a very competitive characteristic for employers. Also, I have heard that education in Germany is at a very high level, so I decided to check it. The thing is that education in Germany is much more expensive than in Poland, so without Erasmus help, I would never be able to afford myself studying there.
What are the financial terms?
The program covered me the stipend of 500 Euro per month. The average dormitory price is 500-600 Euro. I have found a room for rent for 400 Euro. The stipend didn`t really cover all my expenses, because on average I spent around 700 Euro per month. However, I managed to cover my expenses without the help of my parents because at the same time I had a paid online internship. In addition, the cost of living seems lower during pandemic times, because I have spent money only on food and accommodation. During my stay in Germany, it was prohibited to visit restaurants and travel around the country.
Overall, the prices in Germany are higher than in Poland, but it is possible to survive there as a student. If I would try harder, I think I could lower my expenses to 550 Euro per month.
How did your studies look like during the pandemic?
The answer is simple – like everywhere: my room, coffee, laptop, and I. All my classes were held online. If we talk about the quality of the lectures, it seemed to be harder than in Poland. I had to spend much more time on my homework. My teachers were amazing though. Unfortunately, I didn’t manage to see them offline.
What was the most valuable experience that you took from this semester?
I think … people. Even if I had all my studies online, I managed to meet my group mates very often. My group was really diverse. There were people from Chile, Palestine, Nigeria, Russia, Vietnam, China, Malaysia, Norway … it will take too much time to count all of the countries. Some of them became true friends of mine. Intercultural communication – the most valuable experience I took from Erasmus. And, also, I have met my boyfriend there :)
The second point would be the experience of studying at Otto von Guericke University Magdeburg. I have received a great knowledge base from another perspective.
What could you advise the students planning to apply for Erasmus?
Do not be afraid. Try everything. Participate. Sure, it can be hard during pandemic times, but still possible! Dive into the culture of the country you chose. Make friends from all around the world. Be confident. I know, that it sounds like a motivational speech from the business coach, but it is like it is.
If you would like to read the interview of the student who has received a scholarship to study at the Jagiellonian University click here.