This scheme has a really little name. And hiding behind that fancy small name is a long name, and a fantastic opportunity to work, travel, live abroad as part of your degree.
Erasmus is the European Region Action Scheme for the Mobility of University Students. If you decide you want to work or study, volunteer overseas during the time that you are doing your degree, and it's not integrated into your course already, then the Erasmus Scheme will let you do that. If you're confident that you want to work abroad or study abroad, then you might want to consider not using the Erasmus Scheme, but applying for a course that has a year overseas already integrated into it. Because the Erasmus Scheme, you apply to when you're already at university, once you're already on a degree course. You apply to it during your first year, but there's no guarantee you're going to be accepted. You apply via your university Erasmus or international office, and you have to apply for something that is relevant to your course. You can't be studying architecture, and want to spend a year in Italy studying creative writing.
If you get to the course, your university will help you find accommodation while you're there. It will help you fill in the forms which might be in a completely different language, one that you're not familiar with. And it will take you through the university process of picking modules, picking courses for you to study while you're there. The placement can last anywhere between three months and 12 months, and you can go on more than one Erasmus placement during your time. The total time that you're on placement cannot be more than 12 months. The exceptions for this would be extended courses like medicine or architecture, where you can spend up to 24 months on placement. If you want to apply to a school both the university that you're currently at and the college, you're applying to needs to be part of the scheme. You'll need to be doing your placement in your second, third, fourth, or fifth year; you cannot do it during your first year.
There is some financial support available, via their grant scheme, but not everybody's going to get the grants. While you're on your Erasmus placement, your host university won't be charging you tuition fees, but you may still have some other associated expenses, like lab fees that you have to pay.
Even though it is called the European scheme, there are loads of countries outside the European area, that are involved in this project.
Countries that can participate fully are;
Countries that have limited participation;
Bosnia and Herzegovina
For the moment, Brexit is not going to impact the U.K.'s involvement in the Erasmus Scheme. The advantages are wide-ranging. This is going to be a fantastic opportunity for you, to go and live, to go and study, volunteer, work to experience the culture in a completely different country. It is going to look amazing on your CV, your application form after university. You're showing that you can work independently, that you can experience new things, that you can travel, and that you can work well with a wide range of people.
For a lot of people, going to university is for studying further something you're passionate about or looking to get into a career with, but for me that wasn't the case. I wasn't sure about what it was I wanted to do career wise after finishing my studies, and I didn't really have any passions that I could take further. So I picked a subject I enjoyed and was good at and looked to see what different courses were on offer around it. In the end I settled on Business Economics (which I am thoroughly enjoying and doing well in).
This wasn't actually my first idea. Initially I wanted to go into architecture, however it required certain qualifications which at the time were not my forte and that demotivated my interest in perusing it any further (not that this affected my interest in architecture in general). Through my time in 6th form, I developed an interest into business studies and psychology (which lead to a possible study/career interest in criminology). However, when it came down to my exams, out of the two I did far better in business which helped sway my final course choice. I think the thing that students need to remember is that you don't need to feel pressured to have your life planned out already. Its great if you do, but its also fine if you don't. So long as you end up doing something you enjoy (I was lucky to find that fairly quickly, but it can take trying several different things) that's all that matters.