Ana Garcia Martins – Portugal

Ana Garcia Martins – Portugal

Higher Education – Italy, 2002-03

‘For many young people, like myself, going on Erasmus meant leaving your home and family for the first time. It’s an incredible feeling of independence and liberation.’

For the writer of one of Portugal’s most popular blogs, Erasmus+ made her a ‘more complete’ person. To Ana, her time in Siena was one of the most important times in her life. A year later, she began the Vencedor Lifestyle blog of 2016, A Pipoca Mais Doce (The Sweetest Popcorn).

If it were up to Ana, she says every young person would take part in an Erasmus+ experience. For when she was in a new country, mastering the local language, she went on a journey to adulthood.

In addition to learning a new language and embracing new cultures, she had a chance to uphold key European values. ‘This experience sparks our curiosity and at the same time teaches us to be more tolerant towards other cultures,’ she added.

Today, Ana takes part in several solidarity initiatives, including raising funds for Lisbon’s main oncology wing and encourages her readers to mobilise in a ‘positive way’.  She is also the author of 5 books, including 2 children’s books.

Tiago Brandão Rodrigues – 40 – Portugal

Tiago Brandão Rodrigues – 40 – Portugal

Erasmus – Higher Education and Marie Curie fellowship

Spain, 1999-2000

‘There’s no other programme or initiative that can beat this one: because Erasmus+ allows people to leave their homes, to feel uneasy and to try and feel at home in a place that they don’t know at first. That’s the greatest and most rewarding experience.’

The Portuguese Minister for Education has had over 15 years’ experience living and working abroad. It all began in 1999, when Tiago undertook a one-year academic internship at the Spanish National Research Council in Madrid. He continued this research throughout his PhD in Biochemistry, in Portugal, Spain and the USA. Later he worked as a scientific researcher at the Cancer Research UK in the University of Cambridge, with funding from the European Commission through the Marie Curie Programme and the European Molecular Biology Organization. Tiago thanks Erasmus+ for giving him the confidence to pursue an international career. He recommends young people to take advantage of this opportunity and get to know a different Europe to what they are used to.

Diogo Piçarra – 26 – Portugal

Diogo Piçarra – 26 – Portugal

Singer and song writer, winner of the TV singing competition ĺdolos in 2012

Czech Republic, 2010-11

‘When I’m asked what was the turning point of my career or when I started thinking of pursuing a musical career… I say it was during my Erasmus, I recommend Erasmus 100%’.

Before his Erasmus experience, Diogo was in a band while studying at the University of Algarve. It wasn’t until he spent a semester abroad at the Palacký University in Olomouc, Czech Republic where he left everything behind and found the courage to start a solo career.

When he returned to Portugal Diogo was crowned the winner of the TV singing competition ‘Idol’ (ĺdolos) in 2012. The experience had a direct impact on his career, and now he is an accomplished musician, having released his debut album in 2015.

He appreciates the possibility to learn about new cultures and places: '70 years ago we didn’t have free movement. The fact that we can travel to another country - and often use the same currency, makes us feel we are, indeed, united.'

The Erasmus+ programme gave him first-hand experience of life in another country that he may have only otherwise seen on the television. Moreover, it gave Diogo an opportunity to appreciate the things he has in his own country. He believes that the Erasmus+ generation can help fight discrimination, prejudice and social exclusion through mixing cultures.

Carlos Arsénio – 30 – Portugal

Carlos Arsénio – 30 – Portugal

Vocational and Educational Training (VET)

Spain, 2004

Carlos is an electrical engineer. He completed a VET mobility when he was just 18 years old. Prior to moving to Cáceres to undertake his internship, Carols developed a prototype for a robot which could detect human life in areas hit by natural disasters, for which he won a Young Scientists and Researchers Award. During his mobility in Spain, Carlos developed an interest in industrial maintenance, and decided to pursue academic studies to become an engineer. Living abroad at such a young age gave Carlos the confidence to explore new and challenging environments, and adapt to different ways of working.