What do the following have in common?
- A 10th birthday
- One of the most beautiful cities in Poland
- A unicorn
If you’re still unsure, let us help you with this. It’s time to give a round of applause to this month’s fabulous Section in the Spotlight, Kraków’s very own ESN AGH!
With humble beginnings raging back to the ancient smartphone-free times of 2007, ESN Akademia Górniczo-Hutnicza (if you’re not Polish, don’t even try to pronounce this) started off as part of the University Student Council, but as the number of incoming Erasmus students grew, something had to be done. Dramatic changes came in 2010, when the HR coordinator organised an enormous recruitment, increasing the number of members threefold, at the same time creating the basis of what would eventually become one of the most well-known ESN sections on the international level.
ESN AGH’s board is run by 3 people, who oversee and lead the work of coordinators and 6 different committees to create the perfect experience for incoming exchange students. Did you know that ESN AGH has an active member from Spain? Talking about a proper international environment! After new members are chosen, they all participate in a special integration camp, where proper knowledge transfer and training sessions take place. Did we mention that it’s also a great place to make fantastic friends?
ESN AGH makes sure to keep older members busy and motivated too. Apart from organising a series of meetings – called “Saturday with ESN” – with the help of other sections in Kraków, the section also organises several barbeques throughout the year to get the positive vibes going, and plans to organise a Sailing Trip for ESNers after a long year of hard work. Nice job, ESN AGH!
When it comes to keeping Erasmus students entertained, these guys really do not mess around! From museum trips and international sporting events to cooking workshops, ESN AGH has something to suit everyone’s taste. In true ESN spirit, they often involve local communities in their activities too. The most popular are “Mobility Day”, an infomarket designed to promote mobility projects and the Erasmus+ programme, and the Mentor Programme, which last semester attracted over 300 mentors from all the different faculties in the university!
ESN AGH is proud to have two flagship projects, directed at the local student body and foreign students respectively. The first project is called HRproject, composed of a series of workshops organised by representatives of big local companies.
“The representatives lead trainings to show us how easily we can get a job and achieve a success during an interview.”
The second flagship project is an ideal combination of Mov'in Europe and ExchangeAbility, a project aptly called “ABLE TO MOVie”.
“It is about creating a series of movies showing the lives of students with disabilities at our university. We want to show them the facilities and encourage them to come here.”
So we’ve pretty much covered two of the three main features that make ESN AGH what it is today… but what about that mystical unicorn? Apart from being the national animal of Scotland (not kidding!), it has been the famous mascot of ESN AGH since 2011.
So there we go! Unicorns, a fantastic atmosphere among members and Erasmus students alike, and over 10 years of improving, learning, and having some good old fun along the way. Let’s raise our glasses to another 10, or even longer!
Written by Cris Ptasiński
Please give a warm welcome to one of the newer sections in our network and our Section in the Spotlight for April: ESN Nicosia!
ESN Nicosia is the only section in the country, which means that the Local Board acts as the National Board of ESN Cyprus as well. The Local Board was first established in March 2015 and consists of the following positions: President, Vice-President, Treasurer, PR, Vice PR and Education Officer.
At the moment, the section has 30 active members who support the work of all Board members as well as the work of coordinators of ESN’s international projects. Whenever they organise an event, no matter the scope, members form an Organising Committee (OC) and divide the tasks among themselves.
Actually, there are two requirements for new members to pass the transition period: attend at least two regular meetings, and become an OC member once. Additionally, they organise some amazing teambuilding activities, formal and informal ones - they do karaoke, further explore the island, they cook and study together, and during Christmas time they arrange the famous Secret Santa game!
“When we decided to join the ESN Nicosia family after our Erasmus experience, we didn't know each other, but now we have a great bond from the teambuilding activities we've been through.”
Older members are always welcome in the section since they make sure that the knowledge transfer process is done correctly and efficiently. In the beginning of each academic year they organise a training for new members with local and international ESN trainers where every new member gets an older member as a buddy.
ESN Nicosia plays a big role in the life of Erasmus students in Cyprus. Erasmus and other international students often express the wish to join the section, so the local members try to involve them the best way they can, usually by inquiring about their needs and ideas for events and activities. They organise a wide variety of events, both weekly and one-time events. Their Welcome Weeks usually consist of movie screenings, karaoke evenings, parties, tour to the old city of Nicosia, among others.
