Actually, the answers to these questions depend on whether you trust "the young ones" or you do not. Moreover, if you are willing to take some advice – trust them! I certainly do. Because the new generation is the Erasmus Generation and, as I am a part of it, I know just how much potential they have to create a better tomorrow.
But what exactly is “Erasmus Generation” you may wonder? Let me tell you!
The Erasmus Generation is a term that describes young people who participate in mobility programmes, therefore they have the opportunity to spend part of their studies abroad, do internships, or work.
Yes, but what exactly is the Erasmus programme? As I said, Erasmus is the key that opens the door to a whole new world, allowing you to travel, study, work or intern in a foreign country. The programme is funded by the European Union and gives endless opportunities to people who seek them. Eligibility varies from country to country, but the main condition is to be in higher education, studying for an official degree or diploma, and have completed your first year. But the biggest benefit from the Erasmus programme is that you don’t need to pay additional tuition fees to the university you end up attending. Not only that, but thanks to the funding by the EU, you receive a monthly scholarship to cover your needs abroad. Opportunities are endless and to make sure you are familiar with them, it is better to check the specific conditions in your country so you can apply.
Of course, it is not necessary to go on an exchange to feel the magic of Erasmus. Being part of the Erasmus Student Network is just as exciting and offers more opportunities than you can imagine. Whichever part you decide to take, and however you decide to participate in the Erasmus magic world, makes you part of the Erasmus Generation. And it is certainly a great place to be a part of.
Let's talk about history for a little bit (it is not boring, I promise!).
It all began in 1989, when the Erasmus Bureau invited 32 former Erasmus students for an evaluation meeting in Ghent, Belgium. The lack of peer-to-peer support had been a major issue. But, as it happens often in life, every bad thing leads to something good and unexpected. This situation was the driving force behind the creation of the Erasmus Student Network. ESN supports students from the Erasmus+ programme under the motto "Students helping students".
The programme is named after the Dutch philosopher, Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam. He became one of the main figures of European intellectual life during the Renaissance. ERASMUS is a backronym meaning European Community Action Scheme for the Mobility of University Students. Erasmus travelled widely across Europe, and he was a pioneer of the European Republic of Letters.
Today, students who join the Erasmus+ programme study for at least three months or do an internship for a period of at least two months to an academic year in another European country. Now, more than nine million people have participated in the Erasmus+ programme since its creation. The project that started as a dream and unclear vision, is now a reality and it serves young people all over Europe.
Everyone who joins the Erasmus+ programme by going on exchange in a foreign country, or joins ESN and helps incoming students in their home country, becomes part of this amazing world where everything is possible – the Erasmus Generation.
Erasmus Generation is not only a term that applies to certain people. It is a whole generation of young people, citizens of a whole continent, who find homes in different countries and create families with people living thousands of miles away.
Erasmus Student Network as a part of the Erasmus Generation
ESN is one of the largest European student organisation working on three levels - local, national and international. It is active within the borders defined by the Council of Europe, at least for now. ESN on the local level consists of "sections" that directly work with the international students. They organise activities like introduction programmes, get-togethers, and cultural events and represent the exchange students and their needs towards academic institutions and local authorities.
ESN provides a lot more than activities for the incoming students. Imagine going to live abroad, completely alone, you do not know the city, you don't know the culture and most importantly – you don't know a single soul there. It sounds terrifying! Well, ESN creates the comfort you need and makes you feel at home when you arrive in a foreign country. You not only get to meet people who know where you can exchange money, but you also get a family. And if that is not something worth keeping, I don’t know what is.
What is the spirit of the Erasmus Generation?
The Erasmus Generation consists of thousands of people from very different cultures, countries, religions, and beliefs, but all connected by something bigger than that. They are all a family, one you choose to be a part of, which makes it even more special. Those young people volunteer every day to make the lives of others easier and happier without expecting anything in return, but actually receiving a lot – they get to have a family member across the world who can offer them a home.
I believe in a better future because of that, because I see it with my own eyes every day. Why? Because I am a part of that generation, and I love every minute of it. I see people who work harder doing volunteer work, than others, who have a full-time jobs. I see people who try their bestest (I know it's not a real word, but believe me – in this case, it applies), to create a home for foreign students and to make them feel welcome in our country. I see it every day in my local section, I see it every day in my country and I know it will only get better. The motivation never dies when you do something with your whole heart.
They not only organise activities to entertain the exchange students, though they also do that with ease. They create long-lasting friendships and welcome more and more people in the family.
Those young people will become grown-up Europeans, with very different visions for their future, and the future of the world in general, than the ones today.
The Erasmus Generation is assumed to support European integration more actively when compared with their elder generations. We are young European citizens, who want to create a base of support for further European integration.
A study carried out by the European Commission in 2010, shows that participating in Erasmus strengthens tolerance. More than a quarter of Erasmus participants meet their life partners through the programme, and participation in Erasmus encourages mobility between European countries.
Those opportunities were not given to the generations before the Erasmus programme, which leads us to the point of how different we are being raised. In that case, the future of Europe will be different but full of like-minded people who accept their differences and beliefs. I see a very bright future brought to us by the Erasmus Generation, and I am grateful to be living in that time.
To answer the question, who is the Erasmus Generation? – It is me, you, and every young person around us. You certainly are a part of it already! Why not join the Erasmus Student Network and help us create a brighter future for our children? I promise it is worth it!