The original idea of ​​Erasmus lives on – Mostar is connected to European countries

Erasmus plus is the most successful project of the European Union in our country, and we bring you the experiences of students arriving and departing from the University of Mostar.

“I can freely say that participating in this program is the best decision of my life. The Erasmus + program is an excellent opportunity for students to become independent, meet new people and cultures, and acquire some new skills,” Monika Marić, a fifth-year student of Psychology at the University of Mostar, which is one of the sixteen higher education institutions in Mostar, told BiH participating in the Erasmus+ program. Through this project, Marić went to Pécs in Hungary and spent five months there. Her opinion about the project is shared by Ignacio Jesus, doctor of political sciences, who was at the University of Mostar in the spring of 2019. He is now an assistant professor at the University of Granada and a researcher at the Robert Zajonc Institute of the University of Warsaw, and his experience in Mostar was very educational.

The most successful EU project in BiH

Erasmus +, the most successful project of the European Union in Bosnia and Herzegovina, is also well known in Spain, but Ignacio chose Mostar for several reasons. “I have never been and I wanted to change and find a new environment. Then, as a political scientist, research stays are very important, because it is a way of learning about the culture, society, politics and development of the country. Therefore, with this kind of immersion, we can offer a broader vision, capable of covering extremes that do not appear in books. Life, the reality we live with this type of experience, is fundamental in the life development of people, especially students and researchers,” Ignacio Jesus told

Mostar, he says, delighted him. ” It is a very charming place, and one can decipher the passage of time, learn and continue to improve. It is the perfect city to carry out a research stay of several weeks or months, for which Erasmus plays a fundamental role. The area offers peace, and the University of Mostar has perfect facilities, as well as the necessary human capital. Without a doubt, I met great people during my stay”, said Ingacio, highlighting Jelena and Dražen, two people from the University, who, in his opinion, are a mirror in which the city, country and culture must be viewed. “They are the future, but above all the present of this society. When I remember my step, I have beautiful memories that, in one way or another, thanks to it, I still live”, says Ignacio.

Mostar was ‘replaced’ by Peču

Monika decided to replace her stay in Mostar with Pécs in Hungary, adding that she had always wanted to go on an exchange, but because of the uniqueness of the Psychology study program and the courses included in it, she says she was prevented from doing so earlier. “I had two countries offered to go to, but Hungary had a large selection of Psychology courses, so it was a better choice. I really liked the faculty in Pécs. It is an international university, which hosts students from all over the world and holds lectures in English. I had the opportunity to meet different cultures, value systems, attitudes and beliefs of students from many parts of the world. Most of all, I was impressed by the approach of the professors at that faculty, i.e. the way they positioned themselves with a lot of respect and understanding towards the students”, says Monika, adding that the teaching required constant interaction, which requires the development of critical thinking and the use of acquired knowledge. Through that experience, she says, in addition to gaining some new knowledge in the field of psychology as a science, she had the opportunity to progress in the level of knowledge of the English language.

“You will not ‘lose’ a year on exchange”

It is a common belief that students will fail a year if they go on exchange, and Monika also had that fear before going on exchange. But that is not the case, she says.< Monika had financial support for mobility from the Erasmus+ project, and if it is handled responsibly, says Monika, it is sufficient for all necessary expenses. “I organized my studies in accordance with the deadlines and complexity of the course I am taking, i.e. I set aside more time for more complex courses. The professors were very approachable and available if I needed any help. Also, we had several study libraries that allow students to prepare for exams in peaceful conditions. This is very common in Hungary because they work 24 hours a day during the exam period. In the end, I was very satisfied because I passed all the courses I enrolled in,” she said. From 2018 to 2021, Jelena Jurčić was the head of the Office for International Cooperation of the Faculty of Philosophy of the University of Mostar, which is the coordinator for the Faculty of Philosophy at the University level, who currently holds the position of vice-dean for international cooperation of the Faculty of Philosophy of the University of Mostar, and for Erasmus+ the project says that the EU program supporting education, training, youth and sports in Europe is important.

Key activities of the Erasmus+ project

“In the beginning, it was only called Erasmus (European Community Action Scheme for Mobility of University Students), but with the expansion to other aspects outside the higher education area, this “+” sign was also added. The entire program is divided into three key activities and the Jean Monnet program. The first key activity is learning mobility for individuals and it is by far the most used aspect of Erasmus+. Another key activity is the cooperation of organizations and institutions, and this includes various capacity building projects, partnerships for innovation and the network of European universities, of which the University of Mostar recently became a member by joining the EU Peace network. The third key activity includes support for policy development and cooperation. Jean Monnet programs promote teaching and research on European integration and debates on Union policy priorities and are divided into modules, chairs and centers of Jean Monnet originality”, explains Jurčić.

