This gap is being filled in Europe though, with the international erasmus student network (ESN), which has turned student exchange into a widespread norm all over Europe. ESN currently tends to 150, 000 students across 34 European countries. Since its second year of existence it has enjoyed an average annual growth rate of 12.3%. Founded four years after the Schengen agreement in 1985, ESN has become the easiest way for young Europeans to spend time abroad. German-Dutch history PhD student Tobias Temming studied in Amsterdam and Granada. ‘I could have chosen to finish my studies at 25 and then work,’ explains Tobias. ‘I don’t know what better investment you could do with your life than learning another language and living for a year in a foreign country.’ With nationalists turning to the ‘protection of Europe’ rather than the ‘protection of the homeland’, it is fair to say that the erasmus generation is the face of future Europe. ‘Precisely because the world is their oyster, they feel a stronger sense of attachment to Europe than they might have had had they not left Europe,’ explains Till van Rahden, Canada research chair in German and European studies at the university of Montreal. ‘Bracketing all the internal European differences, one doesn’t quite realise what’s specific and unique about Europe across national boundaries and as a political project, until one has lived outside of Europe.’ As for Tobias, the investment grew – the second erasmus turned into an internship at the German embassy in Lima, where he met his Peruvian wife. As he puts it, the mentality differences between them are not strictly ‘German’ and ‘Peruvian’ – rather ‘European’ and ‘Latin’.
Self-identification, multiculturalism and erasmus in the EUIn English on 2011/04/26 at 17:11