Beyond The States
Beyond The States
Study Abroad and Erasmus

Jenn talks about the prospect of studying abroad in another country when you’re already studying abroad as an international student. She interviews João Pinto from the Erasmus Student Network. Interesting fact: students who study abroad are 3x more likely to vote!

Podcast Transcript

Intro: You’re listening to the Beyond the States podcast with Jenn Viemont. Did you know that you can go to Europe and get your entire degree taught in English for less than one year of tuition at many American schools? Jenn will take you on a deep dive into the many benefits and options around English-taught higher education in Europe, helping to make the possibility less foreign.

Jenn Viemont: Hi, I’m Jenn Viemont. Thanks so much for joining me today. I’m really excited about today’s topic, which is study abroad. And yeah, technically, all of the episodes we’ve done, we’re about study abroad through being an international student in Europe. But we’re going to talk about the opportunities to study abroad while you’re a student in Europe, study abroad while you’re studying abroad, I spent a lot of time thinking about talking about and writing about the non financial benefits of studying abroad for sure the savings is huge, and it’s a tangible benefit, and often the one that first gets people thinking about the option of studying in Europe, but the secondary benefits often end up being as valued as a savings. Even people who go to school in the US often see the benefits around study abroad, and think that they’ll accomplish this through a study abroad program. In college. I’ve seen numbers anywhere from 35% to over 60% of students who plan to do a study abroad semester are programming college. But in fact, less than 10% of US college graduates do a study abroad program. And of those 60% of them are doing a program that is less than eight weeks in duration. So why is this? Why do so many students in the US plan to study abroad and then aren’t able to follow through? First and foremost, I think it deals with cost. Let’s look at some of this. So the University of Illinois for my own husband graduated from from college, they have many Study Abroad choices. One is with KU Leuven in Belgium. So students through this program attend classes at KU Leuven with KU Leuven students learning from KU Leuven professors. And this is really awesome because a lot of the US study abroad programs are more self contained. So you do get the authentic K you live and experience through this program. But here’s the problem. When you do this exchange, you pay over $15,000 for one single semester. But wait, it gets even more crazy. The tuition for an entire year for an international student at KU Leuven is right around $1,200 as opposed to the 4525. You have I charges for one semester of having access to those very same classes. And then you have a study abroad students pay over $600 A month when they’re in Belgium for housing. This is in a student residence with all the other American students, an international student can find housing and student residences for $375 per month, then there are a tremendous number of fees in addition to the tuition at UEFI, which is reduced but still you’re paying it that you’ll pay during your study abroad semester. A full time international student at KU Leuven will pay less for their entire degree than an Illinois semester abroad student. So here’s another crazy example. University of Wisconsin has a semester abroad at Hamburg University of Applied Science in Germany. The students who do this through Wisconsin, they need to know German. 

And they cost, if you’re an out-of-state student, it costs 24 grand for the semester. But guess how much a full degree student pays at that same school in Hamburg, nothing. There’s a semester fee that’s usually a couple $100 a semester but tuition is free even to international students, and they have programs in which no German is needed. Some schools use a private study abroad provider, with many of these students live a fairly self contained existence and take classes through the provider not even on the campus of a university, sort of like a cruise and experiencing the semester as a tourist as opposed to experiencing it as a visiting student. There’s one reputable provider who offers a semester in Copenhagen for $25,500 for one semester, and that does include housing and some meals, but not transportation to and from the US. So we can compare that to a student at Copenhagen Business School to very prestigious school that has Triple Crown international accreditation. yearly tuition at Copenhagen Business School is right around $10,000. And rooms in the student residences can be found for 400 to 500 per month. So you could be a full time student for two years with housing for what it would cost for one semester of study abroad. So here’s the good news. As an international full degree student in Europe, you have the opportunity to study abroad while you’re already studying abroad who without the obstacles we have here. This is due to the Erasmus Plus programme. The EU not only acknowledges that there are tremendous benefits to study abroad, not only on a personal level, but benefits to society. And these benefits are aligned with their policy agenda for growth for jobs for equality, social inclusion and language learning. They note that this international exposure leads to and this is a quote from the EU Commission, improved learning performance, enhanced employability and improved career prospects, increased self empowerment and self esteem, improved foreign language competences enhanced intercultural awareness, more active participation in society. And then they put their money where their mouth is, and they develop ways to remove obstacles, and encourage Study Abroad among students in Europe. Note that I’m saying students in Europe, not European students, because everything we’re talking about today is open to all degree students in Europe, even international students. So because of these programs, study abroad is an integral part of being a full time student in Europe. 

So today we’re going to talk to João Pinto. Pinto schwa was from Lisbon and he participated in study abroad himself when he was studying international relations as a student in Portugal. He’s now working on his PhD and serving as a president of the Erasmus student network international board ESN, the Erasmus student network is a student led organization formed to support students who are studying outside of their home country, as well, thanks so much for joining us today. Thank you for inviting so I was hoping you, we could start by you telling our listeners a little bit about Erasmus Plus, and ESN. And sort of what its goals are, what the program is the mission, if you could just…

João Pinto: So Erasmus Plus is a program by the European Commission, one of the most successful programs. Right now, Erasmus Plus ends the Plus, you can basically study abroad or leave abroad. At any point of your life, actually, the program goes from school education, to higher education, traineeships, sports, adult education, I mean, there’s many, many dimensions that are reflected in the program. And this means that whether you are having a an internship in a company, or that you’re learning how to become a cook, or you’re going to be the next daughter, in, you know, in the local hospital, all of these people are entitled to have an abroad experience that can go you know, from one week abroad, actually, to a full year abroad, or even more, depending on on which level of studies you want. The honest problem was set up in 1987. By European Commission, excellent before there was already some sort of exchange, then there was mostly at the vocational education and training sector. So companies were already cooperating and using some EU funding to do that. But in 87, day, they were brave enough and they they managed to touch in one of the topics that actually be used as very little power in is education. Education is actually run by the member states. The EU does not have a saying, let’s say to enhance education is run only to the correct program. So in your answer with because belongs to the EU, the states that that want to participate in that and all the states do have to comply to a certain set of rules that are set by the condition. And all those rules are illustrated in what we call the Erasmus charter of higher education in specific but there are also other starters for other parts of the program.

Jenn Viemont: If I could ask the question, we’ll fascist to clarify. It sounds like the EU started this Erasmus Plus Plus program as it pertains to higher education to promote low mobility. Is that correct?

João Pinto: Yes. First, it wasn’t beauty among students. So international students, you know, university theories that will go to another place to study for semester for year. That was the first but today, it’s a lot more people teachers also go abroad. And I think that the worst the worst you can have as a teacher that’s has no abroad experience, because it’s not going to pass that to the students. So the EU is very aware of that and really also instigates teachers to do that as well, staff, I mean, all sorts of people.

Jenn Viemont: Why does the EU think that mobility is important, specifically amongst higher education students?

João Pinto: So one might think that Erasmus is only about the academic dimension, so you kind of go to another university, and you may be worried something that you’re hosting, your home university is not offering you you know, and you kind of diversify your CV. It’s also very nice for competition you know, the job market especially today, you need to have a different CV. And I guess European students high efficiency rates are very well aware that’s an Erasmus is also a way for you to diversify your CV. That’s obviously very important employability. If you go to the eject the Erasmus impact study that was Launched by the Commission back in 2015. It shows that Erasmus students are much more employable, actually, than non mobile students, it’s much easier for them to find a job. And today employers also look for this kind of intrapreneurial attitudes of going abroad for a semester of leaving the risk. Also, this idea of working together with others from other nationalities is very important for most employers. So international students that go in Erasmus do have this perspective, and the EU does care a lot about this. However, there’s another dimension that is extremely important for, for European Union on Erasmus program, and there is the the building of a common European identity of a common of a generation that that crosses borders, borders, that sees way beyond, you know, what, national governments or what what happened, whatever happens in your, in your borders, networks of people that are made of people from several countries, and the reference program exists also for this. And I would say, actually, at the time that we are in today, in which, for some reason, you know, we kind of developed this fear of the other. This is happening so much now in in his in recent, more recent years, this segments of Erasmus program is actually I would say, for some even more important than the employability aspects, because it really helps people become more aware of other cultures, not only more tolerance, but more inclusive.

Jenn Viemont: Cultures. Yeah, and I’d even say it’s not just as European identity, I mean, students, correct me if I’m wrong, they can go to Russia too, correct?

João Pinto: Definitely, they can go anywhere, actually. But it’s more it’s easier to go within what we call the program countries, right? Countries are not only the EU countries, we have 28 member states. And there are other five countries of if I’m not mistaken, that are not EU member states, but our program countries, this means that you can go to them also to study they’re very, very easily. And also then the airman’s passport program has layers, you know, rings around Europe, of partner countries. And the further you go away a bit, the harder route, say it is to go to that place. But for example, it’s not really that hard to go, as you said very well to Russia, or to go to, even to Northern Africa, for example, because that’s already in the immediate neighborhood of the of the coffee, the second ring ring a bit older, and so on, and so on, and so on, it goes on until 12 or so rings.

Jenn Viemont: So it’s not just a European, that kind of mindset, they’re promoting. It’s an international sort of a global citizenship. 

João Pinto: That I agree with, I think it’s so important in this day and age, it actually started more from European perspective, but because Europe had to deal with the migration crisis, and with lots of other issues happening here, Rotarian also very present. Because of that it was very well understood correctly, my opinion by those citing the program needed to have a more internationalized approach. Right now we are reviewing that you are in program, the one we have now. And we are debating how the next program is going to look like. Because these programs that work for seven years frameworks. So the next program is going to start in 2021, first of January. So now doesn’t 18 is the time to now to present solutions for some of the problems identified and for the NEC, and for it to improve the program. And one of the things to follow up on what you just said, one of the things that was already proposed and that we know it’s very famous proposal that people really want to make sure that Eros was becomes more global than it is today. So to make it even easier for people from other parts of the world, to come to Europe to study and from Europeans to go outside of Europe to study. But as you rightly said, Today is all about a global citizenship more than more than just a European citizenship. But I do want to underline that for the EU is very important that the young people in the member states have developed this common EU citizenship or understanding of what it is the EU citizenship, because if that doesn’t, that does not happen, then situations like Brexit or others can find so right program also works a lot on raising this internal awareness awareness of the added value of of the EU. And it’s part of a bigger agenda. It’s part of a bigger agenda that includes not having borders in within the EU, you know, just to travel freely, of not paying paying roaming, you don’t pay roaming today in the US you go to France with your friend, your Portuguese phone number and you’d be the same as home as if you’d be at home. So more and more of this. You feel at home even though you are in a different country kind of policies are being developed.

Jenn Viemont: So cool. This all just kind of gives me goosebumps. So here in the US I stated in when I was talking before you joined us, study abroad is very rare. less than 10% of us students do a semester outside of their school. For a whole host of reasons how but how common is it amongst students in Europe? How many students are doing a semester abroad? For a year? Or a year?

João Pinto: Yeah, look, the most recent numbers I saw, I think that 4.4 million higher education students have done the Erasmus program. And in total, if you join, if you put together all of the other dimensions of the program, so the youth set to the traineeship center, as I mentioned before, in total, we have about 9 million people that already participated in the Erasmus program. This means that from 87, since 87 9 million people in this continent had the opportunity to have some sort of abroad experience from one week to one year, maybe some sort of abroad experience, volunteering, also very important I mentioned, I forgot to mention, you can also volunteer abroad with Erasmus Plus program. I have I have this very close friend, for example, who, you know, did his Erasmus in Italy. So normally Erasmus left to be in Italy. Then he wanted, he was Portuguese, then he wants to stay in Italy, hysterically for a while he came back, he wants to go back to Italy. So what did he do, he applied for volunteering abroad opportunity within Erasmus program, he was a student of journalism. So you went to do a radio show in a small town in Italy for a full year. So this is also possible volunteering.

Jenn Viemont: And what I want to note to our listeners is, number one, you don’t have to be an EU citizen citizen to to do the Erasmus Plus program as you can do this. And then the other thing is that most undergraduate programs have a semester set aside, where students can either do an internship or they can do a study abroad program, or they can, you know, do a minor if they want it, their home school, but these opportunities are sort of built into most of the undergraduate programs, at least those that are taught in English. I do want to talk in just a minute about ESN. And everything you guys do to support the students. But first, in terms of the ways that the EU supports students mobility, increasing their mobility, some of the logistics and correct me if I’m wrong, there’s an opportunity for students to apply for grants correct. If they’re going to involve themselves in an Erasmus Plus programme,

João Pinto: All of what I just said is covered by grants. When you go into rosins, by definition, you get a grant, when you don’t go in the residence without a grant, I mean, you can do that. That’s the person that is very well, the large majority of the people go on Erasmus with the grants. And then this is also the truth for other centers. So not only for higher education.

Jenn Viemont: So you can study let’s just talk about study abroad, for instance, you can study abroad for up to a year, per bachelor’s program, correct?

João Pinto: Yes. So let’s say if you believe the bachelors are going to spend one full year abroad, then you move to the Masters, you can also spend when you have your master’s abroad, with a PhD, you can also spend one year of your PhD abroad. So in total, actually, and you also will always think about three cycles. So in these three cycles, cycles, bachelor’s, master’s, and PhD, in total, if you combine everything, you can actually spend three years abroad, always having an Erasmus Plus grants all the time always.