As a fairly new section, they have more than enough room for exploring new events such as visit to the paintball park, and a workshop on how to make and taste souvlaki. Every Monday they organise movie screenings, where students get to vote on which movie they want to watch, while Wednesdays are reserved for theme parties, and Thursdays for Tandem Language Exchange meetings with various games. They are very much aware of the beauty of their island and they are using it to its maximum by organising various trips, beach parties, exploring various villages and monuments, hiking at the mountains and parks, and similar.
They are especially proud of their flagship project which consists of their participation at the largest carnival parade in Cyprus, which is also a part of their tradition. The parade usually entails around thousands of participants and hundreds of groups, and they contribute with a group of approximately 200 international and local students. They opt for themes that promote the Erasmus spirit, like “Destination Erasmus”, ''Make Erasmus not War'', ''Erasmus Gypsies'', etc. This year they will be organising it with the Foundation for the Management of European Lifelong Learning Programmes, since it will be dedicated to the 30th Anniversary of Erasmus Programme, and this year’s theme will be ''Passports and Tickets''.
“This way, we manage to bring local and international students together, showing that cultural differences are not an obstacle for having a great time.”
They are very active when it comes to the implementation of ESN’s international projects. Under SocialErasmus they have organised a series of events under the common name “Random acts of kindness” which consisted of free hugs, candle making for children in need, blood donations, clothes donations to the Red Cross, and similar. Under the ExchangeAbility and MappED! projects, they have managed to map four big Universities and make their common activities accessible for students with disabilities. When it comes to Mov'in Europe, they organise mobility days, radio shows, and Tandem meetings under the slogan "to have a second language is to possess a second soul".
They have a good cooperation with their University, International Relations Office, National Agency and other NGO’s in the area. In October 2016 they became a Connected Member at Cyprus Youth Council. In collaboration with the University of Cyprus' radio show, "Erasmus on Air", they host current Erasmus students in Nicosia and locals who are willing to share their experience and the benefits of studying abroad. With only one section they have managed to cover all Universities in Cyprus, which is an amazing success!
ESN Nicosia has managed to achieve big things in such a little amount of time, and we wish them the best of luck in their further growth and development - you made us proud!
Written by Tajana Mohnacki
ESN is delighted to host the Spring 2017 edition of SocialErasmus Week during the 30th anniversary of the Erasmus programme, to show students and young people alike how student mobility is enriched by volunteering.
SocialErasmus Week is organised twice a year by the coordinators of the SocialErasmus project, to unite both international and local students across Europe in activities and events that will make a positive change in their local community.
From 3rd to 9th April 2017, project coordinators of 40 countries will host events to raise awareness and take action under the 8 causes of SocialErasmus: animals, disasters, discrimination, education, environment, health, poverty, and violence.
While celebrating and enjoying their Erasmus experience, students and young people will have the chance to take part in activities such as food drives and donations, fundraisers, clothes donations, animal shelter visits, educational workshops, and many more.
Some of the highlights from the past editions of SocialErasmus Week were activities such as the Nenäpäivä Charity Bake Sale by ESN Jyväskylä (Finland), Unite Against Racism by ESN Bilbao (Spain), Playdate by ESN Tartu (Estonia), Cycling Without Borders by ESN Odense (Denmark), Eko Kosice by ESN Kosice (Slovakia), and Dash The Trash! by ESN Eger (Hungary).
The SocialErasmus project combines Erasmus exchange and youth volunteering with the slogan ‘Leave Your Mark’, inspiring local and Erasmus students to enrich society by taking part in the activities.
‘Thanks to the Erasmus programme, we have such amazing opportunities to help students make the most of their mobility, and to make society better for everyone. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Erasmus than by showing how it benefits both the students and the local society as well.’
- Gizem Pelin Altun, Project Coordinator
To follow the project and activities of SocialErasmus Week in your country or city, search social media for the hashtags #SocialErasmusWeek, #LeaveYourMark and #SocialErasmus.
From 20th to 24th April 2017, Berlin will be host to ESN's Annual General Meeting, the largest and most important annual meeting of the network.
