Covid-19: To do or not Erasmus in the middle of a pandemic, that is the question – Last Minute

In the middle of the covid-19 pandemic, many university students face the dilemma between whether to do Erasmus or not, and if many have given up on the experience, others have packed their bags to spend a semester away.

Amândia Queirós / Cofina Media

In the first semester of this academic year, there were less than 5,000 Portuguese students studying at foreign universities under the Erasmus + program, equivalent to a drop of 68%.

Between the first and second semesters, only 2,200 university students spent six months away despite the pandemic, according to the provisional data recorded by the institutions and sent to Lusa by the National Erasmus + Agency.

Bianca Tavares does not belong to this group. The pharmacy student was even registered to go to the Faculty of Lyon, in France, but due to the worsening of the pandemic, the institution left her unanswered.

“But then I started to wonder if, in this situation and with everything that was going on, I really should go,” he told Lusa, admitting that if he had received the green light from the French college, he probably would have ended up giving up on the experience.

On the other side of the dilemma, Rita Pequito, already doing a master’s degree, did not let the pandemic rob him of the opportunity to study for a semester at a foreign university and in October he packed his bags and headed for Halle, Germany.

“If it wasn’t now, I don’t think I would have another opportunity to do so, so I decided to take the risk,” said the Communication Design student, stressing that it never crossed her mind to give up.

In the middle of the covid-19 pandemic, Rita understood that the Erasmus experience that awaited her would not be like that of thousands of students who took the program in previous years. And it wasn’t.

In the first month, the Portuguese student managed to “make a relatively normal life”: She traveled within Germany, met other cities and people, and although the college adopted distance learning shortly after the beginning of the semester, she was still able to go to library and face-to-face practical classes.

“However, at the end of November the pandemic started to get worse. The restoration, the culture and most of the public spaces all started to close and, therefore, I decided to return to Portugal on December 10,” he recalled.

The semester only ended this month, but the epidemiological situation continued to worsen, so Rita has not returned to Halle and finished Erasmus at home.

Joana Azeiteiro was also not afraid of the pandemic, but the covid-19 got in the way between the student and International Economics and European Studies and a first semester in Warsaw, Poland.

When the college she was going to announced that the classes would be all ‘online’, Joana knew that, therefore, she would no longer be entitled to the scholarship and the only thing that supported her disgust was the fact that she had already done Erasmus during her degree.

In addition to mobility for learning purposes, Erasmus + also has an internship program for students, and it was in this context that Luana Millecamps went to the Greek island of Lipsi, to work at Archipelagos – Marine Conservation Institute.

For about four months, the student of Environmental Biology “fled” from the pandemic in Portugal and took refuge on an island where there were no cases of SARS-Cov-2 infection.

“Between September and November everything was very similar to normal life. The locals were also very carefree because there were no cases,” he says, recalling that it was only from December, when Greece decreed confinement measures for the whole country, that he felt more restrictions.

“Even so, it was not much different than it would have been without the pandemic, I was very lucky,” he stressed, explaining that, despite the confinement, the only activities he was unable to do were boat trips.

Source: SÁBADO by

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