Jenn Viemont: Which is just really incredible to me. And as I mentioned to you before, when we’re speaking, I often have students who say, Oh, I really, really, really want to study in a particular country. And maybe that country has less programs, that would be a good fit for them. I always tell them, Don’t confine yourself to one country, because through the Erasmus program, you could spend one year of your three year program in that country. Absolutely. Um, so so when you’re talking about a grant, I know one thing that is covered is that you’re only paying the tuition from your home school. Correct. So if I’m, if I’m coming from a school, like KU Leuven, we had a member who went to Leuven, and his tuition was right around $1,000 a year. If he even goes to a school in, let’s say, the Netherlands that charges $12,000 a year, what tuition will he pay? 

João Pinto: Paul, he’s in the Netherlands, the home the home university, still only $1,000 that he pays a living.

Jenn Viemont: Which is just incredible. And are there also options for stipends for living costs?

João Pinto: Yes, so depending on your social condition, you can get a higher rent as well, you can get top ups. Also, for example, if you haven’t, if you have a disability, you can also have top up depending on how severe disabilities actually depending on some types of some types of disabilities they receive. Funding also covers the second person to that you take with you Wow, another country. So you can also get the second person to help you paid by the program. So yes, social condition, your backgrounds matters. Then the grants are also calculated in accordance to the differences between the GDP of the countries so you know, if you go from a country that has a high DGP GDP to another country has a lower GDP, you’re probably gonna get less than the opposite. If a student that goes from that country with a lower GPA goes to your country, because the students don’t need more money to, you know, living costs for living costs. If

Jenn Viemont: You’re going from Hungary, for instance, to Norway, your stipend will be greater your living kind of your your is going to be greater. Yes, exactly. If you go from Norway to Hungary,

João Pinto: Yes, most probably. Yeah, exactly. 

Jenn Viemont: So tell me that. So again, in the US, a lot of times, kids will do a study abroad program. My own I have a brother who did a study abroad program, I have half brother. So this was fairly recently. And he went to Copenhagen, and did not study at a particular university. It was really this self contained thing lived with the other study abroad students. So it wasn’t necessarily an authentic experience. And what cracked me up about this, though, they lived in this bubble in Copenhagen, I mean, sure, they got to see great sites and eat great food and whatever else. No, they lived in this bubble. When he got back to school, they had to do an Acklam a reclamation program, which just cracks me up. It’s because like, I don’t see how they actually acclimated in in Copenhagen to begin with. Anyway, I’m digressing. But, um, but so let’s talk about ESN. And what you guys do what your goal is, for international students and what you do to help with that.

João Pinto: Yeah, exactly. So at the Erasmus student network ESN, is turning 30 next year. And it’s an organization that was created by indirectly by the Erasmus program itself, in a way actually the first students that were coming back from their first abroad experience when you’re on a sports program. And the student, they were different students in the campus, that he needed an organization that would be there to support their integration in the campus, and also somehow to defend their interests, you know, in university, and they said, they set up this organization with, with some support from European Commission at the time. And in 1989, yes, and was was created. Since then it expanded tremendously. And today, it’s present in 40 countries. So it goes beyond 28 member states of the EU. It’s present in all the 33 program countries around the world and countries. And, in total, there’s about 550 work organizations in these countries. And all of this is done by a very large team of 15,000 volunteers that we have spread across the continents, all of them are students, or the large majority are students who just volunteer give part of their time to integrate the international students that are arriving to their campus. So instead of going home and watching TV, what they do is that they prepare events for students, they prepare city tours, they try to make deals with a local museum to have cheaper tickets, and they all go to museum together, or even with a local pub, or have a party there and you know, have a nice time together. So all of the activities that are local level, or the majority of the event is done at local level of VSM. By this organization, that is volunteers, the vast majority aimed at integrating international students in that society and making sure that the students have the best experience possible and have the most out of the experience. And this is done by all sorts of programs. You know, we have programs targeting the health of international students, we have we have now we’re developing now a program that is going to be a sort of Olympics of international students. I mean, we already exists on a pilot phase. You basically have local competitions, national competitions, and then an international competition in three modalities, that’s also sports as a language that everybody speaks and as a way of promoting inclusion. We also have programs for people with disabilities. So, all sorts of genes you can imagine we organize at the local level, then these are coordinated by national levels. So in 40 countries, and the national levels work closely with the national coordination of Erasmus Plus. So as you can imagine, the Erasmus Plus is done by European Commission here in Brussels, but then it is coordinated by the national levels. It is a desk decentralized, mostly decentralized program. So our national level works very closely with the national level of Erasmus Plus, while the local level works very closely with the 1000 universities, we are present around you. And that’s during your EU in Brussels. What we do at an international level, is basically advocating for the rights of international students all the time, is trying to reduce obstacles to mobility. There’s a few obstacles to international beauty. We are always fighting against them can talk more about this later, for example. So you know, this is why our organization is successful and why it helps so much the program we developed because we have a direct link with the students with a participant of the program. We haven’t done direct link with them. And the students tell tell us what are the problems we see on the ground? What are the problems, and all of these channels to the respective level that can solve the problem. And some of them reach us in Brussels. So I have stories of personal stories of students on the ground that reached me. And I pass that message to the commission. And we tried to do something together about it. So this is why it works. We are, you know, and enhance working together.

