Erasmus: You go as a child and return as an adult
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines, Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
The Erasmus program is the most famous program financed by the European Union. Born in 1987, it has contributed decisively to the spread of knowledge in the Union and the growth of European citizens. For young people, the Erasmus is often the springboard towards internationalization and a tool to enter the world of work, to live an unforgettable experience in one’s life, but also succeed.
In particular, the Erasmus Plus is the new mobility program of the European Union that embraces, in addition to the field of education, training, youth and sport. The free movement of persons is one of the four fundamental freedoms guaranteed by the legal system of the European Union (together with the free movement of goods, services and capital).
Spending a period of study, work or sports experience abroad offers the ability to fit into a different environment than the one of the country of origin, opening new personal horizons. In addition, the daily contact with a different culture fosters and helps to experience multiculturalism thus having an ideal opportunity to get in touch with one or more different cultures and, at the same time, learning new languages. Finally, the ability to work, study, doing sports activities with people from different backgrounds can create an exchange of ideas and a comparison of experiences thereby reaching a human and professional enrichment.
This innovative program is divided into three different types of activities called Key Activities:
– KA 1: Mobility for learning purposes.
This first major program includes all the activities for university education and personnel work. It is about mobility of youth and students. The European Union has decided to put the training in the first place, in order to reduce the skills gap through opportunities of study or work abroad, encouraging greater cooperation between business and education. Importance was also granted to company employees and workers who are interested in specialization and improvement of their skills. One goal of the program is to ensure a regular innovation of individual skills keeping workers updated or allowing them to reintroduce themselves in the work world, granting scholarships, in the job market thanks to increased competences. KA 1 also concerns young college students who want to continue their studies abroad. The program provides for the possibility of scholarships and funding for the improvement of higher education or advanced degrees and courses that can be funded by EU.
– KA 2: Cooperation.
This second major set of activities includes projects such as strategic partnerships; the Knowledge Alliances and Sector Skills Alliances. This second area of the program can facilitate the integration of the labor markets of other EU countries. It also formally allows the exchange and sharing of best practices through learning cross-cultural and cross-institutional balance between the various organizations participating in the program through the presentation and implementation of projects.
– KA 3: Policies reform.
In this third and final KA, reforms such as the Open Method of Coordination and the European Semester were introduced; also, the use of new training tools by the EU and Political Dialogue that will enable young people to exchange ideas and encourage the formation of political opinions and proposals for all young Europeans. This third set will help young people to acquire additional skills through study and training abroad, to promote the participation of young people in modern society both nationally and internationally and will support teaching and research on European integration.
The great majority of the mobile students wants to live such an experience to have the opportunity to live abroad, to improve their language skills, to form new relationships and to develop skills such as adaptability. They often say: “the current economic situation stimulates us moving abroad and work harder”; “I am undoubtedly a better person thanks to my experience of living and working abroad. I would not be who I am without this. Had I not had these experiences when young, I would have followed a very different professional path”.
Mobile students are usually regarded as having higher tolerance to risk, foreign language proficiency and they do not seem to fear the unknown. Generally speaking, students participating in Erasmus activities experience a great improvement in self-confidence, with work placements resulting top ones in terms of giving the feel of personal gain. Learning to fit in new surroundings, using languages in practice, getting to know work habits of other countries, the possibility of making work contacts abroad are important features in nowadays labour market and could eventually help you in your work experience all over the world. Becoming open minded, self-sufficient, capable to evaluate the real value of money, able to cope with problems on your own and to work under pressure in a team, are essential soft skills that current and future work world requires. All in all international experience is an important recruitment criterion.
Another program financed by the European Union is the Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs. The program offers new entrepreneurs the opportunity to learn the secrets of trade from established professionals already running small or medium-sized enterprises. The exchange of experience takes place within a period of work at the headquarters of the expert entrepreneur, which helps the new entrepreneur to acquire the skills needed to manage a small business. The host entrepreneurs have the opportunity to consider their activities under new points of view, work with foreign partners and investigate new markets. Whether you are a new entrepreneur or a seasoned professional, the program can provide a significant added value to your business. The exchange of knowledge and experience, the possibility of expanding the network of contacts at European level, building new business relationships and fostering the access to unfamiliar foreign markets, are among the multiple benefits.