My name is Aidana Ermatova and I am currently enrolled in the Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degree Program in Agricultural, Food, and Environmental Policy Analysis (AFEPA). I have not found a more ideal program to continue my studies because it is a combination of the two areas in which I received my bachelor’s degree – Economics and Environmental Management and Sustainable Development.

The Erasmus Mundus program is an amalgamation of several universities from around the world, which increases the quality of the programs because each university specializes in the subjects they are best at. There are 4 major universities in my program and each has a slightly different focus, but still, most of the focus is on the main subject of the program.

My first semester started in Belgium, Catholic University of Louvain and I will be studying here for a year. The education system and methodology are very different from AUCA. Belgian education or master’s level, or maybe all together. But the subjects are very interesting and each professor has researched in different countries and on different topics. Most of them publish in cool journals and know directly many popular publicists and even Nobel Prize winners and laureates. They also analyze the programs offered by the state. And they share this experience with students. But also the students of the program are not simple and are from different countries. And thanks to the students we learn not only the theory but the real situation of different countries firsthand. One semester and already I get so much knowledge.
There’s a lot to learn, but that doesn’t stop you from traveling and exploring the outside world. Belgium is a small country, plus convenient and fast transport and you can two or two and a half hours be in any of its cities and even in Paris, Amsterdam, Luxembourg, and many other places. The university is huge and there are students from all over the world. And once you make friends with a lot of them, you can learn about and virtually travel to almost every country.

According to the rules of some programs, all first-year students study together and spend a semester at almost every partner university. But in my program everyone is divided into 4 groups and sent to different universities and we study together with the sophomores. Every summer they have a summer school, for which one university is responsible and all the coordinators and students end up in one place. This methodology allows you to expand your circle of friends and become closer to everyone.

It is not yet known at which university I will continue my studies next year, but it will be one of the three major partner universities in Germany, Sweden or Italy. It’s also possible to end up in Spain, Chile or Nairobi through this program. But wherever I end up, it will be a great experience.

Don’t be afraid to try, be afraid not to try. Erasmus Mundus offers hundreds of programs and everyone will find something to their liking. Live in a European country, study at the best universities, meet a huge number of new friends, make dreams come true. What is it worth? To write a few essays, ask two people to write a recommendation letter, fill out an application, have proof of your English and that’s it! Good luck to everyone!

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