Jenn Viemont: So it sounds like you have the national level where you are, and you’re in Brussels, and then each major city within the EU, or has a local ESN. Correct?

João Pinto: Yes. Even outside of the EU, so we are in 40 countries, but not only major cities. If I think about my own my own home country, if I think about Portugal, we have 14 local organizations in Portugal, in Portugal, and that’s a small country. Yeah, we have 14 just there, and that in 14 different cities. So we are covering actually 15 cities in Portugal. So one of the official words for two cities. And I think the smallest city where we are presence probably has about you know, 30 to 40,000 inhabitants. But because it has a small university, we opened in the same session there. But it’s very important to understand that here in Brussels, or the national levels, we do not go to the universities, sections, you know, we’re not, you know, this is not how it works, what happens is, the large majority of our book organizations are opened by students themselves. The classical Eastern story is they go abroad, they have an amazing time, most probably, they’re going to have a nice intersection, helping them you know, and making sure they have the greatest time, when they come back. The university does not have a distance section, and they say, Hey, I want to open one. I was like, Dude, that’s a contract the national level and the national level helps them. And this is how it goes, Oh, that’s really cool.

Jenn Viemont: So then, at the local level, that local level, that student group, that student volunteer group, they are planning these parties, they’re planning the excursions they’re planning language learning events, and they’re implementing the programs for that, that enhance mobility, correct.

João Pinto: There you go. Exactly. And you’ve touched on a very, very nice point. The document that kind of regulates what universities have to provide for international students, is called the I mentioned before the Erasmus charter of higher education, this documents, any university that wants to participate in the program has to sign this charter. And right now, there are about 5000, charterholders, around the continent. So 5000, let’s say higher education institutions are from all sizes and shapes, from, you know, gigantic institutions, like you know, the Oxford University or others. And two very tiny institutions, just like the one I mentioned, is in a small town in Portugal. So all these have to respect the same rules. And one of the lines that says Erasmus charter, and that it’s written there is that universities have to provide to the international students, opportunities for them to relate with the workforce, to experience the local culture, to grow with it as well. And also to influence it, you know, because it has to go both ways. And this line here, is very hard actually, for universities to implemented because it requires a char, that they do not have, it requires them to be, you know, doing the nights with the students outside or to spend the weekend with the students. It requires them. If the if the students have a problem with the landlord, we have sometimes, you know, fraud problems with landlords requires them to go with the students to lawyer or to go with the students to talk with the landlord and see if the problem can be solved. All of this that I just mentioned, is mostly done by ESN. So we are the ones that really help universities taken care of, of this line. 

Jenn Viemont: And one thing I want to point out is that ESN is not just for students who are doing a mobility program, it’s for all international students. So if you are a full degree student, definitely get in touch with the ESN. It’s it’s it’s for you as an international student, correct?

João Pinto: Absolutely. We of course, I would love to hear what about Erasmus students, you know, we are talking about Erasmus program. But it’s not only that, if you’re doing a full degree, you are absolutely invited to conduct your local eastern section and join them on the next activity. And I mean, we are very proud to organize 1000s of activities every year. We have weeks we dedicate to some topics. For example, every semester, we have a couple of weeks that we call social inclusion weeks, and all of our focus is on activities that promote you know, the social inclusion of international students with the locals, but also with society in general as a broad concept. And just to give you some numbers on the last social inclusion week, wasn’t wasn’t weeks that were just november december recently, over the network, we had about 640 activities just on social inclusion. So let aside No party trips, or, you know, health activities, sports activities, cultural activities aside, that’s in those two weeks just on social inclusion, about 640 of us organized over the continent. So yes, if you’re international students do so contact us.

