Hello everyone. In this post, I will share my Erasmus Experience During Corona Pandemic.
What is the Erasmus+ program?
Erasmus program is the student mobility program that allows university students in EU member states to study one or two semesters in another EU member states, Turkey or Switzerland. This is to encourage young students to go out of their comfort zone and experience new cultures and countries.
It’s my final year and I had planned to do my thesis as an Erasmus exchange student. Unfortunately, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, things are not as straight forward as before and nobody knows what will happen!
The Erasmus committee has decided that if all the classes are online then there will be no financial aid. Only if students physically go to the destination country, financial aid will be paid. This seems logical to me because the whole purpose of Erasmus is to encourage young students to experience new environments and countries. yet, a lot of them cannot do it without financial aid.
My Erasmus+ Program
My Thesis will hopefully be at the University of Darmstadt. Darmstadt is a city near Frankfurt. I have not been to Germany and I know there are many great companies there and, as people say, Germany is the paradise of mechanical engineering! One great thing about the University of Darmstadt that I noticed even before going there, is that it seems very organized. They have a very informative and well-structured website and they answer emails quickly. They also have a portal for available research projects in which students can just choose from and start working on them.
Due to uncertainties related to the Erasmus program, Some chose to postpone their Erasmus mobility to the second semester and It seems a good idea. I wanted to do it as soon as possible in order to avoid waste of time, however, it seems unavoidable.
It is extremely hard to get an appointment from the German embassy in Rome because of limitations due to the Corona pandemic. I hope I can get one in the next few days because otherwise, I will not be able to go to Germany at least for the winter semester 2020-2021.
(Update – 02/09/2020)
My documents are signed and almost everything is ready for me to go and start my semester as an Erasmus+ exchange student. However, I am stuck at the very final step which is getting German Visa! I have tried to get an appointment from the German embassy in Rome several times but the online booking system says there is no availability! I contacted the embassy via Email and they said due to COVID-19 their working times have been reduced and I need to check the website every day. That is what I am doing for almost 20 days now! I hope I can get an appointment.
(Update – 16/09/2020)
Hoooraaayyy, I got an appointment from the German Embassy in Rome! It was a big hassle! If you also need an appointment in super crowded times, you know that it is not an easy task due to some facts. First of all, although the German embassy answers all emails, they do not tell you any useful information. They imply that due to corona the working hours are limited and that new appointment time slots will be available on regular basis. So you check their website every day for more than a month, but You cannot spot a time! what the ***! Then you think, I will go there and ask what should I do, but when you go there, they do not even let you in! So how can you possibly get an appointment?! I will tell you in the next paragraph. This information is not given by the embassy or anything like that, these are just the way that I could get an appointment after almost 1 month of struggle and stress. I believe everybody should be provided with the information on how things happen so I will tell you all I know.
How to get an appointment from the German embassy in Rome during Corona Pandemic:
Firstly, the new appointments are being available at midnight every day at 12:00:00. The reason I put zeros there is because they are important. As of now (16/09/2020) all the slots are gone by 12:00:10! It means that you have less than 10 seconds to choose a time, fill the form and captcha, and then submit. Wait what?!! is it even possible?? a simple answer would be No and Yes.
If you try to fill the form one by one it will take around 30-50 seconds and then, when you submit the form it will tell you that the slot is not available. So here is a way to fill the form in less than a second!
1. Search and install Autofill extension for google chrome.
2. Familiarize yourself with the extension by reading its help.
3. Now you need to save the form. go to the appointments website at exactly 12:00:00. Choose a time slot and wait.
4. Fill the form but not Captcha validation. DO NOT SUBMIT the form.
5. From the upper window click on generate autofill rules. Assign a Key combination the Autofill to execute it quickly. like (CTRL+Space)
6. Now your Autofill is ready! Come back the next day at the same time, quickly choose a time slot, press the key combination. Your form should be filled now.
7. Carefully and quickly write the Captcha validation and press enter.
That’s it! If you don’t make a mistake with captcha, you will get an appointment. Hopefully, there will be more than enough time slots so that people would not need such a long and stressful procedure.
(Update – 19/09/2020)
In Germany, every person needs to have health insurance. This applies to Erasmus+ students as well as workers and basically everyone. The price of insurance varies greatly. It ranges from 30 to more than 200 euros per month. Luckily I found an insurance company called Mawista, which I find very convenient. I registered with their website and opted for their student plus tier which costs about 40 euros per month. Then after submitting the form, a message popped saying that they will process and send me the insurance in a week. Since I needed it sooner, I wrote an email to them and they sent me the documents in only 1 day. The support was great so I recommend this company.
I will update this post about my Erasmus+ experience as time passes by.