I am sure there are very few Generation Ys out there who haven’t heard about ‘Erasmus’, but for those that haven’t, Erasmus is the most successful student mobility programme in the world. More than 230,000 students last year took this fantastic opportunity to travel, experience a new culture and learn a language. Now in its 26th year, Erasmus is becoming a real institution. But is there a way of making more out of this experience than we already are? In this post I chat with Luca Lo Re and Mohamad Tarhini from work-in-progress “My Erasmus Life” who are hoping to improve the student mobility experience through their exciting new project.
Firstly tell us, what is My Erasmus Life?
My Erasmus Life is a web platform dedicated to enhancing the experience of students under mobility schemes of education, training, youth and sports across Europe. The whole project started based on the experience of the founders, Luca Lo Re and Mohamad Tarhini, who had to change four different countries, live in five different flats, get four different visa stamps and buy/sell four different bicycles during their two-year Erasmus Mundus master.
Wow, none of which are easy when you are new to a place and learning the language!
So what is the aim of the site, what do you hope to achieve through it?
My Erasmus Life aims to establish itself as the central hub for all mobility student-related activities, such as accommodation searches, a student market place and event organisation, among many others.
So what technical features and functions will be available?
The students will have the opportunity:
- to familiarise themselves with the country and the city where they are going to study before they leave: accommodation search, visa information, city information, etc.
- to sort out the common issues faced when they first arrive in the new city e.g. to buy cheap things to make their temporary flat their “temporary home”, find a new mobile carrier, open a new bank account, get new health insurance, etc;
- to get the most out of their stay: pubs, students parties, students trips, etc.
- and eventually to carefully plan their next journey before they leave again to another destination: send suitcases, find cheap travel tickets and sell what they cannot bring in the student marketplace.
It sounds really useful, but what will make the site unique from other social networking or travel sites?
Although there are several sites offering similar services, My Erasmus Life is the only all-in-one platform (centralised hub) dedicated to meet all the needs of mobility students. Moreover, My Erasmus Life will cover all the main European cities and all EU mobility programs.
What do you still need to be able to launch the website, when do you estimate it will be up and running?
We are currently at the web development stage. We are expecting to have it up and running by the start of the next academic year 2013/14. Fundraising remains a continuous activity in order to be able to provide more features and services to enhance users’ experience. For project’s updates, please regularly visit our website (currently under construction): www.myerasmuslife.eu
Personally, I think their site has great potential. Simplifying the life of Erasmus students, helping reduce some of the more stressful aspects will give them more time to enjoy their experience and make the most of their new home. Erasmus students, Harry and Emily agree.
“When I first went to France it was very daunting. France is notorious for complex paperwork and governmental processes. It would have been great to read about other people’s experiences on a site dedicated to study-abroad students because when I first arrived all the processes and terms were new and confusing. I would also have loved to know more about local clubs and evening classes so that I could meet more local people.” Emily, Grenoble
“This website would have been really helpful for me. When I arrived in Madrid I didn’t know that it is common to get a contract for a room for just one or two months. I made the mistake of thinking that getting a 10 month contract instead of 12 is great!” Harry, Madrid
After all the excitement, all the ups-and-downs, the time finally comes to pack up and head home.
So, is that it? It’s all over?
In Italy, several ex-Erasmus students think not. They believe more can be made out of the Erasmus experience and so have launched a new foundation “garagErasmus”. Their network is made up of former ‘study-abroad students’, who are now working professionals in a variety of fields.
The aim of the site is to promote creative entrepreneurship, develop opportunities, mobility and take advantage of international professional contacts. Their first database is already up and running at garagerasmus.org. In the future they hope for a TV format and are aiming to partner with a variety of private and public authorities.
It seems there will soon be a network to support students every step of the way, regardless of where they are in their Erasmus journey. So, even though some of these planned projects are not yet fully up and running there are ambitious plans for the future. As the team at garagErasmus so nicely put it …
“The Erasmus Generation has learned how to live in a land without borders. We have been educated to appreciate differences; we are thrilled by the speed of integration and the potential of a united and inclusive European society. We no longer fear we may lose our identity or national traditions; we know that our polity is strengthened because we are different from one another.”
Blogged by Charlotte Cullen, 23 year old British graduate currently living in Lyon, France.