Erasmus Mundus Forum is now open!

emf logo short

It has been three years since there was a new post on this blog for a number of factors, including a lack of contributors and the rise of Facebook as a messaging platform. But in the last three years, I’ve still been receiving email and people have continued posting comments on the FAQs page, often having conversations in the comments. This made me realise that there is a need for a place where applicants, incoming students and alumni can discuss. So I have teamed up with my friend Rhem to start this forum site.

Ladies and gentlemen, presenting Erasmus Mundus Forum.

It will take time to gain traction, and certainly my timing (at the tail end of the results period for the next intake) doesn’t help. I will need your support in the form of new topics and replies to existing threads. Can I count on you to get the ball rolling? One little post. It’s easy. Just connect using your Facebook or Twitter account if you don’t want to create a new username and password.

Whether you’re a prospective Erasmus Mundus applicant, current scholar or graduate, you can leave a message and connect with others like you. Come on over and be one of the founding posters on the forum! See you there!

Categories: Alumni, Announcements, Erasmus Mundus, Students | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Things to Prepare Before Leaving for Italy for an EMJD (and what you’ll need once you get there)

By Kate Dy, Erasmus Mundus Joint Doctorate on Globalisation, Europe & Multiculturalism

Kate Dy in Rome

The author (middle) with friends in Rome

I’ve been a scholar of some shape or form my entire life and I would like to think that I handle paperwork, bureaucracy, and ensuing stress quite well, but nothing quite prepared me for the Erasmus Mundus Joint Doctorate program in Italy. If I sound weary, please don’t chalk it up to years of research, it’s actually only my first month here in Rome. But I have learned a lot through the on-going process, and this may be of help for anyone who’s in the same spot.

I would just want to put it out there that you shouldn’t be discouraged from applying to the EMJD GEM program because of the tons and tons of work you’ll have to do even before being able to do your research. Rather, take a deep breath and know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel— or so I heard. No one has actually finished their EMJD GEM program as of writing this, so that may be just hearsay. That said, never allow anyone to tell you to be grateful for a scholarship and just shut up. The Erasmus Mundus programs choose their students because of merit and not because of poverty or pity or charity. We are allowed to have the same expectation of excellence from our hosts.

Unlike the Erasmus Mundus MOVER or EMMA programs, EMJDs are handled very differently. The main points of variance are that we are under employment contracts and that we’re pretty much thrown into the deep end of bureaucracy to fend for ourselves. While it’s true that PhD students are supposedly older and more mature, this doesn’t mean we automatically imbibe the knowledge of the ins and outs of Italian bureaucracy from the air!

If you suddenly find yourself as an EMJD scholar in Italy, or if you’re looking to be one, be sure to be prepared mentally, financially, and emotionally.

Before leaving your home country:

  1. Sign all the documents! No, seriously, double check all your contracts and sign everything required otherwise you may find yourself being penalized for technicality. In particular, for the EMJD program there will be four things to affix your signature to:
    1. A letter of acceptance, which you type, scan, and send yourself
    2. The EMJD GEM contract
    3. The Travel and Installation Fund (T&I Fund) contract. EMJD students are given 7500€ and the contract states that this is all our travel funding for the next three years and that we waive any further monetary requests
    4. Your university employment contract (which may be signed when you arrive)
  2. Find a place to stay in your host country. Often, such as in my case, universities don’t consider PhD students as “real” students and as such dormitories are unavailable. Sometimes universities have dedicated housing services that you make take advantage of, such as CasaLUISS in my case, but if not, ask around! Senior Erasmus Mundus people both Filipino and foreign are very friendly and you may even score a roomie.
  3. Book a plane ticket. You need this for your visa application. There is a dedicated Erasmus Mundus travel agency, but don’t rely on them too much— first of all, they rarely reply, and second, they don’t care about the best price and may take a larger chunk out of your T&I Fund than you would have wanted to spend.
  4. Get that visa.
  5. Make sure the embassy that issued your visa stamps everything. You will need it later on for your permesso di soggiorno (if in Italy) or the equivalent permit to say anywhere else. The embassy should give you the documents without you asking, but if they don’t, insist. I was not aware of this, and left Manila with nothing from the embassy then arrived in Rome to find all my fellow scholars with their respective stamped documents.
  6. If required, have the DFA authenticate all relevant documents (mainly school transcripts). Have all these documents translated into the language of your host country. Have these authenticated by the embassy. In the case of the Italian embassy, all of these are necessary and these processes are quite expensive and time-consuming. Be sure to allocate enough time and money, and bring good books–you’re in for a long wait.
  7. Pack everything but keep within the luggage limit! All Europe-bound carriers are rather strict. Come to think of it, all airlines are now rather strict.
  8. Photocopy everything you have. I mean everything. Have 1×1, 2×2, and passport size photos made. At least eight of each. Print out photos of family and friends as well, for your new home.
  9. Make sure you have enough money to survive for two months in your home country. If there’s space in your luggage, bring food as well. Instant noodles will tide you over the worst days.
  10. Say goodbye to Jollibee.

