Erasmus: How to Join an Academic Exchange Program

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On May 23, Anastasiia Mykytenko, an exchange participant in Leipzig and a volunteer for the Erasmus Student Network Kyiv — ESN Kyiv, spoke about how to join an academic exchange.

Anastasiia explained where to look for opportunities and showed how to draw up the necessary documents correctly. She also shared life-hacks on how to write a resume (CV) and a cover letter. The participants learned what they should be prepared for and what to do when the exchange is over.

Tips from Anastasiia:

  • look for academic exchanges on the websites of the International Mobility Office or the Academic Mobility Department of your university (names may vary);
  • contact the coordinator of academic mobility of your faculty, to get to know how to fill documents;
  • to write a good cover letter, carefully read the information about the university and think about why you want to study there.

And of course, do not be afraid and reach your goals. As the speaker says, Erasmus is possible, and a semester of studying in Germany, France or Spain is available for everyone! 😉

Acquaintanceship

Anastasiia Mykytenko is a philology student. She works as a copywriter at Genesis and has visited 11 countries. Anastasiia volunteers in the Erasmus Students Network (ESN) program, the main goals of which are:

  1. To help incoming Erasmus students in adaptation, to promote the project, to show the city and to encourage others to take part in it;
  2. To disseminate information on sustainability: conduct lectures, campaigns, etc.

What happens before submitting documents and how to prepare them

Recruitment and exchange take place twice a year. In the spring they submit documents for the autumn semester, and in the fall — for the spring.

Students of 2–4 courses and master’s degrees (except for students of the last semester of the final year) can go for an exchange. Age does not matter.

You can find information about an academic exchange in Academic Mobility Departament (International Office / Office of International Relationships / Cooperation). But keep in mind that you can join an exchange only in the same or similar program and only in the partner universities.

When searching for the project, put your attention on:

  • the university name;
  • if the program fits;
  • an application deadline. 
Documents needed
  1. CV in the Europass format, which you can create online for free;
  2. Motivation letter. Length is about 1 page. This is the crucial document which will define your participation.

Before writing a motivation letter, you should do a research about the university, look up the website, read about the project.

In the motivation letter, it is important to answer the question “Why do I want to go there?” “Why me and not someone else?”.

Of course, everyone wants to get to know the other countries, to try living abroad and to travel. But you should find something that will differ you among the others. The best decision is to ask your friends and family to help you out.

It is essential to tell about what you’d like to do in that country, how you can be useful, what will you give others after getting this experience.

Forget about the cliches! Motivation letter examples are useful to read but do not copy the information.

Be laconic. Do not just name your good qualities, but show them along with your experience. Empathize your strengths.

Remember, it is better to say “I have an aim” describing the way you’re reaching it instead of saying “I have a dream”.

If you are a socially active person — write about it: volunteering, programs, training, courses — but only those worth mentioning which are related to your program.

Sentences should be correct, and the presentation should be polite.

  1. Learning agreement

This document shows how proper the exchange is for you in terms of academic parameters: whether the subjects match and there are enough credits (the number of lessons you had for particular subjects), which will be recalculated at your university. The Learning agreement also shows that you will need to rewrite it later.

For information about your subjects and loans, contact the Methodists. After that, go to the university website. There submit documents, find a match in the names of specialities and the number of credits.

It is better to review the content of the courses, rather than the names.

Note. In this document fill in only the Before the mobility section and do not sign.

  1. Document on knowledge of English. Two documents can prove language skills: international certificates, such as IELTS, or those issued by your university lecturer. Others do not fit.
  2. Copy of bachelor’s degree and notes — for a master’s degree.
  3. Extract from the test. The extract should be requested from the methodologist, translated and certified by the signature of the director. This process usually takes several days.
General tips for submitting documents
  • Do everything in advance, at least a week ( when you write a motivation letter, you may want to change something, but you will not have time).
  • Ask for help. It will be worse if you send the wrong document.
  • Get acquainted with the university website to understand whether you want to go there for sure.
  • Check everything before submitting materials. At first, you may not notice any glaring mistakes. Read your document aloud.
  • Ask friends to check everything.
  • Believe that anything is possible.
Selection

You only need to send documents to the program’s e-mail. Then there is an interview. It’s like a cover letter. Only it’s already voiced in person. Therefore, it is worth adding something new that was not yet in the letter. Find out two or three specific facts about the city or university and tell them at the interview. Don’t worry: people understand that you may not know all the facts about the city you’re going to, and they’re also interested in you going on this program. At the interview may be a representative of the department, administration, student government.

Both a Ukrainian university and a partner university make the selection, but it is the Ukrainian institution that evaluates first. Faculty supervisors cannot assist during the interview.

Funding

Ukrainians receive 800–900 euros of scholarship, while Europeans have just about 400 euros. These funds will be enough for daily needs, and for insurance, dormitory, travelling in Europe.

Residence

Universities provide dormitories for international students, or you can find an apartment on your own. As soon as you know, you are in the program, start solving dorm issues right away to find appropriate housing in time.

Your buddy

You can ask for a buddy student who will introduce you to the program, help with settlement, bank account, etc. You will have to get from the airport to the city on your own, so prepare an offline map (MapsMe), the address of the hostel, all the necessary documents. You can also talk about this with the coordinator.

If you do not have enough money to pay for the hostel immediately, you can arrange to do so later. Besides, you can receive 275 euros for tickets. You should check what discounts a student ticket provides you: it can be useful on certain types of public transport.

Pros and cons of the program

Erasmus is not easy. These are a lot of documents that need to be carefully collected and modified. However, such a process brings up the organization and attentiveness, determination and awareness in matters of insurance abroad, bank accounts and so on.

Learning is not easy. For example, it was a real challenge for the participant to take the exams in German. However, if you do not understand the material, you can go to the tutors and ask for additional information. You will need to do more than your classmates, but this is professional development.

You will miss your friends and family a lot in the program, but later it becomes easier because you meet other participants of the program and make friends with them, you feel their support. And you will miss your country’s cuisine, especially favourite dishes.

It can be challenging to pass the exams simultaneously at your Ukrainian university: some tutors force you to do all the homework for the semester, but most understand.

It is an incredible development of personality: you grow up, learn to be kinder to yourself and others. It is an opportunity to get a European education. With Erasmus, you can find yourself and your professional path.


Written by Mariia Hohel

Poster design: Andrii Gladkyi