Into the future of exchange programmes
Wiktoria Walkowiak, City, University of London
Though pursuing studies in the UK for aspiring Polish students as for EU nationals may now be challenged due to financial restrictions, there is still hope, still a chance to grasp the real experience of studying abroad. The Polish and UK Erasmus Student Network is working exceptionally hard and will continue working towards supporting you to an open door of success, growth and lifelong experiences treasured forever.
What is the Erasmus+ Programme?
Pursuing higher education somewhere other than your initial home is a dream treasured by many individuals. This dream is often lost and left unaccomplished by the great obstacle known as ‘money.’ The need of money when travelling abroad comes to us as our first discouraging thought. So, incentives play significant importance in supporting and providing equal opportunity, encouraging souls to make the first step. The Erasmus+ Programme strives to give students the possibility of studying or completing an internship (for at least 2 months and 12 months per cycle of studies) abroad. Erasmus can become an alternative to still experience studies in the UK, regarding changes formed by the government on financial eligibility and support.
Aspiring to study at UK’s most prestigious universities
‘Fasten your seat belt and be ready to fly with the new EU programme Erasmus+.’ Although negotiations surrounding Brexit and the impact it will have on the Erasmus programme are continuous and still uncertain, the UK will participate until an overall outcome is presented by both parties. If you are aspiring to enrich your studies, Erasmus+ is here to support your mobility, encourage you to change your life and live the adventures you once thought were un accomplishable.
The world is rapidly changing, substantial changes in the social and economical structures are beginning to occur, some which we find hard to comprehend – not to mention the global pandemic. And so, we need to become more open-minded as individuals to further conquer the world with success, knowledge and intelligence, enriching tolerance and acceptance. Erasmus Programmes give you outstanding outcomes, concentrating on expanding inner and outer personal abilities, giving you a more successful glimpse into the future, which for now seems rather uncertain. And, guides me to an often-raised question, how will Erasmus function during a global pandemic and will it be entirely beneficial?
How ESN Poland is
tackling current challenges
There is no doubt that the whole world was, and still is, affected by the pandemic. The unexpected situation has had and will continue to have a significant impact on the education system and all students, both domestic and international. At the moment of the global COVID-19 outbreak, a lot of young people who were studying abroad were faced with many challenges. For some of them, the hardest thing was to decide whether to stay in a foreign country or come back home. After the lockdown ended, some people who chose to stay abroad were still able to enjoy their free time there. However, the experience was already very different from the one student’s had before COVID-19. It refers to all mobility programs, including Erasmus+.
At this moment, the decision about accepting international students is made by every university separately. Some institutions have already suspended exchange programs for the upcoming semester, both for incoming and outgoing students. As of yet, there are no specific guidelines from the Polish government on how universities should operate during the next academic year. Even so, some universities right now are opting to conduct classes in a mix: some online and some offline.
Volunteers of ESN Poland (Erasmus Student Network) will do as much as they can to ensure the best possible experience for people who come for Erasmus+ exchange in the next semesters. Erasmus students may be expecting more online events, which were already happening last semester. All activities will be organised for a smaller number of participants and will follow all rules and regulations prevailing at that time. Moreover, as long as travelling is allowed, the time spent in the country will still be an amazing opportunity to discover culture, history and many wonderful places all around Poland.
However, everything will depend on regulations given by local authorities and the government. Nevertheless, both receiving universities and ESN volunteers are going to help in all challenges that international students may be facing while coming to Poland in the next few months.
The is something about Erasmus
Jacob Duane, ESN UK President
Far from the bustling central tourist hubs, there is the local life. Where the first thing you hear upon entering a shop is not a ‘Hi, how are you?’, but a ‘Ciao, come va?’. Where a city perhaps heard of once or twice previously becomes your new home, when you immerse yourself in a new language when you learn about what is different, and what is the same between your host and home countries it really does create that lifelong experience often seen on Instagram stories. It’s cliched but no less true.
It has been almost three years since I jetted off for my Erasmus exchange and time certainly flies. Returning to Scotland, a combination of the so-called ‘post-Erasmus depression’ and a desire to give back led me to join the Erasmus Student Network (ESN). Upon joining ESN UK, I set out to revive our national trips. It is no secret that going abroad makes students more flexible to change. This was evident from our volunteers’ ability to reinvigorate the national event, seeing hundreds of students from all corners of the world congress in Scotland’s capital, ceilidh dancing, exploring the wonders of Edinburgh castle, and learning why no student at the University of Edinburgh dares enter its gates before graduation.
To say that exchange was different this year would be an understatement. However, we quickly saw the strength of international and exchange students as over 20 000 students took part in ESN’s survey on how they had been affected by the pandemic, which provided a reference for universities and policymakers across the world. Almost immediately we saw hundreds of national and international events created by students from the 42 countries of the Erasmus Student Network. ESN UK was no different, hosting an online fitness session and asking our friends from ESN Germany to provide language lessons. With online events just a click away, we have seen the ability of students to undertake hourly mobilities in countries outside their home and host universities.
It is unclear how the future of exchange will look, but ESN UK will continue to advocate for mobility and support international and exchange students for years to come. We have a full national level, our number of sections has risen to a record high, with both exchange societies and universities seeing the importance of a connected and international future. We realise more than ever how important it is to have a network of peers supporting exchange students. The future of exchange, although steeped with challenges, is promising.