Jenn Viemont: And often ESN is involved in orientation weeks for international students put on by the school. And so it does, I think this is great, because it does introduce students to the different student associations and, and some countries have programs that are sort of similar to our Greek system here in the US, which can be hard to kind of navigate and figure out which ones are good for international students ESN, often in many places helps with that through orientation. 

João Pinto: Yeah. I mean, we go as far as in depending on the section, of course, and organization, of course, and how far you are from from the airport. But in many, many cases, we go as far as picking them up in the airports, we also have in place a buddy system, which I guess you also have in us, I mean, it’s a common practice, a local student that helps the international students throughout the semester, and often these local students goes, you know, and gets the picks, they will call the international students at a local train station or at the airport, if it’s nearby, you know, helps us students finding accommodation for them, opening a bank account if needed. So a subway ticket, I mean, buying a metro ticket, those those things are things that you are so confusing beginning, you don’t speak the language. Sometimes you don’t even know how to read the alphabet, let alone the language. The local stream is going to help you with that. 

Jenn Viemont: So what I think is really cool is of course, you have parties and all of that stuff, which is great. But but that you have these programs that really speak to your mission of integrating international students to the host societies, and getting them outside of that bubble, making sure that they leave that bubble while they’re abroad. Can you tell me when one of the programs that really accomplishes that is your social Erasmus program Correct?

João Pinto: Indeed. So our our vision, the whole vision of the whole organization is enriching society through international students. So we truly believe that the Erasmus program in any sort of ability for that matter is not only about the employability aspects, but it’s also about the citizenship aspect, as we mentioned, as well before. So through our programs, we try to facilitate this process and make sure that the students really when they are abroad, that they really leave something in their society as well. And they pick something. So one of the most famous programs we have is called Social Erasmus, as you mentioned, this, this program is one of our oldest programs. And is also I would say, the most successful one. As you can imagine, international students, when they go abroad, they very easily, you know, meet each other, they stay in their bubble, and they’re going to pass their semester or the year in that level. It’s very hard for them to meet local students, but also the opposites for the local students also very hard to penetrate in this very, you know, thick bubble where the international students are living. So both maybe are curious and interested in the other side, but they don’t, they don’t know how to relate. So what we do is to facilitate this process, and inclusion, Erasmus, we do it through several types of activities, being you know, by helping the homeless, this is very typical, we go out with local charity organizations. And we have the Rasmus students going with the specialists on the ground giving food to the to the locals, out to the homeless, dog shelters, you know, either they go there, and they spend some time with the animals, or we do, you know, collecting foods without international students, and then somebody goes there and delivers food for the dog shelter, for example, if there’s a natural disaster, we always mobilize international students, you know, to clean the area, if we can help, if it’s a wildfire, you know, to reforest the area, planting trees, and so on. For example, one very nice activity that is now quite common, is we go to orphanage and we paint we paint the walls together with the kids, for example. So you have these little kids, or not so little, that for some reason are in that institution. They really have a different day or different days with all these foreigners that full of energy, you know, they’re in their 20s or early 20s. Most of them are full of energy and curiosity. And you spend the whole day painting painting some walls, together with his kids. So yes, social Erasmus is a very successful program. And we do believe that it does reach its goal and its goal is making sure that the students international students, not only go home, returned home with something from their past society in them, but but also when they return home, the return, being sure that they left something in that whole society as well. That’s why the most of that program is with your mark.

Jenn Viemont: That’s really cool. It speaks more to the global citizenship to is providing the host society, an opportunity to be exposed to different cultures and citizens of different countries as well.

João Pinto: As Mark, you have to see that we do care as well about sustainable development goals of the United Nations. So the goals that we all have, as citizens of this planet have to reach by 2030. And the organization we we are, we are not afraid of seeing it, we are proud to know that we actively contribute to these goals, especially to goal number four quality education, we fight a lot for the call for an education that is internationalized. And then these affordable, and also that is inclusive, so that all sorts of people can can engage and of course, an international education. Because here’s what we’re talking about here.

Jenn Viemont: The other program, I think, that you have is really cool and different from what we have here is your healthy experience abroad program. You know, again, this is something parents asked me about a lot, there’s a different drinking age, and how does that impact. I tell them what I’ve learned from students who have studied in Europe, which is that the drinking culture in Europe, in college is a lot different than the drinking culture in the US. And I think some of that is because since the drinking ages is younger, you’re not saying don’t drink, you’re sort of providing tools for it to be done responsibly. And it sounds like that is what the healthy experience abroad program does.

