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ERASMUS' LAST JOURNEY

""There are some people who live in a dream world,
and there are some who face reality;
and then there are those who turn one into the other."
(Thanks to Jennifer Parker per le correzioni di inglese)
December 2011

What is Erasmus?

Erasmus is a period, usually one or two semesters, of studying abroad with a little financial support. But as soon as you reach your new city, you discover that studying is not the most important part of the programme, as studying is not teaching you as much about life and people as hanging out with the other international students. Unfortunately, no one can be told in advance what Erasmus is, you have to see it for yourself as it is a very personal experience: some people were too drunk or stoned to remember it (sad but true!); some others felt homesick the whole time and were just longing to go back home; luckily enough a good number of the remaining students had a wonderful experience that completely changed their lives. Needless to say, I belong to this last, happy group.

Erasmus is learning to say "Cheers" and "Thanks" in Lithuanian.
Erasmus is trying to pronounce Polish.
Erasmus is Slovak people drinking Hungarian wine.
Erasmus is kissing lips that don't speak your language.
Erasmus is asking a hundred times:
"Where do you come from" and "What do you study?".
Erasmus is speaking your personal version of English without problems.
Erasmus is feeling powerful because with your friends you can talk to anybody.
Erasmus is exchanging specialities from your country after the Christmas break.
Erasmus is singing "Happy Birthday" in nearly any language.
Erasmus is helping incoming students in your city and watching them grow up.
Erasmus is meeting again and again, even ten years after it has ended.

Why is Erasmus useful to Europe and to national states?

Obviously enough because it really creates European Citizens, making them aware of differences and similarities existing among the member states. Yes, there are similarities between our countries and much more that you might think (just to mention the most important ones: we don't go around with guns, judges can't sentence to death, we learned that the State should be separated and above religions and so on)!

Erasmus' Last Journey - No single nation ever managed to impose its supremacy on the whole Europe for a long period of time.What remained was just sorrow, hatred and ruins. On the winning side as well as the losing one.(The city of Cologne after World War II)No single nation ever managed to impose its supremacy on the whole Europe for a long period of time.
What remained was just sorrow, hatred and ruins. On the winning side as well as the losing one.
(The city of Cologne after World War II)

The very fact that we are "neighbours" implies that in the last centuries we communicated and exchanged goods, arts, cultures and languages. "United in diversity" is the motto of European Union andthis explains pretty well that our strength comes from our manifoldness which should not be used to divide but to unite. And this is what Erasmus is made for: on the first day students are often complaining about nearly everything that is not as they are used to (food, furniture, organisation), but on the last they are sad they have to leave, having just realised that most of what we call Culture and perceive as "different" is just a matter of habit.

After acknowledging the news that the Erasmus Programme could be terminated due to a lack of funds in the near future, I decided to write this short article to give my personal interpretation of what Erasmus is and to explain why the deletion of such a programme would be a terrible damage to Europe, to the single European States, and even to all those people that don't give a damn about Europe and interculturality because their country is obviously the best (though I guess the latter will never come across this article). Feel free to comment, add your personal opinion and share this page!

Erasmus' Last Journey - This table shows, using the metaphor of sport, how little our single national states would count in a world divided among super-nations (though I admit that football would not be as much fun as it is now without the national teams!).This table shows, using the metaphor of sport, how little our single national states would count in a world divided among super-nations (though I admit that football would not be as much fun as it is now without the national teams!).

My country is the best, I speak only dialect and I hate to travel. Why should I care?

At least you did not suffer a terrible and useless death on battlefields while fighting for popes, bishops, kings and emperors as our ancestors did. Yet you can express your ideas by voting for some xenophobic, extreme-right party... On second thoughts, maybe it would really be better if you could just go and fight a war!

To conclude, I think we should really thank, in these difficult days for Europe, those far-sighted politicians that, on the ruins of WWII, set the basis for the European Union; and their followers that in the end of the 80s gave birth to the Erasmus Programme, which has been a clever means of integration and an unforgettable experience for many students. I personally hope your dream, my dream, our dream, won't die because of a mere monetary reason. We deserve more, we will get more.

Erasmus' Last Journey - Aborting the Erasmus Programme is like destroying the many bridges we built in the last decades (that's actually what Warsaw looked like after WWII, just to recall what racial hatred caused to our nicest cities)Aborting the Erasmus Programme is like destroying the many bridges we built in the last decades (that's actually what Warsaw looked like after WWII, just to recall what racial hatred caused to our nicest cities)

P.S. European Union has just won the Nobel Peace Prize and I think that was a very clever decision from the Nobel Committee and a well-earned prize. European Union certainly has many problems and defects but the only alternative to it is a state of never-ending war and fragile alliances. The Nobel Peace Prize reminds us that the road we took saved us from self-destruction and allowed us to recover in less than 40 years from World War II. The 1.4 million Dollars prize might not be much but could be used to support European integration even more, and the Erasmus programme is probably the most powerful way to achieve this target.