In 2022, the Faculty of Philosophy of the University of Mostar was approved for a project under the auspices of the Jean Monnet Module called SUM EP WeB, which will last three years and concerns the Western Balkans enlargement policy and 14 priority points. Jurčić says that Erasmus+ provides a wide range of opportunities for the exchange of experiences and knowledge, and he believes that more and more teaching and non-teaching staff, as well as students, see the benefits of this program. “That trend can be confirmed by the greater number of realized mobilities, but also by the many collaborations in projects that fall under the Erasmus+ program. I believe that various university activities such as the university Info days on mobility have borne fruit, and students and teachers are increasingly open to this possibility. The Faculty of Philosophy of the University of Mostar also launched monthly Erasmus coffees called Erasmus+ to go, where students who have been on exchange for one or two semesters talk about their experiences to everyone who joins us for coffee. There we talk about all the problems that can happen on such mobility, but also all the benefits that this program offers”, says Jurčić.

At the monthly ‘Erasmus coffees’, Erasmus blues is also discussed, which is a confirmed syndrome of returning to reality. “I believe that this type of informal dissemination is a key promoter of experiences provided by Erasmus+”, he adds.

Mobility and experiences

Staff mobilities, he clarifies, last for a week, while student mobilities last a semester with the possibility of extension for another semester. “During their stay at foreign institutions, teachers can either teach or improve their skills at training sessions on a specific topic. Students can attend classes at a foreign institution or do some type of practice/internship, depending on which profession we are talking about. The biggest problem with Erasmus is that once you try these programs, you become a big fan of the idea of ​​looking at where you’re going next semester. Students who go on mobility return more open, with broader views on life and their studies and the purposefulness of their profession. Teachers, on the other hand, make acquaintances that help them realize the full potential of their career,” says Jurčić. Another segment of Erasmus mobility is incoming mobility where foreign students come to the University, in this case the Faculty of Philosophy, to spend a semester or two. “Like all students entering unknown territory, these foreign students need a guide, which is why the Faculty of Philosophy of the University of Mostar launched the Buddy program, where domestic students who have been on mobility are assistants to foreign students and help them with basic navigation in our institution. The idea is just a realization of the well-established practice of European universities, because in addition to the help that the Office for International Cooperation provides to all students and professors who are on mobility, there is a segment of student life that we do not enter into. This function is taken over by the buddy and helps the foreign student with basic student obligations,” says Jurčić. Experiences with incoming mobilities, he says, are very positive and they are often very good students and professors with whom we extend cooperation to some other aspects.

Cooperation achieved

  “Two years ago, we had a PhD student from Granada who then invited a young assistant professor from our Political Science Department to come to them and give a lecture. This cooperation continued with the arrival of their professor in May of this year at our faculty, and we finally signed a cooperation agreement with them, according to which, from next year, the IPSA (International Political Science Association) summer school will be held at the Faculty of Philosophy of the University of Mostar, which it concerns the scientific methodology of political science”, says Jurčić. Ignacio Jesus said that the original idea of ​​the Erasmus plan really lives on.

“They connect citizens of different European countries. In this way, Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as future candidates for joining the Union, must be a flexible part of this plan, not only for the integration project, but as a way of progressing in a wider and more diverse society”, says Ignacio.

Join the experience

With that, Mostar meets all the conditions and without a doubt invites colleagues to join this experience. “Besides, I have been trying for some time to continue expanding connections and programs so that Mostar and its people continue to open up to Europe and the world,” says Ignacio, in which we wish him luck and success.

And Monika, who replaced the benches at the University of Mostar with those at European universities, says that “participating in this program is the best life decision”.

Recommendation – “have a new experience!”

“Erasmus + program is a great opportunity for students to become independent, meet new people and cultures and acquire some new skills. The experience that comes with studying abroad allows you to get to know yourself first, and then to stimulate your personal growth and development,” says Monika. He points out that it is positive that during mobility you have the opportunity to develop new friendships, meet and travel to hitherto unknown regions and create memories that you will remember for a lifetime. “For me, the time of my mobility was the time when I was the happiest, so I would definitely recommend this program to other students. She would like them to experience the feeling of freedom in which they constantly have the opportunity to experience something new, and when they return home to feel how much self-confidence they have gained during that period. The positive sides of mobility largely outweigh the negative. And every obstacle that comes your way will enable you to learn to effectively solve problems and become the best version of yourself,” says Monika, saying that for these reasons she herself decided to apply for the Erasmus+ program for the next semester, and would recommend the same to everyone. .