Attending an Erasmus+ Youth Exchange or Training Course could be a life changing experience. Here’s why you should do it.

Erasmus+ Youth Exchanges and Training Courses offer young people a unique opportunity to engage in non-formal and informal learning, experience new cultures, and enhance personal and professional development. These programs, funded by the European Union, are organized by various organizations and facilitated by experienced trainers, making them accessible and enriching experiences.

What are Youth Exchanges and Training Courses?

Erasmus+ Youth Exchanges (YE) and Training Courses (TC) are distinct, yet very interrelated programs. Youth Exchanges allow young people aged 13 – 30 from different countries to live together for around 7 – 12 days, engaging in a variety of activities around a common theme. These exchanges focus on informal learning with activities like workshops, discussions, games and role-plays.

On the other hand, Training Courses are more geared towards youth workers, teachers, and activists, deeply focusing on specific topics such as democracy, entrepreneurship, ecology, mental health and so on… These courses provide an environment for learning, doing, and sharing, enhancing personal and most importantly professional skills.

Who can participate in YEs and TCs?

Erasmus+ projects are open to nearly everyone. Whether you are a student, a young professional, a volunteer, or simply someone interested in learning and cultural exchange, these programs are designed for you. The beauty of Erasmus+ lies in its inclusivity – everyone is welcome, regardless of their background or level of experience, because everyone can offer their view on world.

For those who are new to such international projects, cultures, or travelling in general, Erasmus+ is an excellent starting point. The programs are tailored to accommodate and support first-time participants, ensuring a welcoming and nurturing environment. It’s important for potential participants to choose projects that align with their interests and goals. With a diverse range of topics and formats, and from formal TCs to more relaxed YEs – there’s something for everyone.

Participants don’t even need to worry about the language barrier. While some level of English is required for smooth communication, only a small number of participants are native English speakers. Even better, speaking with people from different backgrounds will improve their own language skills. Plus, they’ll learn many new words and phrases from various languages!

Participation in these projects is not just about what you can learn, but also about the unique perspectives and experiences you can bring to the table. Erasmus+ projects thrive on the diversity of their participants, making them rich learning environments where everyone’s contribution is valued. So, regardless of whether it’s your first time or if you’re a seasoned participant, Erasmus+ always has a warm place for you.

Our participants with the friends they made on a project in Romania, photo taken during a day trip to Brașov

Overview of an Erasmus+ project

The structure of an Erasmus+ project, whether it’s a Youth Exchange or a Training Course, typically follows a comprehensive itinerary designed to maximize participants’ experiences.

Day 1: Arrival and Ice-Breakers: The first day is usually set aside for arrivals. Participants from various countries come to the project location. This day is light on formal activities, focusing more on welcoming participants and helping them settle in. Ice-breaker activities are common in the evening, aiming to introduce participants to each other and create a comfortable, friendly atmosphere.

Day 2: Getting to Know Each Other and Erasmus+: Following the arrival day, the initial phase of the project often involves activities that facilitate deeper interactions among participants. They learn about themselves via ice-breaking and name-learning games. Participants learn about their backgrounds, hobbies, and much more. Participants are usually briefed on the goals, structure, and expectations of the project.

Next days: Exploring the Core Topic: The heart of the project involves diving into the main project theme. Through a mix of workshops, discussions, games, and interactive sessions, participants engage deeply with the subject matter. These activities are designed using non-formal education methods, encouraging active participation and hands-on learning.

Next days: Cultural and Recreational Activities: Erasmus+ projects often include excursions or cultural activities. This might be a day trip to nearby mountains, a city tour with a treasure hunt, or cultural nights where participants share aspects of their own cultures, such as their folk songs, tongue-twisters or traditional dances. These activities not only provide a break from the more structured learning sessions but also let participants learn about other cultures.

Next days: Project Work and Practical Application: Participants often work on group projects or engage in activities that apply their learning in practical contexts. This could involve collaborative tasks, local NGO visits, community service projects, or creating plans for long-term projects and other Erasmus+ YE or TC implementations.

Next days: Dissemination and Final Tasks: Towards the end of the project, participants share how they can disseminate what they’ve learned and apply it in their communities. This might involve planning follow-up activities, developing outreach materials, or preparing presentations which will promote the outcomes of the project.

Final Day: Departure and Reflection: The final day is typically reserved for departures. It’s a time for reflection, sharing final thoughts, and saying goodbyes to other people. Participants often leave with not just new knowledge and skills but also lasting friendships and a network of contacts across the continent.

Throughout the project, there’s an emphasis on learning through experience as well as cultural exchange, and personal development. The schedule is designed to be engaging and varied, ensuring that participants have a well-rounded and memorable experience and everyone finds what they are looking for.

Slovak evening during a project in Greece – our participants taught their friends Slovak songs and dances and prepared some Slovak snacks such as Horalky and Chrumky for them

But… why should I participate?

Participating in Erasmus+ projects can offer you a lot of benefits which will continue beyond the project itself.

  1. You learn A LOT of new things – You will gain valuable knowledge and skills related to the theme of the project. For instance, a project on social entrepreneurship would equip you with knowledge about starting and managing social ventures, developing business plans, and understanding its social impact. There are projects about digital topics, human mind and body, inclusion, politics, art… you can choose pretty much anything you can imagine!
  2. You can “exchange your culture” – Erasmus+ projects bring together people from different countries, offering a unique opportunity for so called cultural exchange. You’ll learn about different cultures, languages, and perspectives, which broadens their worldview. This often leads to improved language skills (and you knowing a lot of new fun facts about the places you’ll visit).
  3. So many new people! – These projects provide an excellent platform for networking. You will meet peers, professionals, and activists from across Europe, which can lead to lasting friendships as well as professional connections.
  4. Personal growth & Confidence – Being in a new environment and facing various challenges will help you grow personally. You’ll become more independent, confident, and adaptable. Some activities will push you out of your comfort zone, such as public speaking, group leadership, or adapting to new environments.
  5. YOUTHPASS Certificate – At the end of the project, you’ll receive a YOUTHPASS certificate, which is a recognition of the non-formal learning and skills you will have acquired. This certificate is a valuable addition to one’s professional portfolio, as it highlights the competencies developed during the project and is widely recognized by top companies across Europe.
  6. Contribution to Society – Many Erasmus+ projects focus on societal issues and working with people with less opportunities. During your stay, you will help to create a better place by offering your time and knowledge to tackle these issues. People often leave projects with a better sense of social responsibility and more motivated to engage in civic activities, volunteer work, or social entrepreneurship.
Posters created by the participants on one of our projects “Don’t hate – Tolerate”

We are waiting for you!

Erasmus+ Youth Exchanges and Training Courses are more than just educational programs: they are opportunities for young people to grow, explore, and connect on a European scale.

If you’d like to see what projects are we and other organizations in Slovakia working on right now, check out our Facebook group Youth Projects Slovakia and if you need even more info or just want to ask something, feel free to contact us here or here.

We are looking forward to get through our next adventure with you onboard!

Categorized in: