Do you know the Erasmus+ program for European mobility? It is an incredible opportunity for any student enrolled at a higher education institution in Europe, regardless of nationality.
As a Brazilian student in Portugal, as soon as I arrived I had this question in mind: could I participate in the program? The exchange possibility interested me from the beginning, even more so if we take into account that it offers a financial aid which makes all the difference.
And the answer is yes! It is possible to participate in Erasmus simply by being enrolled in a European higher education institution. Whether you are Brazilian or of any other non-European nationality, being enrolled in a European university is all you need to be eligible for this opportunity!
I had the amazing experience of going in an Erasmus exchange in 2018/2019, when I studied at Universidad Complutense de Madrid for one semester. I will tell you a bit more about my personal experience in another post. For now, I’ll focus on the more general information that may interest you. Let’s find out a little more!
The Erasmus+ program is a mobility program funded by the European Union, established in 1987 and offering the opportunity for academic and internship exchanges. In all, it is possible to have 12 months of mobility for each cycle of studies. That is, in your bachelor’s degree, you can carry out 12 months of exchange, which can be only academic, only for an internship or a mix of both.
Keep in mind that there is also a minimum period for academic mobility: 3 months, or 1 academic term.
After completing your first year of study, you can apply for the Erasmus + programs, without limitation of nationality or age.
Where can I go to?
There are 33 countries participating in the program: the United Kingdom (for now), 27 countries in the European Union and 5 European countries outside the European Union. In addition to these, there are “partner countries” all over the world, depending on your area of study.
Attention: In this post, I will only talk about mobility for studies. The rules for the other possibilities of exchange are different, and in the future I will talk about these other options.
In any case, it is necessary to check with your educational institution which are their partner countries and universities. My university has an agreement with many countries, but for my particular course, the options were more limited. I was able to choose universities in five different countries.
In addition to that, it is important to check what are the requirements of each university, especially with regards to language. For me, for example, there was the possibility of going to Germany or Italy, but in both cases, I needed a minimum level of B1 in their respective languages. It complicated everything because I did not have time to learn a language from scratch. If you know that you are interested in going to a specific country, my suggestion is that you already enroll in a course or use Duolingo daily. Just by not having to start from scratch, you’re in a better position!
There is the possibility of receiving financial aid for your Erasmus+ mobility. Interesting, right? The amount depends on the difference between the cost of living in the country where you study and the country you are going to.
In my course, all the students who applied for a semester of mobility received a scholarship. But beware: this scholarship is a cost aid, and does not cover, by any means, all expenses. From my experience, it was even slightly below the difference in living costs, but that depends a lot on the city where you are going – not just the country.
The scholarship was deposited in my account once all the documents had been signed, around two weeks after I arrived in Madrid.
There are several conditions that must be fulfilled for the scholarship to be deposited, and there are also conditions specific to each university. It is important to check this with your university’s mobility office.
The amount is deposited all at once, so it is up to the student to control their finances. One of the most effective ways to do this is to use an application to track your spending – and thus create a budget and know when to save. Now I use Bluecoins, an app free for Android (I’m not sponsored, unfortunately).
To be accepted into the program, you must define a study plan that can be validated with your current university. This is great, because it means you are not losing any graduation time when doing your exchange! That is, the semester (or two semesters) spent abroad count towards the conclusion of your course.
This process of creating a study plan and adjusting it is a bit troublesome. I was lucky because other people on my course had already done the mobility exchange in the same university, in the same academic term. So basically I copied their study plan, and it was quickly accepted by my university.
If you’re not so lucky, it’s a matter of talking back and forth to your mobility coordinator. Basically, it will be necessary to analyze the disciplines that you have to study at your home university and then finding similar the courses at your destination university, with similar content and number of credits.
The process does not end there. Most of the time, adjustments will have to be made once classes begin. Some professors do not accept mobility students, or sometimes two courses you want to attend take place at the same time. But with patience, everything will be just fine!
Is it necessary to request another visa?
Depending on the country you are going to, you may need to request a study visa. In my case, the information provided on the website of the Spanish Consulate in Brazil is that it is not necessary to apply for a visa in case of academic mobility. Still, it is necessary to undergo a small bureaucratic process. I will not detail this information here because it is very specific to Spain, but do not hesitate to reach out to me if you have any questions.
Therefore, in my case, Spain did not require a visa to do the mobility, and my university of destination did not ask for any documents proving my legal status in the country. However, each country and each university have different procedures! I met a Brazilian student who did Erasmus in The Netherlands, and the university itself demanded and helped her to apply for the visa.
It is essential to get information both in your mobility office and with the University of destination, in addition to contacting the consulate of the destination country.
Neither the Erasmus+ program nor the universities provided me with accommodation. I do not know if this is the case for everyone who does the mobility, but I guess so. So I will share some ways you can find accommodation.
My destination university provided some links to accommodation services I could use. Some of them even offered discounts for Erasmus students. Some of these services are Spotahome and Uniplaces. I chose to rent a room with Uniplaces, because it made me feel safer. Since I reserved a place before arriving in the country, I felt it was the best way to do it. However, the rooms advertised in these places are, in general, more expensive. To top it off, these services still charge fees.
Another option would be to look for rooms on classified ads sites. You can find amazing accommodations like this! The only caveat is that it is important to visit the locations before making any payments, to make sure you will not fall victim to a fraud. Sometimes it’s worth it staying in a hostel for a few days and personally visiting the advertised rooms.
You can also opt for student housing. Usually, these places receive a large number of students per semester, have a website you can look for and have already been established for years. Again, it is important to visit, but it is a good option for those who like to live with several other students!
Is it worth it doing an Erasmus+ exchange?
Many Brazilians I met at the University of Porto told me they were not going to apply for the program. They saw the experience in Portugal as a kind of exchange in and of itself and saw no need for another change or mobility.
But, let me tell you … The experience of studying abroad and doing an exchange (in this case, Erasmus+) are COMPLETELY different!
I plan to do a post detailing this experience, from my arrival in Madrid to my classes and everything else. For now, it suffices to say that the intensity, the pace and the experiences one goes through when doing an exchange program is on a whole other level. We meet so many other people going through the same experience and the bonds are made in the blink of an eye. We experience the city more intensely. We travel more. So if anyone asks me, “is it worth it”? The answer is a thousand times yes!
Do you have a question about the Erasmus+ program for academic mobility? Leave it down in the comments or contact me through Instagram!