The event is organised every year by the Erasmus Student Network. As a de-facto representation of the Erasmus generation, the AGM is the largest European student conference focusing on the theme of mobility, with over 700 student volunteers present. Organised by local member associations from Germany and France, the prestigious event will be held in Berlin this year, turning the city into the ‘Capital of Erasmus’ for four days.
AGM Germany 2017 carries special significance, as we celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Erasmus programme. As an acknowledgement of this momentous occasion, a panel discussion will be organised under the theme Strangers to Friends: Three Decades of Erasmus Mobility. The panel will be open to the public and tackle topics such as the reasons for the success of Erasmus and the expectations of students regarding its future.
AGM Warsaw 2016
Another central feature of the AGM will be the Mobility Fair, where student representatives from hundreds of European universities, along with companies like the Deutsche Börse Group, will be present to showcase job, internship and study opportunities abroad. The fair takes place from 11:00 to 17:00 on Friday 21st in the Henry Ford Building of the Freie Universität Berlin. All local and international students and pupils are invited.
The Secretary of State for Science and Research in Berlin and patron of AGM Germany, Steffen Krach, says of the AGM:‘The idea of a joint Europe must always be an idea of its people and must bring them closer together. And this is exactly what Erasmus does, in an ideal way.’
The press release for AGM Germany 2017 can be downloaded in various languages below:Attachment Files: AGM Germany 2017 Press Release (EN).pdf AGM Germany 2017 Press Release (BG).pdf AGM Germany 2017 Press Release (CZ).pdf AGM Germany 2017 Press Release (DE).pdf AGM Germany 2017 Press Release (DK).pdf AGM Germany 2017 Press Release (EE).pdf AGM Germany 2017 Press Release (FIN).pdf AGM Germany 2017 Press Release (FR).pdf AGM Germany 2017 Press Release (GE).pdf AGM Germany 2017 Press Release (GR).pdf AGM Germany 2017 Press Release (HR).pdf AGM Germany 2017 Press Release (HU).pdf AGM Germany 2017 Press Release (IT).pdf AGM Germany 2017 Press Release (LV).pdf AGM Germany 2017 Press Release (NL).pdf AGM Germany 2017 Press Release (NO).pdf AGM Germany 2017 Press Release (PL).pdf AGM Germany 2017 Press Release (PT).pdf AGM Germany 2017 Press Release (RO).pdf AGM Germany 2017 Press Release (RS).pdf AGM Germany 2017 Press Release (SE).pdf AGM Germany 2017 Press Release (SI).pdf AGM Germany 2017 Press Release (SK).pdf AGM Germany 2017 Press Release (TR).pdf
The MappED! project, part of the ExchangeAbility and MapAbility projects established by the Erasmus Student Network, will host a press conference on the occasion of the launch of the tool and accompanying app.
Funded by the Erasmus+ programme of the European Commission, MappED! aims to create a unique online platform for students with disabilities, to help with finding information regarding mobility. The platform will provide information about existing opportunities such as additional grant requests, as well as learn about the accessibility of HEIs in Europe and their surrounding areas.
During the launch, the website and the accompanying mobile app be presented, along with a demonstration of the tool. The conference will be attended by national project coordinators, students involved in the project, partners of the project as well as important stakeholders in the area of inclusion of students with disabilities.
The agenda is as follows:
- Welcome and official opening of the conference
- Case Study presentations from stakeholders and key Institutions and Organisations in the field of mobility of youth and students with special needs
- Live demo of the new website and mobile application
- Conclusion of the conference
Please register to guarantee yourself a seat at this event!
More information about the project can be found at mapped.eu.
With the cold, desolate winter feeling slowly being replaced with rays of sunshine, one cannot help but feel more optimistic about the grand scheme of things. To evoke even more good vibes, allow us to introduce you to this month’s Section in The Spotlight: ESN URJC!
(Don’t worry, unlike at the Oscars Ceremony, we’re 100% sure it’s not La La Land.)
