The original idea of creating Erasmus+ exchange was to promote peace among countries of Europe, fight rasicm, nationalism and promote multiculturalism. But in the present time of the pandemic when countries are closing their borders and applying lockdown, we are facing growing nationalism. There is a presence of fear among people, fear from foreigners. That also means that mobility is in danger. A lot of student are afraid to go abroad in this time or they just dont see the point since lectures are online and social activities are reduced, which can lead to feeling on loneliness in a foreign country.
But still there is a lot of benefits from doing exchange during pandemic, also lets not forget to mention that the budget and grants of EU remained the same and they are still encouraging young people to go abroad by making adoptations such as making a new online edition of LA (Learning Agreement) and by promoting digital exchanges and Internships.
European Commission is also investing €200 million to enhance digital resources and promote creativity.
The extra €200 million to be invested in digital and creativity programmes is not new money. Every year, some Erasmus+ projects do not use their entire budget. This year, these funds were pulled together from national and central agencies for the COVID-19 response.
“Building digital education and skills is the right direction, not only because of COVID-19 but also because we are moving into a new digital era,” said Giannidis (member of EU commission). However, online learning should complement rather than replace traditional, face-to-face teaching.
In the case You have been nominated for Student exchange and You have been informed that the lectures will be online, You have three options to choose:
Option 1 is to participate in classes remotely from their home country ; in this case there is no mobility grant for virtual exchanges taken from home.
Option 2 is to participate in classes remotely while living in the host country/city ; students will be eligible for the Erasmus mobility grant, as normal (see https://www.ul.ie/international/erasmus-mobility-grant)
Option 3 is to cancel the exchange entirely ; if the semester abroad is a compulsory part of your degree programme, you will be required to apply to the Student Status Committee (SSC@ul.ie) for the Alternative to Erasmus. if the semester abroad is not compulsory, please inform the Erasmus office of your decision (email@example.com)
In the case You choose option 2, to go on exchange while having online courses, You can still have an unique and special experience, here are some benefits of doing exchange during pandemic:
- Very obvious, You will get a grant to go live in some country by Your choice
- You will experience proper culture, considering that in this time there is not a lot of foreigners and tourists, you will have a chance to see real local life and experience autentic culture
- There will be no crowds
- You can focus more on Your studies or writting your thesis while being financially supported at the same time
- You can meet a lot of locals and practice and learn new language by interacting with them
- You will get out of Your comfort zone and face new challenges, which will help you find Your inner strenght
- Every experience is a good experience
Pandemic should not be the reason to prevent or sabbotage your plans, especially because there are still a lot of oportunities and support from EU. Life is still happening, just in some different form, and You should go live it.