FINALLY, I can say it without any superstition-related hesitations: I’m going on Erasmus next year. To be more specific, in August I will leave my beloved Venice to move to Amsterdam, where I will be an exchange student in the Humanities department.
But, first, the Erasmus programme: what is it? Namely: European Region Action Scheme for the Mobility of University Students. In other words, Erasmus is a European exchange programme which allows university students to spend a semester or two in a partner university without paying additional fees.
How can you apply? Well, it depends on your home university requirements and designated process, therefore have a look at its website, in particular at the international section or, if present, the Erasmus out page. What is almost certain is that you’ll need to write a motivation letter, explaining why you want to be an exchange student and why you should be chosen over the other applicants. Since I’ve been through the whole writing process with its anxiety and uncertainty, here’s a few tips which will help you write a great letter.
My first advice would be to gather as much information as possible in order to mention a few aspects which made you choose to apply for the exchange programme in that specific destination and university. Have a look at study plans, university activities and student societies or organisations you’d like to join. For instance, when I applied for the UVA, I spent hours on their website looking for information. After all, it is also useful for you, since you might actually go there. Name a few courses you might be interested in and why, how relevant they are to your interests and study plan. Moreover, I’d also mention if you’d like to partecipate to any of the activities organised by the university: for instance, I wrote about CREA and its courses, which I actually intend to take. Look for reasons why that particular city appeals to you or would improve your curriculum for a future career.
Ask for advice
Don’t just rely on the internet, your university instructions or your instinct. Ask questions, advice to other people, especially to your university colleagues who actually got the place. Look for the results of the previous year and contact the winners, ask them tips or, if they are so kind to do so, to send you their own motivation letter as a sample. I for one was so lucky that my friend Chiara sent me hers and I will be forever grateful to her.
Make it well structured and correct in terms of grammar
Good presentation is pivotal. A well-written letter will show interest, care and will be much more convincing than an improvised or neglected one. Don’t forget that you’ll be representing your faculty abroad, therefore the examiners will choose those people who would do their best. Be concise, clear and correct: you don’t need to write like Shakespeare, but you need to be communicative and communicate effectively.
Be argumentative rather than emotional
Mention you’re fond of travel or the place itself, but don’t exaggerate with being emotional. The examiners are reading lots of applications and I bet you’re not the only one who loves travelling. Be concrete, find multiple reasons why you want to go. Language, personal experience, curriculum enrichment are just a few suggestions; find you own unique reasons to go and convince them to choose you.
This said, good luck!
If you have other tips or wanna know the exact questions I was asked in my application, comment below. 🙂