Upon arriving at your host country, in this case, Italy:

  1. Find your way to your home and avoid getting cheated by the cab driver. If you don’t have a home yet, find a place ASAP. Remember that September is the influx month for new students from all over the country and the world, so competition will be fierce.
  2. Inform your local contact point and your supervisor and the Central Executive Committee of your program and your course representatives and your embassy that you have arrived safely. Oh, and your family of course!
  3. Buy a SIM card and bus card. WIND is a good provider, for 10€ a month you can have 400 minutes of calls, 400 SMS, and unlimited internet. This is pre-paid, so don’t forget to load up. Also find your closest groceries, bus stop, police station, emergency room, wet market, garbage bin, and so on.
  4. Open a bank account immediately, so as to receive your salary as soon as possible. But don’t expect anything before two months. Seriously. Don’t. For EMJD GEM students, UniCredit is your best bet as it’s the bank the school uses so there are fewer delays with your stipend.
  5. Apply for your Permesso di Soggiorno. Ask your university for help, but if they are unable to help due to bureaucratic matters, suck it up and fend for yourself.
  6. Apply for your Tessera Sanitaria. As employees who are taxed more than 50% of our income, EMJD students have the right to the national health service. EMJD GEM students have a declared income of 2800€, but what we end up receiving monthly is around 1500€, and even less during December. Be prepared to devote two weeks to this process, more if you have specific medical concerns like diabetes or if you have your family in Italy with you.
  7. Apply for a Carta d’Identita. This is basically a redundant identification document. Despair at the sheer amount of paperwork!
  8. And when this is all over, or whenever you need a break, be a tourist. Bureaucracy can sap the life out of the best of us, and believe me when I say the Italian system is one of the worst I’ve ever experienced in the world. You really don’t have much leeway either, as if you don’t put on a brave face and handle all the official things you may end up facing worse complications. That said, Rome is beautiful and travel around Europe is cheap so once you’re all settled and legal, go for it.
When in Rome...don't be ashamed to be a tourist!

When in Rome…don’t be ashamed to be a tourist!

[Admin’s note: While the views expressed in this post are the author’s own, I agree with the two-month rule on money when dealing with the Italians, having experienced it first-hand. Always have a contingency plan!]

Categories: Erasmus Mundus, Life in Europe, Students | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

[UPDATE] Welcome to the UK: Pre-departure Briefing for UK-bound Students

Every year British Council conducts a Pre-departure Briefing for UK-bound students. The briefing covers topics ranging from academic life, accommodation, cost of living and many more that aim to help incoming international students.

This year’s Pre-departure Briefing for students will be on 03 August, Saturday from 9 a.m. to 12 noon at the British Council office in Ortigas Center, Pasig City. The briefing is free. To reserve a seat, please email Please bring your CAS or offer letter.


Categories: Announcements, Students | Leave a comment

UK Pre-departure Briefing at the British Council

The British Council will have a Pre-Departure Briefing Seminar on 20 July 2012, Friday, at the premises of the British Council Philippines from 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM.

This event is intended for those who will be going to the UK to study this academic year. The 2 hour programme will cover topics ranging from academic life, accommodation, cost of living and many more.

We have invited Filipinos who have studied in the UK to share experiences on their student life in the UK while British Council Philippines staff will be on hand to answer other queries about studying and living in the UK.

To reserve a seat, please email the following information to

  • Name
  • UK Institution or University
  • Course or Programme

Admission is FREE.

This event is exclusive to those who are bound for the UK to study.

This seminar will also be broadcasted via live internet feed (WEBINAR). If you prefer to join us online, please send the above information to the same email address and we will send you instructions on how to join. It is advisable for you to have a good internet connection, using either Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox, and a headset for better quality viewing of the webinar.

For further enquiries, please do not hesitate to contact us or check us out on our Facebook Page.

Categories: Announcements, Students | Leave a comment

Results jitters

Hello, EM applicants!

I’ve noticed a lot of tension and excitement in the comments section lately pertaining to the results of the 2012-2013 intake. Because there is a lack of a proper forum for the topic, it’s inevitable that this blog is flooded with your updates, which we welcome.

One thing I would like to request for you is to be very patient. I know you’ve been waiting for a long time. I’ve been there and I know how it feels like. Don’t get stressed about things that are beyond your control and add to other applicants’ nervousness. Just state your update (or the lack thereof), but please don’t vent here. The results will greatly impact on your life for the next few years, for sure, but it’s not reasonable to expect an inter-country committee poring through hundreds of application to fit their timelines into yours. Some consortia have finished their processes ahead but don’t let that be your standard. Each consortium has its own timings, though they all have the same deadlines at the Commission.

