The European Commission proves an abundance of opportunities for young people to travel and volunteer abroad, the Erasmus+ Projects. The opportunities range from two-week youth exchanges, training courses and long-term volunteering projects through EVS (European Voluntary Service).
All of these Erasmus + projects are funded by the EU. They provide a way for European youth to learn about other cultures, meet people and volunteer. But also, debate and find solutions for societal issues. Here are some of the main reasons for you to join one of these projects too:
1. It’s affordable
Since the Erasmus + projects are funded by the European Commission, then your room and board are fully paid for. In many cases, you will also get your travel expenses (flight tickets, train tickets etc) reimbursed up to a certain amount. The coordinators of the projects and training courses usually allow you to arrive up to two days earlier and to leave up to two days later. This allows you to visit surrounding areas as well. This makes it an extremely affordable way to travel.
2. You get to travel off the beaten path
Not only is this an affordable way to travel, it is also so much more than just being a tourist. Many of the projects take place in small villages and towns, thus allowing you to explore places that you might otherwise never set foot to.
You will also have the chance to really meet and mingle with the locals, through the local team participating in the project and through the residents of the village/town. Many of the Erasmus + projects also have a component where you help out the town in some way. If you’re doing EVS then you’ll be extremely involved with the locals.
3. You can meet people from all over Europe
Undoubtedly, one of the best reasons to participate in a youth exchange, training course or EVS is to meet like-minded people from all over Europe. Youth exchanges and training courses usually consist of 15-35 people from 5-20 different countries.
EVS projects typically have about 2-10 people. You’ll be living together with these people for two weeks or more, so becoming friends is almost inevitable. After the project, you’ll definitely find that you’ll have friends all across Europe.
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4. You get to explore relevant topics
Each Erasmus + project or training course has a set topic, usually about relevant issues in Europe today. Migration, human rights, discrimination, xenophobia. Some training courses also focus on self-development, improving leadership skills or entrepreneurship. In a training course, the topic is particularly important, since you will work on it every day for 8-10 hours. Youth exchanges allow much more free time and they organise more touristic activities.
Nevertheless, you will still work around your topic for a couple of hours per day. This means to it’s super important to pick a project where you’re passionate about the topic.
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5. You get to learn about different cultures
All of the Erasmus + projects are also cultural exchanges at heart. Typically during a youth exchange or training course, there’ll be one night that is reserved for all of the teams to present their country through teaching some traditional songs, phrases in their native language and preparing traditional food and drinks. It’s a great way to find out more about other cultures and to share your own.
So, are you convinced already? The next step is to find your home country’s participating organisations and your national agency. They will provide you with more information on which Erasmus + projects are currently available for you to apply to. You can also check the database of all available projects on SALTO-YOUTH.
And remember, if you are planning to do Erasmus and you need a room to rent, Uniplaces is the right place for you.
Alice is a student of Political Science and International Relations, an avid news reader and a brand ambassador for Uniplaces in Porto. She has lived in the USA, Estonia, UK and currently resides in Portugal. Besides being a student and an ambassador for Uniplaces, she’s also an ambassador for SPEAK, a social enterprise aiming to connect migrants and locals. In her free time she loves to travel, watch movies, meet new people and play music.