Erasmus - No Need for Translation Natasha Papathanasiou

Erasmus started off as a sub-program of the Lifelong Learning Program (LLP), an EU program designed to enable people, at any stage of their life, to take part in stimulating learning experiences, as well as developing education and training across Europe. Erasmus, as a student exchange program, provided opportunities for close to 3 million students between 1987-2013. In addition to the 230,000 students who benefited on an annual basis, Erasmus also provided opportunities for over 300,000 teachers and staff in higher education, with 4,000 institutions and 33 countries participating. The activities of LLP continue under the new Erasmus+ program from 2014-2020.

Erasmus+ is the EU Program in the fields of education, training, youth and sport for the period 2014-2020. As the official guide underlines “Education, training, youth and sport can make a major contribution to help tackle socio-economic changes, the key challenges that Europe will be facing until the end of the decade. It will support the implementation of the Europe 2020 strategy for growth, jobs, social equity and inclusion.” Many people think that Erasmus+, as a mobility program, refers only to members of the EU. Fortunately, it includes a far wider range of participating countries from all over the world, for example from Kenya to Vietnam and from Canada to Australia. Furthermore, Erasmus+ does not only aim to mobility of students, it is actually the Programs brand name, under which all its actions are functioning.

The fun part. 

I am participating in “Erasmus+, which is  in relation to the activities of the Program exclusively related to the field of higher education and targeting Program Countries. As an undergraduate student I decided to attend this year’s spring semester at Université de Liège . Liege is the major city of the francophone region of Wallonie, in the southern part of Belgium. Being almost in the heart of Europe makes the whole experience more and more satisfying. Reaching to my final month of stay, I can tell for sure that my experience  so far is worth each and every second of it. 

First of all, I have the opportunity to participate in lectures conducted in a different language than of my native one. The French language is all about practice, I am improving my ability not only to communicate thoroughly in French, but also to work in an academical level. Secondly, the effective cooperation with students from all over the world has fulfilled with my participation in the program. Through this, I can actually prove that language and culture does not necessarily have to be a barrier when you are willing to know the other, communicate with him, work together and –why not- built a friendship that can last through time. 

For accommodation, I have chosen the residence faculty of the university. That is because I believe that the aims of the Erasmus+ program are only being 100% achieved this way. I have the chance to stay and interact 24/7 with people from all over the world and from various grades of education and employment: master students, interns and undergraduates. 

I can genuinely claim that I am starting to obtain the “international citizenship”. A citizenship that it is hard to get, since it requires eligibility, an open mind, socialising and understanding. By understanding, I mean the differences and the similarities between yourself and the person in front of you, who comes from a distant corner of the planet. In the end, all that matters is to tear down those walls that separate us and build bridges that connect us.