First day of the new school year starts tomorrow. In this post I will tell you exactly what I am doing with my life, and how on earth I got here. Hopefully you find it useful.
I am taking my Master’s Degree “European Joint Masters in Management and Engineering of Environment and Energy”. Quite a mouthful, I know. You can call it ME3 for short. This program is one of the masters and doctoral courses sponsored by the European Commission. They actually offer degrees across various disciplines. You can learn more about them here. Basically, each program is handled by a consortium of European universities. It is arranged such that students get their degree from at least two universities/cities. In my case, for example, all 25 students in my cohort spent our first semester in Universidad Politécnica de Madrid. In the second semester, we had the choice of attending Queens University in Belfast, or Écoles des Mines in Nantes. For the third semester, we can either stay in Nantes, or attend KTH in Stockholm or BME in Budapest. In our final semester, we do our thesis/internship anywhere in the world. This mobility obviously has PROs and CONs, but more on that later.
Erasmus Mundus offers programs, but also offers scholarships. If you are not awarded an Erasmus Mundus scholarship, you can still attend a program. However, you will be “self-funded”, meaning you have to get financing somewhere else and you need to pay slightly higher fees. I am a self-funded student, because I got my scholarship from the Global Sustainable Electricity Partnership (GSEP). I will talk about this more in a separate post.
To apply for an Erasmus Mundus program:
- Select a degree you want from their catalogue
- Go to the website of the course you want and apply directly from there. This is ME3’s website
- Requirements usually consist of the following:
- Professional and academic recommendation letters
- Proof of English proficiency (IELTS, TOEFL, or a certificate indicating that English is the medium of instruction in your university)
- Motivation Letter
- CV in Europass format
- Transcript of Records
- Erasmus Mundus Scholarship Application Form (This is an additional one page form that has to be submitted together with the rest of your application)
- Deadlines are usually December/early January for the Erasmus Mundus scholarship. If you want to apply for the program, but missed the scholarship deadline, you can still apply to ME3 until early March.
While waiting for the Erasmus Mundus results (which come out early March), it is best to apply for other scholarships, since the Erasmus Mundus scholarship slots are very limited. One of the advantages of coming from a third world country, working on a field related to development and sustainability, is that there are several scholarships available. Some of them are:
- GSEP Education for Sustainable Energy Development Scholarship Program (this is my scholarship)
- OPEC Fund for International Development
- Government embassies (French, Swedish)
- Global Study Awards
More scholarships are listed in websites such as Scholarship Portal .
Erasmus Mundus scholarships are the most ideal though, since it covers tuition fees, living expenses, and even provides a generous travel allowance, more than enough for living a comfortable student life in Europe.
So now, what are the PROs and CONs of taking an Erasmus Mundus Program?
An obvious advantage is that I was repeatedly pushed (or shoved) out of my comfort zone. Although the program is taught entirely in English, I needed to learn two new languages (Spanish and French) in order to thrive in my everyday life. Packing my bags after 6 months, finding an apartment, learning a new transportation system, needing to set-up a new bank account, choosing a mobile provider, figuring out how to live like a local – these were challenges that inevitably made me grow up. Actually living in a new country gave me new sensibilities which I wouldn’t have acquired by just visiting/traveling there.
An obvious disadvantage is that I was repeatedly pushed (or shoved) out of my comfort zone. Leaving behind friends, and basically starting a new life can also be exhausting. Academically, the caliber of participating universities also varies. Research about them beforehand so you can decide on the right track. When choosing a program, make sure the syllabus is very clear to you. The topics should really be of interest to you, and they should be useful to what you want to achieve in your life later on.
If you want to take an Erasmus Mundus program just because you want to travel around Europe, I would say – don’t. Europe is well-connected so you can travel anywhere, even if you just stay in one country (except UK). It will be better to find a well-reputed university that offers exactly the study track you want, and then pursue that.
- Erasmus Mundus is a good opportunity
- Get a scholarship
- Be sure of what you want to get from it ♦
Photo credit to: Luis Felipe Lopez