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Are you applying for Erasmus in Sweden? Here are ten crucial things to know

For students hoping to do an overseas internship or university exchange, the Erasmus scheme is one of the biggest and best-known programmes. Nele Schröder shares her advice of ten things to think about if you're a student applying for Erasmus, and the things she wishes she'd known before.

Are you applying for Erasmus in Sweden? Here are ten crucial things to know
Students cycle outside Uppsala's historic university. Photo: Cecilia Larsson Lantz/

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What exactly is Erasmus?

Erasmus is a student exchange programme first established in 1987. The name has two meanings: it honours the Renaissance humanist Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam but also stands for EuRopean Community Action Scheme for the Mobility of University Students (what a mouthful.)

Since 2014 and up until 2020, the university exchange programme is combined under the Erasmus+ umbrella, along with all the EU's current schemes for education, training, youth and sport. But what can it actually do for you? Well, the scheme provides financial support for students, apprentices, teachers and many more if they want to go abroad to study or to do an intern-/traineeship, by offering a grant, and courses taken while abroad will count towards your degree at home.

It is open to members of programme countries and partner countries, with the latter able to take part only in certain parts of the scheme. Find more information about eligible countries here.

What are the requirements?

If you're a student hoping to do a semester abroad, you have to have a valid enrollment certificate from your home university (note that not all EU universities are part of the scheme) and be in at least your fourth bachelor semester.

The length of your stay must be at least three months, and up to 240 days. You also need to know the language the lectures will be in — in many locations, there are English-language options.

As a student applying for an intern- or traineeship, there must be a close connection to your field of study. One of your teachers must offer professional supervision and it must last between two and 12 months. If you are already a graduate, you must have handed in your Erasmus application during your last year of study, but also must have graduated by the time the internship starts. Find more information here.

Do your research

When you're choosing a host country, ask yourself: Why do you want to go there? Which company do you want to go to and why? What is special about the country that you wouldn't find anywhere else? How is the housing situation? How is the public transport? Have you ever been there or do you know somebody who can help you to get around in the country?

Check the facts and then decide on a country or a company. Save the links you used! They might come in handy later. And when you are sure of where to go, consider attending a language course. It looks good on the application and will be good preparation for the experience.

How do I apply?

You initially need to fill out two forms: The Learning Agreement between you, your university and your place of the internship and the actual application. Those are usually available on your university's website. The application is similar to writing a cover letter for an internship or a personal statement for university applications — you'll find questions like “Please state your motivation” or “In which ways have you prepared yourself for the trip, culturally?” The key thing is to ensure you sound really motivated.

All the documents

The application consists of several documents. Extending your health insurance to the country of your destination is a requirement. You also need your enrollment certificate (if you're a student) or your de-registration certificate (if you're a graduate).

The application form has about six pages, the Learning Agreement about ten. If you have had an Erasmus scholarship before, you need to attach a certificate. All in all, there's a lot of paper involved. Get a binder for the documents, make a list of what you need and cross out the things you already have.

Bureaucracy is tricky – don't let it crush you

When I applied for Erasmus, the unthinkable happened: I printed out the Learning Agreement on two different kinds of paper. When I tried handing in my application, the employees at the international office from my university kindly, but firmly, told me that the form would not get accepted like that. So remember: Read the instructions carefully and follow them closely.

Stay calm!

When all of the forms and the attachments threaten to drown you and you feel like you'll never make it, lay down the papers and take a break. Usually the people from your university genuinely want to help you. Take some deep breaths, have a sip of water, maybe go for a walk. Don't think about the application for some time – maybe an hour or two, or even for the rest of the day. If you started the application process early enough, you will have this time to relax.

Start your application early

That brings us to this key point. Erasmus is a process that needs time. You might mess things up by choosing the wrong paper (like I did), you might have to get the same signature multiple times because you missed one small, but important, cross on the form or you might realisze that the university's office is closed when you thought it would be open – all of this can happen. So if you start early enough, you can face these things without getting stressed out because you might miss the deadline.

Know your deadline!

One of the good things about the application for Erasmus is the flexible deadline. It adapts to the start of your internship or university course; you'll have to enter the final application two months before it starts. Of course, you can enter it earlier if you prefer, and that might be a good idea — if the university staff find a mistake or something else that might endanger your scholarship, they will most likely come back to you and tell you what to change.

Prepare to wait… a lot

After you handed in your application, prepare for a lot of different waiting periods. There is the wait for your university's international office to tell you if your application is correct. If everything is fine, they will send it to someone who is responsible for providing the final signature. And those people will read the application thoroughly. It can take up to four weeks to get an answer. So prepare yourself for the wait. The good thing: If the forms are right, chances are high that you'll get the scholarship.


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