Imagine you go to Mars and you meet someone who is from Venus. As you get to know each other, it turns out you have a mutual friend from Jupiter, whom you met on Saturn. This has been my experience with the Erasmus+, Jean Monet and Young European Ambassadors (YEAs) initiative.
My name is Stepan Sargsyan, and I am a Young European Ambassador from Armenia. For the last two years, I have lived and studied in four European countries and travelled to 21 states. In a nutshell, for me these two years have been full of new people, numerous lifelong friendships, lots of fun, both formal and non-formal learning, travelling, diversity and amazing memories.
As I tend to share my adventures and best moments on social media, my friends often ask me how I manage to travel so much and take part in so many social activities. So, I have decided to share my experience with other young people who are eager to discover Europe.
Let me start from the beginning. Two years ago, I applied and got selected for an Erasmus+ youth exchange in Aghveran, Armenia. During my exchange, I learnt about the European youth programmes. These projects and initiatives offer a wide range of opportunities for young people with different interests – from the environment to sport and digital. Being strongly interested in youth empowerment and social initiatives, I applied and participated in several programmes. Each project deepened my knowledge on various topics and widened my social circles.
At one point, I learnt about the Jean Monet programme, which provides scholarships for higher education. I had always wanted to do a master’s degree in Europe, and thanks to this programme, I did my studies at the European Institute in France and the College of Europe in Belgium.
What’s interesting is that until a few years ago I never suspected that these opportunities even existed. And now I can say that I have met the presidents of the European Commission and the European Council and I have shared my views with them on various topics, such as youth policy and Eastern Partnership. All this has been possible because the EU gives young people like me the opportunity to get their voice heard.
Youth initiatives also allow you to share your country’s cultural heritage with the world. I have had the chance to tell people about Armenian history, traditions and cuisine, and many of them have expressed interest in visiting Armenia. Within the last two years, I have hosted tens of international friends, and in return I have someone to stay with in almost every European country.
I call my experience ‘the European dream’. The EU allows young people to learn, take part in initiatives, have an impact on society, travel, meet new people and make friends from every corner of Europe. Any young person who is looking for these opportunities can be in my place. It is a great time to discover Europe and find your own European dream.
Interested in having a similar experience? A quick search online may be enough to find an EU programme that matches your needs. I would also be happy to provide you with more information about the programmes and projects I took part in.