12 people, 12 life-changing Erasmus stories

Erasmus is… learning to ride a bike, music, making a new home for yourself, making friends and so much more… as these stories tell us.

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Everyone’s Erasmus looks different: each of these images has a story behind them. © European Commission

Some memories can be a bit blurry, a bit old, but precious nonetheless.

We asked you to share your Erasmus experiences with us some time ago. Many of you responded and shared stories of fun, friendship, warmth, travels, and of all the new experiences and opportunities that helped you later in life.

Together, let’s journey back in time and look at some of your recollections from the past.

1. One of the first batches of students

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Personal archive of Michelle Romero, 1988 © European Commission

“‘Looking for volunteers to take part in Erasmus exchange with the University of Seville’. A short sentence pinned on a notice board at the University of Lyon II. That’s how my Erasmus experience started in 1988. The rest is the most exciting experience of my student years. We felt like pioneers! The city and its people were welcoming and lively. The picture (pre-digital of course) is of friends in the Plaza de España on a winter afternoon stroll after lessons. I still feel the warmth of it all.

— Michelle Romero, France (Higher Education, Spain, 1988)

2. New experiences, new people

Personal archive of Sabine Ward, 1990 © European Commission

“This photo was taken in the old campus building in December 1990 after an exam at the end of my first term in Oxford where I was with the Erasmus programme organised by my German university. It represents a number of things to me: meeting loads of new and different people the excitement of new experiences and the freedom to explore the world! Oh and exams which are somewhat important! I truly believe if I hadn’t done Erasmus I wouldn’t now be married to a Brit having two trilingual children.”

— Sabine Ward, Germany (Higher Education, United Kingdom, 1990)

3. From experiencing Erasmus to promoting it

Personal archive of Antonella Pasqualone, 1992 © European Commission

“This is such an old photo. Not a good one and not digital but of great significance to me. It was taken in 1992 during my Erasmus experience in Spain. The town was Gijón. It was the very first time that I travelled abroad. I wanted so much to go meet new people and to learn a new language! I was simply happy!!! And now? Still at University as a professor. And I’m still promoting Erasmus and other international experiences among my students!”

— Antonella Pasqualone, Italy (Adult Education, Spain, 1992)

3. Europe is music

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Personal archive of Silvana Muratori, 1994 © European Commission

“Youth in action, 94. “Europe in music” when young people saw Europe as an opportunity, integration, friendship, a better future. Today many of the young participants are musicians: some also in Europe. And then, where do you find a Europe as happy as the one in the background? Dedicated to Luca, Alessandro, Matteo, Marcella, Michael etc. who are still friends today.”

— Silvana Muratori, Italy (Youth, Italy, 1994)

4. Paella: From Spain to Belgium

Personal archive of Amparo Navarrete Ferrer, 1996 © European Commission

“The Leonardo Da Vinci program of professional training in hotel business. It was a fantastic experience that helped me to share from our stay in Dongelberg, knowledge about other places, habits and ways of preparing typical dishes. I have chosen this photo because I am Spanish and Valencian and you can see how I teach a Belgian girl to make a paella.”

— Amparo Navarrete Ferrer Spain (Vocational Education and Training, 10 Belgium, 1996)

5. Peace and Europe

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Personal archive of Davide Livraghi, 1998 © European Commission

“On large sheets, we had painted the idea of peace and Europa …(it was) 1998 (after) an earthquake … We brought our sheets to Assisi and the firefighters hung them on the scaffolding that protected the most beautiful monuments I grew up (with) from 14 years old. I remember the experience as if it were yesterday….. I have friends since then in many places and am still in contact with the friends I had at that time.”

— Davide Livraghi, Italy (Youth, Italy, 1998)

6. Erasmus is finding a new home

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Personal archive of Enrico Dal monte, 2001 © European Commission

“It was taken in 2001 the moment I got the keys of my house in Barcelona after seeing 30 houses… what a day!”

— Enrico Dal monte, Italy (Higher Education, Spain, 2001)

7. Back when Erasmus had a different name

Personal archive of Sintija B, 2005 © European Commission

This was my first time when I went abroad and in Erasmus+ (at that time there was different name of the programme). That is how my travel addiction started. Since then I travelled almost all Europe by participating in Erasmus+ projects. Life changing experiences and development of my personality. One of the brightest highlights of my life. Picture was taken in year 2005 in Sweden.

The feeling of connection is obvious here. My motto: Learn to travel, travel to learn.

— Sintija B. Latvia (Youth, Sweden, 2005)

8. Erasmus can change your life

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Personal archive of Stefano Scagliarini, 2015 © European Commission

“Our love was born in Erasmus. During my Erasmus exchange I had the opportunity to meet new cultures and people to live in a new country enjoying its reality. This particular experience is also able to transmit you feelings of hope optimism and union in a virtuous way to take care of each other. European Union with the Erasmus programme definitely changed my life. I found love. Love in all its beautiful expressions.”

— Stefano Scagliarini, Italy (Youth, Portugal, 2015)

9. Gaining new perspectives

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Personal archive of Boba M. Baluchova, 2009 © European Commission

“Thanks to A.C.T.O.R. Romania I had a chance to make little hospital patients smile again. In 2009, together with other international EVS volunteers we prepared beautiful theatre plays for them — about clown doctors curing sick animals. Animation activities and workshops twisted my silly idea into the ongoing mission. EVS stay can make you aware of topics that you’ve been missing your entire life. It can be a really eye-opening experience and unforgettable satisfaction from what you have done.”

— Boba M. Baluchova, Slovakia (Adult Education, Romania, 2009)

10. No war

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Personal archive of Rosa Reboreda, 2003 © European Commission

“The title I give to this picture is “No war”. This was what we were shouting in the streets of London together with millions of people on that 15 February 2003. This was claimed to be the greatest protest ever in the UK and millions were also marching all around the world. It was a global claim against the invasion of Iraq. I was 23 and I was there together with my Erasmus friends from a variety of nationalities. It was a very special moment in my life kept in the memories of my diary…”

— Rosa Reboreda, Spain (Higher Education, United Kingdom, 2003)

11. Erasmus is learning to ride a bike

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Personal archive of Claudia Fontana, 2008 © European Commission

“I’m an Erasmus teacher! I wrote my first Comenius in 2008. I was so scared about all the workload and responsibilities! After that first project I’ve organised many others. How many students have I involved since 2008? Let’s say, 1 class each year… it makes 20 classes of about 25 kids: roughly 500 students who had the chance to visit other students in Europe. I chose a shot from the first day at school in Breda (NL) when my kids got to school Dutch style! Some of them had just learnt to ride.”

— Claudia Fontana, Italy (School Education, Netherlands, 2008)

12. Once an Erasmus, always Erasmus

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Personal archive of Rebeca Giaietto, 2010 © European Commission

“It seems yesterday that I left the comfort zone and met new amazing friends with awesome different cultures. It has was the best year of my life! The ‘foreign concept’ disappears totally when you’re abroad. Everything has another point of view: you gain new friends, a new taste of music, you try different food, new challenges, you fall in love, and road trips in your free time are the best way to discover and explore. Things will never be the same,… “Once Erasmus, always Erasmus”.” #Memories

— Rebeca Giaietto, Italy (Higher Education, Germany, 2010)

What was your Erasmus like? Share with us!

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