by Sheryl Lozel Bico-Arreola
My year-and-a-half Erasmus Mundus experience was like living a dream adventure–pursuing higher education while traveling around the world!
Four years ago, I was surfing the internet when I came across the European Union’s Erasmus Mundus website and learned of the European Masters Courses being offered with scholarship grants. Scholarship coverage includes tuition fees, travel expenses, stipend, insurance and accommodation. So I said to myself, “Why not?”
I applied for one of the programs, EM Food Science, Technology and Nutrition (www.sefotechnut.org) and two months later, I was accepted. What a great way to realize a dream – pursuing a higher quality of education, European standards at that, and traveling at the same time to some of the most beautiful places in Europe!
The SEFOTECH.NUT program was participated in by students from the EU, US, and Third-Countries like the Philippines [ed’s note: Third-Country means outside of EU and EEA). Although English was our medium of instruction, an English language course was still offered to us to facilitate interaction among students of different cultures and languages. More importantly, a Dutch language course was offered for everyday situations.
The program was organized in a modular format. These modules were offered in specific partner institutions where the topics are most suited. I took the six compulsory modules at Catholic University of Applied Science Sint-Lieven (Belgium) and the four optional in three consortium partners: Dublin Institute of Technology (Ireland), Hochschule Anhalt (Germany), and Universidade Catolica Portuguesa (Portugal). The modules enriched our skills and knowledge for us to understand the complex and important issues of the food industry. Learnings also integrate
the application of other technologies to food such as biotechnology, packaging, engineering and agriculture.
My scientific project, which is a requirement of the program, was conducted under the supervision of Dr. Alcina Morais of Universidade Catolica Portuguesa, Portugal. With her perseverance and determination, we were able to publish two refereed journal articles!
To relieve ourselves from the rigors of studying, we were privileged to have endless possibilities in exploring the grandeur and wealth of cultures in the European Community. We could go on a weekend trip to some of the most beautiful cities like Barcelona, Madrid, Paris, Berlin, Rome and Venice! A train ride across many cities, along the tranquil rivers, with majestic castles and mountains as the backdrop, offers a relaxing yet learning experience like no other. The architectural masterpieces we see only in school textbooks abound in every European town or city. And with one currency, the Euro, we could always take the trains, buses, or taxis and buy souvenirs from almost any part of Europe.