It’s me again, Marianne. I am the summer intern at the Russian Language Academy Durbe in Riga, Latvia. I am French but I study in the UK and I just spent one year in Granada, Spain. I am conscious that traveling for your studies or to do an internship might seem complicated and costly. So here are my tips on how to obtain funding for your studies/internship abroad!
You probably heard about Erasmus+, the EU’s programme to support education and training in Europe. But you might not know that:
— the Erasmus programme is not restricted to those who study abroad. Is also provides financial support for internships and volunteering.
— it is not restricted to university students: many individuals and organisations can benefit from the programme (the eligibility criteria vary from one country to another). Russian language teachers from the Czech Republic, for instance, received funding from Erasmus+ to take part in the Russian teachers’ development course at RLA Durbe.
— it is not restricted to countries within the EU: the programme also runs in partner countries such as Norway, Iceland, the Balkans, Ukraine, Belarus, Russia… (subject to specific conditions).
— if you apply to a university in a country that on average has fewer demands, the total amount of the grant might be higher.
The Erasmus grant is not enough for you to live on, but it is a significant amount of money that can, for instance, cover accommodation costs or food shopping.
Thanks to the Erasmus+ programme, I spent 10 months (one academic year) in the University of Granada, Spain, where I studied Spanish philology, Russian studies, philosophy and social and political sciences.
The University of Latvia and Riga Technical University are members of the programme! You can perfectly combine an exchange programme with our evening classes at the Russian Language Academy Durbe or work as an intern for the Academy within the Erasmus+ programme.
To find out more about the Erasmus+ programme: http://ec.europa.eu/programmes/erasmus-plus/about_en
Ask your host university or the company you want to work for
Your host university might offer financial support to exchange students because it is in their interest to be attractive to students. For instance, if are from outside the EU, have a look at the University of Latvia’s bilateral cooperation agreements. The university offers monthly scholarships to students who are studying within these agreements.
Always check the conditions of an internship. Are you going to gain valuable experience? Is it boosting your CV?
Even if it is not paid, it is always worth asking whether they cover travel expense or if they provide lunch or accommodation at a reduced price.
Inquire about language scholarships in your home country
A number of organisations offer scholarships to go abroad to study a foreign language. For example, Belgian students can apply for the Bourse Tremplin Langue du BIJ or for the Bourse Bel’J. If you’re from the US and you wish to study Russian in Latvia, you can apply for scholarships delivered by The Critical Language Scholarships, NSLI-Y. What is more, a growing number of students at the RLA Durbe have been granted funding by the Boren Awards for undertaking long-term Russian language courses. We draw your attention to the fact that a number of students at the RLA Durbe hailing from Germany received funding from the Bildungsurlaub.
Ask your home university
You might be unaware that your university offers grants for summer internships or summer schools. Have a look at your university’s website and you might be surprised. Sometimes, prestigious alumni or the dean of your faculty may also offer funding for individual projects. You will likely be required to explain your project in details and produce a report. When presenting your project, prepare solid arguments and explain to what extent it is related to your studies or career prospect and what you can expect from this experience. It should appear as a logical step in your study or career path.
I was lucky and prepared enough to receive funding from my home institution, UCL (University College London), in order to undertake this internship at the Russian Language Academy Durbe!
If you decide to move abroad for good
This is it! You are accepting a university’s offer. First, check the cost of living in your institution’s area and start budgeting. Find out about the country’s policies on student finance: even if you are not a national, you might be eligible for student loans and income-based maintenance grants. Compare accommodation prices in residences and on the private market. Is it more advantageous for saving money or transport or on rent? Think about your priorities. Are you study-focused? Do you want to work part-time? How many contact hours do you have per week?
I hope this helps and that you can learn from my experience. Traveling is the best thing that happened to me; fight for it, you can do it!