This post is an introduction to the fact that the EU provides schemes that allow free travel opportunities. People have often commented that I like my travel, and why not when there is a wonderful world to explore! But travel can be expensive and luckily for me I have been able to visit Malta, Sicily, and Romania, all courtesy of the European Unions’ funding opportunities that allow us to experience different cultures.
A chance look at a posting on Gumtree first introduced me to these schemes, and like many my first thought was this seems too good to be true. I had been looking at volunteering experiences for some time and actually couldn’t afford to volunteer! Many travel companies offer volunteering holidays but the costs can easily mount up, so to be able to travel completely for free AND receive an allowance really got me interested. This is me in Malta in March 2011, I spent a month there volunteering in a cat sanctuary on an EVS scheme.
As I said this post is an introduction to get you used to the idea as it is really quite shocking to get your head around, (in a good way). If you are aged 18-30 you should be especially excited as you can enjoy upto 12 months overseas travel through EVS, (European Voluntary Service). This may be an EU scheme but it doesn’t mean travel is restricted, there are a plethora of opportunities, a personal friend of mine spent 6 months in the Amazon rainforest.
For individuals of all ages there is the Grundtvig scheme which provides an opportunity for non-vocational adult education, normally in the form of workshops lasting one week. In July 2013 I attended a photography workshop in Romania through Grundtvig, I met fabulous people, ate lovely food, and experienced a culture that without the EU to be honest I don’t think I ever would. I’m grateful to have had such an amazing opportunity and this is one of the main reasons behind my blog, to be able to share with people this information. Here I am in Romania with the other workshop participants, its taken at the opening of our photography exhibition which the week worked towards.
The schemes can be quite complicated, or appear so at first. But you will generally be supported by a sending and/or hosting organisation so there is really nothing to worry about. There are other opportunities than just EVS and Grundtvig but I am going to examine everything in further detail for you in individual blog posts. If you can’t wait and want to start your investigations you will find EVS is part of the Youth In Action programme and Grundtvig part of the Life Long Learning Programme. However, just to confuse things a little more from 1st January 2014 the old schemes change slightly and merge together to become Erasmus+, the European Union’s budget for 2014-2020 confirmed the budget for this at just under €14.7 billion over seven years. They are committed to allowing freedom of learning and opportunities for all to experience different cultures, I still have to pinch myself sometimes, isn’t this amazing?!
I would love to know, have any How2bBornLuckiers already engaged in EU schemes?