ESN Universidad Rey Juan Carlos (or more conveniently known as ESN URJC) is a Madrid-based ESN section which has been in operation since 2004. Considering the fact that their university receives around 800 international annually, it is a feat of gargantuan proportions that they manage to keep everyone satisfied and up to speed with only 30 active members (did I mention that they only had 10 members just 2 years ago?), as that roughly gives us a ratio of one ESN member for every 26.7 incoming exchange students. Impressive.
The structure of the section puts into practice both trusted and innovative methods of organisation, ranging from efficient and sturdy work groups which deal with the vast majority of ESN matters, a local Board of Directors and their own Communication Committee (more on this later!)
In terms of actually taking care of international students, members of ESN URJC have created a truly rich plethora of different events ranging from the tested and trusted Orientation Days, Tandem meetings and parties with other sections from Madrid to more unconventional events such as the “Integration Weekend”: an action packed event with a complete ban on using social media and mobile phones!
“It’s an unusual three-day trip which aims to get involved the international students in the Spanish culture through non-stop activities and it’s the perfect occasion for making the first friendships abroad”
Without a doubt, members of ESN URJC are most proud of their very own Communication Committee which has been responsible for all the great content the section has been providing. Ranging from aftermovies of parties, thematic Christmas videos and wonderful content on their other social media channels (make sure to follow them!), their positive content is bound to make anyone happy, even if the weather outside is more reminiscent of Siberia than Europe. ESN URJC believes that through the power of communication special bonds can be formed between incoming exchange students and ESNers. All this effort and commitment sure does pay off after seeing the satisfied faces of students from all around the world.
“Our goal is that the exchange students consider us not just coordinators but their friends, and they can count on us in any moment”
In just two years, ESN URJC has tripled in size, it has revamped its structure to be more efficient and its members are full of energy and optimism. They’re a perfect example of a section that has found new motivation to fulfil the core missions of ESN despite the long years of functioning behind it. We salute you!
By Chris Ptasinski
Witten by Ana-Marija Ramić - the winner of "Mobility is My Lifestyle" contest, organised by Mov'in Europe.
On 15th January 2017, I started a great adventure. By winning the “Mobility is My Lifestyle” competition organised by Mov'in Europe, StudentUniverse, Hostelling International and Thalys, I got the chance to travel and explore some of Europe's most famous cities: Brussels – the capital of Europe, Paris – the city of light and love, Frankfurt - the major financial centre of the European continent, the Golden City of Prague and last but not least, Budapest – the Pearl of the Danube.
The 2-week journey was a huge challenge. Not only for me, but for my family too! This was the first time I was actually travelling alone and the excitement was overwhelming. I found out about the winning the trip on Christmas Eve, and it turned out to be the best present ever.
In each country I was welcomed by amazing people from the Erasmus Student Network who took me on city tours and introduced me to more amazing people and their lives as a part of the Erasmus community. And this is my journey.
Due to bad weather, my first flight was late so I didn't catch the second plane on time. And I must admit, at first that seemed horrible, but then I got coupons for free food and my second airline gave me more free food; suddenly tragedy seemed like a blessing.
Arriving to Brussels a bit later than expected (but with a full stomach!), I was warmly welcomed by Audrė, the Communication Officer of Mov'in Europe, who then took me to check in my hostel - Jacques Brel Youth Hostel. At first sight, I loved it! It was located in the heart of the city with lovely staff, a cool bar and other spots to hang out! After a quick look around, Audrė showed me the city.
We visited many attractions, such as the Grand Place, Manneken and Jeanneke Pis, Royal Palace with Parc de Bruxelles, Fritland (best place for Belgian fries) and of course the Atomium. Needless to say, I slept like a baby after such a long and exciting day.
During my stay in Brussels, I also had the chance to meet the fabulous crew of the Erasmus Student Network at their office, where we had breakfast (thank you Gaffar). I was shown around the office and given loads of ESN merchandise. The atmosphere was really family-like and it was so amazing to meet people who are behind this project. I felt like I was really close to tearing up from happiness!
After 3 days in Brussels with Audrė, it was time to move on. Paris was the next stop, and this time I didn't fly – I was offered a train from Brussels to Paris. Wonderful, right? Thalys (a high-speed train operator) arranged that movie-like ride. So, in just a bit more than an hour I was in Paris! I was hosted at Yves Robert Hostel - an eco-friendly accomodation located in an old warehouse of a French railway company (it's a wow here!) just a few subway stops from the beautiful Montmartre. The first afternoon I was welcomed by Paul who took me to the Louvre and many other places of which I can't correctly remember the names, but the photos will tell!