João Pinto: Indeed. So for the healthy lifestyle I mentioned. And that’s something I have to tell you that we are now developing even more. We are not taking the next step. But I can I can end with that. But to start with what we already do. So having placed a program called responsible party, which we organize together with a very famous worldwide alcohol company, and this program is actually brandless. I mean, they does not have the brand of the company at all. So they do not publicize themselves through the program. They just financing. It’s a sort of corporate social responsibility, if you know what I mean. They really funds the healthy consumption of dairy and any other alcohol product by Fat Man. So how do we do that? So as we said, we organize a lot of parties around the continents, but also a lot of sports events, a lot of cultural events, the social events we mentioned, and what we make sure even though the problem is called responsible party want to make sure you disseminate this healthy lifestyle message across all of our events. But it’s started with the parties and that that’s why we kept the name. And that’s also where it makes more weight impact is beer. How does it go? Very simple. We first saw the parties we organized, we tried to label them as being a responsible party. So it’s also parties, not a team of a party. The party can be you know, the Saint Valentine’s party or, you know, talk about the next festivities festival, festival season 10 Valentine’s party, let’s say instead of calling it which also party used to call it the way you want to call it, but you put a label under the name saying this is a responsible party. This basically means that before the party together with this alcohol company, we will train our volunteers. So they send volunteers everyday volunteers, we will train them on the topic of responsible alcohol consumption. What does it mean? How do you prevent, here use expression smart prevention? And if that’s what we tend to do, we train them and also give them the tools, actual tools to go to the party. So they go to parties, and they are dressed differently. They have sent their T shirts, and they are called the party squads. And the party squads actually, is around the party informing the students that are there know having a good time informing the students how to have a responsible power consumption. And this information is not done, you know, in a, you know, in a way that is not interesting for young people. No, it’s done in a way that they understand, first of all, because it’s done by their peers, the ones that they know as well from other contexts. So that’s just another context where they need. That’s one of the things. And the second is that the message really the visuals, and everything is really about that generation about millennials and now even not the other, the next generation already. So the goals of the other one is to increase the health literacy of international students by making them knowing their bodies better knowing how much alcohol their body can actually handle. And we we are not afraid of talking about alcohol with the students. I mean, they’re 20 something it’s time for them to learn how to drink responsibly. And then the second goal of the of the program is to give them the tools to actually do that. And the main two actually is the more one of the scenes the most simple products in the world is water, absolutely around giving bottles of water to the students. So they can alternate a dose of alcohol with a dose of water and the doses are met. measured in a leaflet that we also give to the students, where they can see what is the dose that my body as a male or a female can handle with this certain way to certain heights. And you calculates, and immediately you understand what is your female.

Jenn Viemont: And that’s what the water bottle correct that that sort of information from the water bottle. Yeah, so we always wish with the water bottle. So one thing I noticed a lot is, families are often drawn to the idea of studying in Europe, because of the cost, that’s the first the most concrete benefit. And then as they start exploring more, and they listen to some of these podcasts, or webinars, or their kids actually start doing it, they recognize that the secondary benefits are just as important as the money that they’re saving. What are some of the secondary benefits, you see to to studying abroad and using the resources created by ESN, and the Erasmus Plus program?