If it’s any consolation, I only heard about the scholarship decision in late June. I believe a lot has improved since then (six years ago).

Good luck and keep us posted. We’d be happy to hear from you.



Your Admin

Categories: Announcements, Erasmus Mundus, Students | 1 Comment

First Bursts of Spring in Sibiu

Our correspondent, Mari-An C. Santos, continues her series on life as a student in Romania.

March is a beautiful month in Romania, mostly because it is the beginning of the end of winter. Yes, after more than three months of blistering cold, punctuated with snow storms that result in meters-high snow that make roads unpassable, or a crust of ice that makes them slippery, the sun starts to show its warm face again. And that thin ray of hope is enough to celebrate.

Guys buy flowers and trinkets for lady-loves/significant others

There are three events that they observe on such a month: Mărțișor, Babele, and Women’s Day.

Mărțișor is celebrated on the 1st of March, commemorating the beginning of spring. The word comes from the old name of March in Romanian. My friend, Natalia, told me a legend that she has heard since she was a little girl in the region of Moldova/Moldavia. It says that Spring was a beautiful fairy who wanted to bring warmth and sun to the earth. But the god of Frost would not allow it. So when Spring came to earth to bring forth the new season, the god of Frost engaged her in battle in order to stop her. It was a long and tedious battle, and Spring was exhausted that eventually, Frost wounded one of her fingers and blood dripped from her onto the white snow. From the place where Spring’s blood touched the snow, a beautiful snowdrop appeared. It gave Spring the power to defeat the god of Frost, and bring warmth to people, ending the cold of winter. Since then, on the first day of spring, people wear a mărțișor to commemorate the defeat of the god of Frost.

Different kinds of mărțișor on sale at makeshift stalls all over town

A mărțișor is also a trinket that is given to the women (generally) to wear at the onset of spring, to wish them good health. It was, initially, made up of intertwined white and red string, in reference to Spring’s blood and the cold of snow. In more modern times, anything from a simple pin or brooch to earrings and miniature symbols are attached to the mărțișor and given as a sign of friendship or love. It also symbolizes fertility. Women usually wear them pinned on their coats for the first few days of spring.

Ironically, as I spent Mărțișor in Brasov, Transylvania, it was a beautiful, sunny day that felt indeed like a promise of spring. But the very next day, it started to snow again.

The author, fourth from right, with fellow Asians

Meanwhile, Babele or Baba Dochia is observed starting on the 1st of March too. My friend, Adelina, narrated the legend of Baba, an old woman who went up a mountain with her sheep. It was winter, so she was wearing nine layers of coats. But as she ascended, she felt warmer, and one by one, she took off the coats she was wearing. But when she reached the top, the weather became colder and she froze and turned to stone.

Each person chooses a day beforehand, from March 1 to 9, and however the weather on that day is, that is how your year will go. For example, if it’s sunny, then it will be a good, pleasant year; if it’s snowy, then it will be a tumultuous one.

Another related legend is about Dochia, the daughter of Decebal (king of Dacia from 87 to 106). The Roman emperor Trajan fell in love with her. As she was running away from Trajan, she hid in the Ceahlău Massif (also called the Romanian Olympus) with her sheep. There, Dochia froze along with her sheep, and turned into stone. Even today, you can see the rocks that are purported to be Dochia and her sheep, dotting the mountain’s landscape.

Spring starts: streets in full bloom with flowers and colors

Now, Women’s Day is an international celebration. But the celebration in Romania is one akin to the Valentine’s Day celebration that we know. Again, as a testament to the summer that is about to come, flowers flood the shops lining the streets. Women of different ages receive flowers from family and friends—and lovers, of course. Old women also gather pussy willow branches that they sell and are also symbols of spring.

Women from the university dance at the Women's Day party

However, as of the end of March, snow still remains on the peaks not too far away from the city of Sibiu—in Balea and Paltinis. People make the most of the fact that the sun is shining to snowboard and ski. And just the other day, it snowed again. Maybe spring is not quite here yet. But March bears the hope that it will some soon enough.

Read Mari-An’s first post, Valentine’s in Sibiu, here.

Categories: Life in Europe, Students | 2 Comments

Pinoy Erasmus Mundus scholar wins EMA Photo Contest

Ken Subillaga, student of the Erasmus Mundus Mobility with Asia Doctorate Program and Pinoy Erasmus Mundus contributor, won the EMA Photo Contest in March with his photo “Love knows no boundaries” (above) , which topped the Facebook voting with over 200 Likes. More about the photo here. Congrats, Ken!

