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Erasmus: bridging cultural gaps to create a European identity

Kaja Sorg
04.02.2014 - 20:45
Photo of Hadrien Fiere playing guitar

We believe in people who are always eager to learn. People who are not afraid to leave their comfort zone to discover new cultures, meet new people, share their experiences and enrich themselves with priceless memories and learnings.

Broadening the academic and personal horizon

Hadrien Fiere is a curious, open-minded young man. So when he had the opportunity to study abroad for seven months with the Erasmus Programme, he didn't think twice about it. He graduated from university two years ago and now works as a Communications Consultant. He says that his experience in Denmark changed his life. How? Here is his story:

“I grew up on the outskirts of Paris. I have always wanted to travel. Back in 2011, during the first year of my Master’s Degree in Communication at La Sorbonne, I had the chance to go and study in the Aarhus School of Business. I had such a good time there and met so many great people that I often go back to Aarhus during my holidays: I have such a strong connection with this city now! Thanks to the Erasmus Programme, I was able to travel and live abroad. This was a tremendous experience both on a human and an academic level.”

Building up a common European identity

“The Erasmus Programme is about bridging the gap between nations, between cultures and between languages. In a cosmopolitan setting, among students and teachers from a wide variety of different backgrounds and nationalities, a common understanding is born through sharing each other’s experiences. One might well say that it is the common European identity, a feeling of belonging to a wider group, and even sharing the same values”, explains Hadrian.

In a cosmopolitan setting, among students and teachers from a wide variety of different backgrounds and nationalities, a common understanding is born through sharing each other’s experiences Hadrien Fiere

It is indeed true. According to a European Commission survey, the mobility and exchange programmes raise awareness of the European community. The Erasmus Programme is a great example of bringing people together and helping to create the European identity.

For example, only 29% of all 18-24 year-olds in the EU participated in the 2009 European elections, but 60% of participants in youth exchange programmes put their ballot in the box.

The Erasmus Programme provides an exceptional opportunity to both solidify one’s sense of belonging to the European Union and to get a stronger sense of what makes each nation unique

We, the EPP Group, have always worked and continue to work on reinforcing youth exchange programmes and making them more available to young people.

Another great success story is that we secured an increase of more than 40% for youth exchange programmes under the new, reinforced Erasmus+ Programme. This expanded version of Erasmus will make it possible for about 5 million young people to study abroad over the next 6 years

Learning from each other

Hadrian admits that the seven months he spent in Denmark helped him put the French teaching system into perspective by confronting it with a more social, more team-oriented approach to learning in line with the Scandinavian work habits - a tight-knit group of like-minded people working towards a collective goal.

Creating the European identity through sharing common values, changing experiences and learning from each other

The Erasmus Programme provides an exceptional opportunity to both solidify one’s sense of belonging to the European Union and get a stronger sense of what makes each nation unique. Sometimes, when meeting a new person, when you both discover that you have done an Erasmus abroad, the connection is immediate: “Oh, are you an Erasmus baby too?”.

This is what the Erasmus Programme is overall – creating the European identity through sharing common values, changing experiences and learning from each other.

We believe in people. #believeinpeople

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