With the European elections taking place this week, and the ideas of Euroscepticism looming amongst EU member countries in the polls, there exists a definite requirement in analysing the true benefits the European Union provides its citizens. Given that there a numerous advantages in being an EU citizen, this article shall specifically analyse the Erasmus+ exchange scheme the Union provides, in order to obtain a more profound understanding of the resources which are available at our disposal through being a member of this Union.

As a means of contextualising this exchange programme provided by the EU, one must answer the fundamental questions. Many people may ask: ‘What is Erasmus+?’, or, ‘What does Erasmus+ involve?’ Originally it started as the Erasmus programme in 1987, giving University students the opportunity of completing a study exchange in neighbouring EU member countries, as well as being given the financial support to live in these countries. Erasmus functions as an acronym for ´European Region Action Scheme for the Mobility of University Students. This was later adapted into the Erasmus+ scheme in 2014, which provides additional exchange opportunities abroad in respect to internships, volunteering, sports events, teaching, networking, vocation training, adult learning etc. With these additional facilities, the European Parliament has come to an agreement on expanding the Erasmus+ in upcoming years to further the opportunities which are available to EU citizens.

Now focusing on the benefits an individual receives from partaking in the Erasmus+ exchange programme. In regards to its social aspects, it is almost inevitable that you shall obtain lifelong friendships from this experience. Being on an exchange programme unlocks various social societies you can take part in. One of the main groups: Erasmus Student Network (ESN), where you have the chance of going to social events and travelling around some of Europe´s most popular touristic destinations with friends from all over the world. From personal experience I was able to make friends from Italy, Mexico, Spain, France, the USA, as well as various others. Also, from being in these exchange societies, it facilitated meeting people who share similar interests to you, and who are interested in learning about other cultures and ways of life. These social experiences are what galvanise your understanding of how small the world truly is, and with the growing accessibility of social media and online communication platforms, your friends from your exchange are never too far away.

 

In respect to its connection to employability, an Erasmus exchange can harnesses your transferable skills, which in turn will enhance your CV, enabling yourself to become a standout candidate for potential employers. For instance, the transferable skills which can be obtained from your exchange experience include, adaptability from being in a new environment which you are not necessarily accustomed to, communication through partaking in social and group activities, and problem solving and decision making where your native language may not be spoken whilst handling everyday activities such as shopping. In other words, from an individual being able to thoroughly comprehend their capabilities after completing an exchange opportunity, they will be better prepared for being in a working environment.

To sum, being a member of the European Union is a membership which should be celebrated, where its citizens have a lot to take pride in, especially due to the resources which are made available to them, i.e., the Erasmus+ exchange scheme. In addition, with the European Parliament, European Council, as well as its various other sectors of the EU being active in improving the opportunities made through Erasmus+, voters should uptake a role in protecting these schemes for all generations.

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VJ Correia

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