Categories: Announcements, Competitions, Students | 1 Comment

Valentine’s in Sibiu

by Mari-An Santos

Valentine’s day is a big, commercial holiday in the Philippines. It is the day that causes traffic jams all over the metro. Sweets, flowers, hearts and pink and red abound in true commercialized style. It is an “imported” holiday, mostly propagated by the West. Here in Romania, it is slowly inching its way into the consciousness of locals, but there is a movement, if you will, that would rather propagate the celebration of Dragobete, a similar holiday held on the 24th of February (more on that later).

I learned from a few Erasmus friends that in Belgium, for example, majority of Belgians perceive Valentine’s Day as a commercial and marketing ploy; and that not all couples celebrate it. Those who do often go out to a restaurant and exchange gifts. Men often give women jewelry and red roses. It is also celebrated in Slovakia, where my friend reassures, the men are educated and you can find interesting conversation, as well as charming and fun—and with a wink, generally like Asian women.

In Pakistan, having a girlfriend or a boyfriend is not so common, so those who are in relationships usually have to covertly buy gifts and hide them from family members before giving them to their love interest. In the university, a single guy will hold out a rose to a girl that he likes.

A few days before the holiday, since some Erasmus students were already finished with their exams and were looking for something to do, our Facebook group page was abuzz with ideas on how to celebrate the occasion—mostly just an excuse to hold a party, but this time, with a specific theme. Ideas from the usual food and drinks to couples paired up to dance were thrown around. The international relations department got wind of the plans and before we knew it, we had a venue at the university canteen and the rector and vice-rector were set to attend the occasion! So from an informal gathering to hang out, we had to get at least a little dressed up, though thankfully, not necessarily in red and pink.

Each student pitched in some money for a few decorations and snacks. More than 50 of us were in attendance, with some Romanian students who were our friends as guests. We had a “paper roses” presentation, where each girl had a number and each guy picked a number from a bowl—and whoever picked the girl’s number would give her a paper rose. The guys thought of different styles, from getting down on one knee, to delivering a romantic soliloquy to one even playing the “My Heart Will Go On” on his harmonica.

There was also the apple-eating game where four couples raced to finish off an apple suspended on a string. Another, was a simplified dating game, where one girl chose from three guys and won…a rose and presented the guy a bar of chocolate. Some of the guys sang for the head of the international department and presented her with flowers. Then, we enjoyed some cakes from the international department and spent a few minutes dancing before heading back to the dormitory. The event seemed interesting enough that it was even featured in a local paper and website.

But the more interesting holiday is the local Valentine’s day that also celebrates the beginning of spring—even in these times of climate change. Dating back to the Dacian era (1st century-1st century CE), the practice is being heavily promoted, encouraging couples to resist the foreign, imported holiday in favor of the local one. Traditionally, in the countryside, girls and boys pick flowers and dance and sing together. Also, it is the time when a boy can express his love for a girl. A boy will run after a girl and if he catches up with her and kisses her, it is believed that their love will be strong for a year. I asked about the next year, and apparently, they do the process again. 🙂 Women also supposedly gather some remaining snow and use water from them to make potions. I have yet to find out a recipe. When I do, I’ll let you know. 😉

Meantime, I am told that more interesting celebrations are coming in the next few weeks, like Martisoare on 1 March and Women’s Day on 8 March. I will surely update you on those events.

Mari-An Santos is pursuing her Masters in Advertising and Brand at Universitatea “Lucian Blaga” din Sibiu in Romania under EMMA East.

Categories: Erasmus Mundus, Life in Europe, Students | 4 Comments

Contributors wanted!

Are you an Erasmus Mundus student or alumnus with something to show or tell about your EM experience? We would be happy to hear from you. Share your stories, tips and photos with the Pinoy Erasmus Mundus blog. Citizenship is not an issue; non-Filipinos are welcome. Feel free to email your suggestions, proposals or drafts to

Categories: Alumni, Erasmus Mundus, Life in Europe, Students | 1 Comment

Christmas in Europe

Winter Wonderland
Last December 2010, I spent Christmas with a Czech family in Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic. It was one of the most memorable Christmases I ever had away from my family.

Adobo Fridge
I made it a point to share our traditional Filipino dish, adobo. They all loved it. But since the fridge was quite full, we had to find another place to store my adobo — the balcony at -15 degrees Centigrade… 🙂

Prague Main Square

Christmas in Prague
Czech Republic is perhaps one of my favorite European countries. That’s why for my second Christmas in Europe away from my family, I decided to spend it in Prague with friends.

Berlin, Germany

Berliner Christmas
Going around Europe during the Christmas season has become one thing I look forward to. I have always loved Christmas tiangge. All over Europe, Christmas markets are famous but the one in Berlin is one of my favorites.

The author (far right) with Chinese-Australian friends

Ken Subillaga
Doctorate in Educational Design and Innovation
University of Santiago de Compostela
Santiago de Compostela, Spain
3rd Year – EMMA program

Categories: Life in Europe, Students | Leave a comment

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