João Pinto: We already mentioned in this podcast, the employability aspects, I mean, it’s proven, I do recommend you to have a look at the Erasmus impact study, all of these numbers pop out very clearly in the statistics, there are some students are more likely to get an employer and you have to get employed faster. And you know, after the first year of studies, then non mobile students, so of course, he’s not only Erasmus students is mobile students what I mean, right, definitely one of the aspects. We also mentioned in this call the citizenship aspects, you know, becoming more internationalized. All of this is so real. Also here in Europe, that just this morning, I was I was talking about these numbers in another context. And it’s still in belief, it’s still unbelievable how, especially the biggest example we have, especially in the context of Brexit, and what’s happened in the UK have on the vote, it’s unbelievable, to see that actually, young people did not vote to leave their people voted to remain 70 something percent of them voted to remain. And when you look into the numbers of young people, you will see that actually, Erasmus students are three times more likely to vote, then none of our students and we also have this proof, in another research we did called Erasmus voting assessments. And it is not only true for for Brexit is true for for any election, because when you go abroad, you develop the sense of citizenship, his sense of belonging to certain society, you just want to exercise all of your, you know, power as a overpowers as a citizen. And voting is, of course, one of them. So that’s another dimension being a more active citizen. And then a very important dimension I would also like to mention is the inclusion aspect of going abroad. And using the visual, you also become a lot more inclusive to other cultures, but not only other cultures, other segments of society, even within your culture, because, especially within Erasmus program, because this opportunity is given to all sorts of people from all backgrounds. It’s a place where we actually find people that come from, you know, poorer families or richer families, because the grant is there for everybody to have today. But if you have a lower income, you’re going to get a bigger grant, you’re gonna get to talk on your rents, and all sorts of people in society, regardless of their neighborhoods, irregardless of how bad or how broken your family is, or any of the problems at home, anybody can actually participate in the program. And today, we are so addicted, let’s say to this idea of inclusion, that we are debating even niche parts of society, we are debating how can you include, for example, young people from the deep countryside, you know, that have to take care of the animals on a daily basis? How do you make sure that these people also participate in the abroad experience, because they also have to have, at least for one week, they also have to have the opportunity of understanding the world as this no open borders, society. So we actually very happy we have some numbers to illustrate. Erasmus is already quite successful in his in his regards, especially in the short term mobility programs. And you see, for example, that 25% of the participants have shorter mobility, which go for, you know, 10 days, 50 days. 25% come from disadvantaged backgrounds. That’s a very big number. We think about it, about a bit over 1 million people. With over 1 million people. I think it’s 1,100,000, something like this, have participated in short term exchanges. This means that Erasmus has given the opportunity to about 300,000 people 300,000 Young people, mostly that could go abroad, and otherwise would never go abroad and perhaps stay in this negative spiral that comes from the neighborhood where they where they’re going up from the school where they’re going up, or from the home where they’re going up. So Erasmus is truly changing lives. At least these 300 1000s I hope So, I suspect it did change a little bit.

Jenn Viemont: This is just so cool. And I said it before, but I literally have goosebumps right now most as a parent whose child will benefit from these these programs. And what I really appreciate is that it’s not just these theoretical goals, you know, we have the goal for mobility, you guys are really getting in there as volunteers, and making sure that the supports are in place for for students to take advantage of the programs created by the EU. And I really, as a parent, and as you know, somebody who is encouraging American students to to study abroad, I just I really appreciate all you guys do. Well, thanks so much for joining us today.

João Pinto: Thank you very much. What used to be patient was a pleasure.

Jenn Viemont: Can we talk about how cool all this is for a minute, I often talk to students who insist that they want to study in a particular country. Sometimes that country doesn’t have programs that align with their study areas, though. I always tell students not to be dead set on one country because of these opportunities. Far more countries have courses conducted in English than full programs, which opens up many more opportunities to study in that country under Erasmus further, Erasmus ensures that you’re not going to be paying higher tuition rates than you were at your home school, and even offers the opportunities for grants to offset living costs. So you know, we talked earlier in the episode today about the UEFI students studying at Leuven. So let’s look at Leuven again, the degree student at Leuven, you’re paying about $600 per semester in tuition. The Netherlands is another sought after destination with a bit higher tuition not compared to the US, of course, but you can expect to pay around $10,000 a year. If you spend a semester at a school in the Netherlands under the Erasmus program, you’ll continue to pay the $600 per semester, not $5,000 per semester. And she would pay is a student and Leuven. So another option offered by Erasmus Plus that we didn’t discuss, but that international students can participate in offer students the opportunity to do an internship in another country. Again, students can apply for a grant to help with living costs. And most programs in Europe have a semester built into the program for students to take advantage of these possibilities. You can do Erasmus programs for 12 months total of each level of study. So this means you can do a year abroad, a year internship or one semester abroad and one for your internship. And you can do this full year for your bachelor’s degree and then again during your master’s degree. So this is one of the things that I really hope catches on in the states too. I feel like there’s some hope around it. There’s this one really great article I’ve posted on Facebook before, where Michelle Obama talks about the importance of study abroad, and there are actually initiatives around increasing mobility among us college students, noting that the skills gained are imperative to compete in today’s global economy. There’s actually a bill that’s been developed to ensure that more students study abroad and gain these skills. Unfortunately, the predictions are stating that this bill only has a 1% chance of being accorded luckily we don’t have to wait for this is we can benefit from both studying abroad with the Affordable full degree programs in Europe, as well as the opportunities under Erasmus Plus and the support provided by ESN.