The life at a foreign university ‘Thanks to Erasmus Mundus and my study of rural development at several universities across Europe’

I study cities, villages and everything between. I am currently pursuing an advanced master’s degree in rural development under The Erasmus Mundus programme. In accordance with the programme students will earn the joint degree of six universities – Ghent University, Belgium; L’Institut Agro (National Higher School of Agronomic and Agrifood Landscaping and Horticultural Sciences), France; Humboldt University of Berlin, Germany; University of Cordoba, Spain; University of Pisa, Italy and Slovak University of Agriculture, Nitra.

Students must select at least three universities and up to six universities that they can study at. However, it is difficult to handle the six universities in a two year course, and the majority of students choose four. The time I’m in is the final stage of my master’s degree and I am enrolled at the L’Institut Agro Rennes-Angers. I arrived in France at the end of August in 2023. I will complete my master’s graduation in July 2024.

I started my studies at Ghent University in Belgium where I was studying between September 2022 to June 2023. I then studied studying at Slovenska pol’nohospodarska univerzita v Nitre (Slovak University of Agriculture, Nitra) between June until July 2023, followed by my current university in France. I also went to Poland in the span of 15 days to complete one course.

I am from Uttarakhand and have completed my degree in the year 2015 from GB Pant University. I pursued a BSc Agricultural Sciences from 2015 until 2019. Then, I completed the MA in the field of Development, Policy and Practice from Rajiv Gandhi National Institute Youth Development, Chennai (October 2020 to July 2022). My focus was on human rights. I even received an award of scholarship.

Erasmus Mundus programme

After I completed my master’s degree in India I was seeking to pursue an PhD from a different country and found the Erasmus Mundus programme. I decided to go for the program, not because it’s prestigious, but also because it’s advanced master’s. Applications for programs start at different times, therefore it is important to check on the website for official announcements.

In accordance with the regulations The rules state that you must submit your application for the programme and the scholarship in conjunction. If 50 applicants are chosen for the program the top 15 be awarded the award. To be eligible for this scholarship you have to provide your transcripts, a statement of intent, letter of recommendation, a CV professional or assignment essay describing the research topic you are researching and more, all in 2000 words.

There is a reason that Erasmus Mundus programme has nearly 17 specialisations in rural development. My area of expertise is in the field of society. Since I’ve always wanted to learn about local development in the region, I’m studying agrarian change, which examines the shifting relationships in the agricultural sector. It focuses on the supply and trade of resources and the ownership of land gender, power, and much more.

Europe is beautiful

In my spare time I like to travel. Because I hold the Schengen visa, I’ve been to countries which fall under the Schengen. While in Belgium I visited The Netherlands, Germany, and Luxembourg While in Slovakia I visited Austria, Hungary and the Czech Republic. As I’m currently living in France I’m planning to travel to Spain as well as Italy.

My experience living in the 4 cities was wonderful. Cities are all pedestrian-friendly, cluster-free maintained and easy to access. There are plenty of opportunities designed for young people to keep them busy including literary clubs, sports clubs, arts and culture clubs, drama clubs and more. There are markets that are open on weekends carnivals, carnivals, escape rooms challenges and more. Carnivals in this area are focused on eating, exchange of culture, and games.

In Europe I was able to meet a lot of individuals who have shared their experiences with me. It was extremely enriching. The city I truly enjoyed my time in was Warsaw. While I was for just 15 days, it was a fantastic experience. The majority of European market hours close around 6 pm, however there is a difference in Warsaw they are opened from 8 pm – 10 pm as it isn’t part of the umbrella of Eurozone.

One of the greatest aspect that is part of Erasmus Mundus programme is we were able to get student dormitories. There were various configurations in every country. In Ghent we shared an open kitchen that had an individual washroom and a separate room and in Poland the house was in a studio shared between two persons. In Slovakia there were separate rooms, but shared bathrooms. In France it’s an apartment with two rooms that are separate, shared bathrooms and a common area.

Similar to food, each place has its own unique configuration. In Ghent the past, we would cook dinner and breakfast and eat lunch at the cafeteria. In France food preparation is scheduled on Monday through Friday, while on weekends, we must cook.

Prior to my move to Europe I was a bit independent. In India at one moment I was totally immersed in one thing and when I was at work, it was just work and I had no time for anything else. In addition, there isn’t any concept of eight hours because most people need to spend more hours. In Europe there is a balance between work and life kept. People can enjoy their hobbies and have time for other activities as well.

Lessons from Europe

In this country, people must do everything on their own from household chores to daily tasks. Here, life is more structured. You must plan your schedule far in advance, be it in your professional or personal life. Things like outings with your friends or eating out must be planned ahead of time rather than impromptu. Europeans follow a set schedule and adhere to their calendars.

From a perspective of education, Europe is good and the tuition cost isn’t too expensive. It’s been an amazing learning experience. It is a great way to learn new things, meet new people and experience new things. But, you must prepare themselves for the journey because it’s not a cakewalk In this country, not everyone is fluent in English. The majority of countries are English languages-friendly because they recognize that you are travelers. However, if you intend to stay for a while and are not fluent in the local language, you must learn it learn to adapt to the way of life there and be a part of the local culture. It is essential to be open and willing to learn the way in which the system functions. There’s a lot of distinctiveness in every location.

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