The next day I met up with Lisa and Julien, who took me on intense tour of Paris. We visited dozens of places, sneaked into Sorbonne University, ate the best bagels and had our eyes always looking at wonderful architecture. After 12 hours of mainly walking and seeing as much as possible in such a short period, I ended my night overlooking Paris from Montmartre, full of positive feelings and just with a tiny bit of pain in my legs. Basically, every night I would pass out on my bed trying to steal a bit of rest before continuing the journey. And the next dawn, it was time to continue. I had a fairy helper, Ombeline, to get me to the airport, and then I sat on a plane to Frankfurt am Main.
Frankfurt had a different city vibe from Brussels and Paris, but I loved it all the same. Again located in the city centre (shout out to Hostelling International), in the Haus der Jugend Hostel, and picked up by Aïtem, I had a chance to visit places other tourists wouldn't have a chance to. We also visited Goethe University and student dorms where I had a chance to meet and to speak with many Erasmus students, and there I already made up my mind that I will find a way to become an Erasmus student myself.
What I really didn't expect was the amount of Croatian people in Frankfurt. On every corner I could hear Croatian, which turned out to be a life-saver when I was taking the subway to the airport at 3 a.m. Not really the safest and smartest way, but it was definitely an interesting experience. The fact that I met a group of Croatians who live "a village away" from my home in Pula is especially surprising!
A few hours after that, I found myself in Prague and settled in Downtown Hostel, which turned out to be the best hostel ever. My host for the city was Andy, and after a tour of the city and trying Czech cuisine, she had to work, while I had to find a way to meet people and see the city even more. Luckily, my hostel had all planned it out! Many activities for their guests, such as family dinner, Ghost tour of Prague and a pub crawl. That way I found myself in a group of people from USA all the way to Siberia and to New Zealand. Some were solo travellers, some groups of friends; some younger, some older; but we all became friends and great explorers of Prague.
As my last stop of the journey – Budapest was sugar on top. Cold sugar I must say! The temperatures were freezing and even the Danube River could witness that, but nonetheless I was warmly welcomed by Aventura Boutique Hostel and my city host Ámir. My hostel shared with me some leaflets and because I had a bit more time in Budapest, I joined a free walking tour, again surrounded with people from all around the world. And in the evening a tour of popular Ruin pubs of Pest.
As my journey came to an end, I was becoming really emotional. I felt and still feel such gratitude for this opportunity and for the luck I had – literally, every day in every city it was sunny; 10 flights went great; amazing accommodation; amazing hosts; amazing people and a lot of amazing memories.
I learned a lot in just these two weeks. A lot about myself (that I need to learn how to cook something more than hotdogs) and a lot about other people and other cultures. It is really hard to put into words what a big impact this had on me. It strengthened me in many ways and it also strengthened my will to continue exploring the world. The biggest cultural shock wasn't even being in 5 different countries in such a short time – it was more of a shock coming back home to my small town of Pula, and being back at the school desk.
To anyone that has been thinking about travelling or doing an Erasmus exchange and doesn't feel like they have courage for doing something like this - do it. Just do it. You will experience something incredible and realise you have more courage than you thought. And even though there might be some downs (for example slipping on the icy streets of Brussels, ouch), you will have so many good things coming to you that you will feel like you are floating on a cloud.
And here I am, 3 weeks after my journey, still floating on a cloud with a clear vision - that mobility is my lifestyle. And who knows? Maybe it is yours too. Give it a try. No regretting guaranteed.
I want to say "thank you" to:
- the Sun for shining all of the days;
- Erasmus Student Network and Mov'in Europe for creating this idea and getting everyone together for the competition, and giving me this opportunity;
- StudentUniverse for literally allowing me to float on the clouds;
- Hostelling International for hosting me and making me feel at home in their hostels;
- Thalys for taking me on a movie-like train ride to Paris;
- And every person who welcomed me and hosted me in their lives, and to all of those I met on the road as fellow travellers.