Being European has always been a part of who I am and the older I get the more grateful I become for being a part of it. Living in Ireland I feel like it’s more difficult to engage in the European Union as we are an island. It’s easy to focus on what’s going on in our own countries but I think being part of so many others is something much more special and brings endless opportunities.
Travelling around Europe
Being in the European Union means we can travel freely between European countries without a visa. Going on holidays has never been easier or cheaper for young adults. Last year I went to Prague for a weekend and it cost less than €200. Interrailing is a fantastic initiative where you can travel through Europe using the trains. Myself and a few friends had this opportunity after 6th year and it was one of the best experiences I’ve had. It makes you more independent and opens your eyes to different cultures.
Studying in Europe
Erasmus is also an amazing opportunity for anyone under the age of 30. Most third level students can choose to take a year out to go to another European country and continue their studies. This allows people to make new friends, explore new places and tell stories about it all when they go back to their countries. You can also take advantage of learning a new language in the place it’s spoken, surrounding yourself with locals makes it easier to learn. However Erasmus projects aren’t limited to that one year in university. There are hundreds of projects run throughout the year in all European countries. These can be from a weekend to year long projects funded by Erasmus+ and can range from various activities such as drama, climate action, mental health, youth work, sports and refugee support.
When I get to go to international events around Europe, I don’t feel like a foreigner, I feel at home. Meeting people with similar interests from different cultures and backgrounds is life changing. When everyone comes from a different country what brings us together is Europe. It’s a time where we can truly focus on sharing stories and learning about each other, making memories and friends for life. I’ve experienced this through model European Union’s where we can talk about our passions. There are endless amounts of opportunities to suit anyone’s interests.
What Europe really means to me is people coming together in solidarity. We can achieve great things together by listening to each other and understanding different ways people do things. For example at the Climate summit in Romania we discussed energy strategies I wouldn’t have even considered if I hadn’t opened my mind to what others are doing. When I finish my degree I hope to live in different European cities to experience how different people live and discover new ways we can work together.
I want other people to fall in love with Europe as I have. If you have the chance to travel, take it. If you see an application for an Erasmus project, you should apply if you can. If you want to learn a new language, go to where it is spoken. You never know the memories you will make or the opportunities that will follow you after.