People, places and poems

Since the beginning of the programme in 2014, Erasmus+ has provided life-changing opportunities for people across the UK. 

Inspired by entrants into the People of Erasmus+ competition, we delve a little deeper into their stories, looking at the impact on the people involved in the projects and the experiences behind the statistics. 

A thrilling experience

People of all ages and walks of life can benefit from taking part in an Erasmus+ project, just as Katie Anderson, a Year 11 pupil fromErasmus+ 2020 competition winner Katie Anderson during her exchange to Germany Meadowhead School Academy Trust did. 

For Katie, her Erasmus+ experience was an opportunity she will never forget and something that believes will give her access to more opportunities in the future. Visiting Germany on an exchange, she learnt about the local history and saw how home and school life differs from her own. She said “It was thrilling to experience life in a different country. We got to visit a castle to learn about the history and to experience the atmosphere of their towns. I have obtained valuable skills, including independence and collaboration.” 

Inspiring the next generation

Many participants like Katie have project coordinators to thank for their experience. Their hard work and enthusiasm help learners to benefit from life-changing, international opportunities. 

Quite a few coordinators understand these benefits through the impact of their own personal experience of the Erasmus+ programme, like Jo Silverwood, Community Liaison and Communications Manager at Meadowhead School, who was an Erasmus student in 1995-6. 

Competition winner Jo Silverwood during an Erasmus+ project

Her competition caption focused on how fulfilling it is to provide others with similar opportunities: “I never imagined that I would be encouraging future generations of school students to step into the wonderful world of Erasmus+, and open their eyes to the same life-changing adventures that my own Erasmus+ journey afforded me.” 

Thanks to Erasmus+, Jo has enabled 40 staff and over 80 students to make new friends, learn new skills and knowledge, improve their cultural capital, and experience life and education in other countries: “Some staff secured promotions or changed career direction, some students went to university and took a year abroad, some went to work abroad. For students who had never ventured overseas before, a desire to travel and try new things was ignited.”

Changing perspectives and supporting careers

Lesley Balharry at the University of Edinburgh has helped more than 500 members of staff to participate in Erasmus+. 

It was motivating to share experiences and good practice with colleagues from many European countries and it changed the way I viewed my job.

Lesley had the chance to experience the impact of Erasmus+ first-hand, by taking part in a staff training week in Aix-en-Provence in 2009. It was here that she was able to network with like-minded colleagues; sharing knowledge and insights in a way that would go on to support the work she does at the university.

She reflected on her own experience: “Looking back, I was struck by the benefits of meeting colleagues face-to-face, getting to know the place our students were going to and the challenges they might face. It was motivating to share experiences and good practice with colleagues from many European countries and it changed the way I viewed my job.” 

Professional development

Ben Ozanne’s Erasmus+ experience saw him attend a course in Sweden called ‘Nature as a fantastic classroom for learning’. During the course, Ben was able to learn about outdoor pedagogy, experienced-based learning and presenting subjects as a story as ways to improve his teaching and engage his pupils. 

Ben described the course as “the best bit of continuous professional development” he has attended, adding: “I was able to learn about outdoor pedagogy in a cross-cultural perspective and share experience and knowledge with others. I have made connections and friendships from many different countries and have gained experiences and learning that will stay with me for a lifetime.”

Poetry in motion

Danielle Carey’s placement in Finland, a country which she now describes as “home”, pushed her to have experience she never thought she would have and enabled her to explore different countries and new cultures. She was so was inspired by her Erasmus+ experience that she even wrote a short poem about it!

Singing Erasmus+ praisesErasmus+ 2020 competition entrant Emily Rooke during her Erasmus+ placement

Emily Rooke was in her element during her Erasmus+ placement, where she studied Voice and Italian Opera at the Conservatorio di Musica 'Luigi Cherubini' in Florence during the summer of 2019. 

On top of joining an opera company and regularly performing in operas and concerts, there are many other things she has to thank the programme for, including language learning and new friendships: “My Italian improved immensely, and I had the chance to work with such amazing people who are now friends for life. I wouldn't have been able to do this without Erasmus+. It's furthered my career in ways I couldn't even imagine. Grazie mille!”

Pushing boundaries

In 2017, Leanne McFarlane spent three months on an Erasmus+ nursing placement in a hospital and health centre in Cordoba, Spain. Not only did the training provide her with invaluable experience, but it introduced her to new perspectives and ways of working.

Leanne said: “It was a challenge, but certainly the most rewarding and enjoyable part of my entire nursing programme. It helped me to gain a new perspective on best working practices, reflect on my training, make international friends, push my boundaries, represent UK nursing abroad and to better understand and empathise with my international colleagues and patients and the difficulties they may face trying to navigate a healthcare system when far away from home.”

I have been really inspired to pursue a career in documentary filmmaking as a result, something I had never once considered.

Chloe Granger was pushed out of her comfort zone during her Erasmus+ internship at Louis Vuitton in Paris. She described it as the most insightful, informative and glamorous experience of her life, as well as broadening her perspectives and increasing her knowledge of the industry: “My confidence, both in myself and my French language skills, has sky-rocketed and this internship has confirmed the pathway I want to take in my future career. I have learnt a great deal about my perseverance and personal goals and this experience has left me feeling inspired, creative and motivated!”

Erasmus+ 2020 competition entrant Chloe Granger during her internship with Louis Vuitton

Shaping futures

The impact of an Erasmus+ project doesn’t stop when participants return home. For Jennie Robson, her experience as an intern at the International Human Rights Film Festival 'This Human World' in Vienna, inspired her decision to pursue filmmaking as a career. 

Jennie said: “I have been really inspired to pursue a career in documentary filmmaking as a result, something I had never once considered while studying Psychology at the University of Edinburgh! My internship was the perfect stepping stone into the working world as a new graduate and it has unquestionably shaped the trajectory of the rest of my life!”

Has the Erasmus+ programme had a personal impact on you? Whether you’re a participant or organisation, fill out a case study form and your story could be featured on our website.