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Study abroad: the little-known secret to making the most of it

Pursuing an education in a country other than your own not only offers you the possibility of studying at some of the best universities in the world but also provides you with the experience of living in a different country, and immersing yourself in a different culture.  

Study abroad: the little-known secret to making the most of it

After all, studying abroad shouldn’t merely be about your academic education.

Studying abroad should provide numerous personal and professional benefits too, ultimately not only making you a better candidate for companies eager to hire interns and graduates who are flexible, multilingual, and comfortable in a range of situations, but also a more rounded person.

And a big part of this ‘added value’ are the extra-curricular activities offered by educational institutions – the societies, associations and groups that the best schools offer.

“I found it really eye-opening”

To get some insight into this important but less talked-about aspect of international education, The Local spoke to Leonardo Schulze Wierling and Calypso Dubos, both currently studying the three-year Bachelor in Management (BSc) at the ESCP Business School, which has campuses in six major European cities, and which emphasises the importance of developing life skills both on- and off-campus.

“It has really improved my emotional intelligence.” Calypso Dubos

Take this four-minute quiz to see if ESCP’s Bachelor in Management (BSc) could be right for you

“ESCP has a bunch of student societies that focus on, for example, art, debate, music, sport – just to name a few,” Calypso says. “I’m a member of MusicCollective and GirlUp society as well as Agora, the ESCP student union and they’ve all been amazing experiences. But the student ambassador programme really broadened my horizons.”

Student ambassadors offer advice and guidance to potential ESCP students. “I found it really eye-opening,” says Calypso. “It really forces you to reassess your priorities. It kind of pushes you out of the selfish mindset of being super-competitive and into one where you really care about others. Instead of just worrying about your future you end up thinking, ‘We’re all in this together’, and I’m going to give this person the best advice I can because I want them to succeed. You realise there’s so much more to life than your own academic success.”

Leonardo’s main off-campus activity is working as president of JET ESCP, a junior enterprise consulting firm founded in 2004 as a student association within ESCP Business School. The aim of junior enterprises is to give students experience of entrepreneurship at an early stage in their careers, to add practical experience to the theoretical skills and to provide private business with state-of-the-art knowledge from universities.

If you want to study management at a business school which broadens your horizons, learn more about ESCP, which has campuses in six major European cities

Leonardo is thriving in this environment. “I’ve learned real skills – client management, project management, market analysis, due diligence. It’s been really hard work but I’ve had a lot of doors open for me. I’ve had clients asking me if I wanted an internship because of the work I did for them, and I’ve had other students asking me for some mentoring.”

“I’ve learned real skills.” Leonardo Schulze Wiering

But it hasn’t been all plain sailing for Leonardo. “I remember this one client in Spain who was really tough. Spain is a hard place even for graduates – employers expect a master’s degree. So me, a bachelor’s student, I was getting a hard time from this one guy. So I asked him to give me two days and I’d come back with a structured approach on how to deal with the issue we were talking about. Two days later I was back and we won the business.”

“Get out of your comfort zone”

Both Leonardo and Calypso say they’ve learnt a lot off-campus with ESCP. Calypso, especially, thinks that her activities with the societies and associations have helped her grow as a person. “When you enter university it can be very difficult because you think you’re being ripped out of a familiar environment. But being at ESCP has definitely made me less self-centred and more aware of other people and their cultures and opinions. It’s really improved my emotional intelligence.”

Leonardo believes it’s pushed him to grab hold of opportunities when they arise. My time at ESCP has taught me that there are many open doors but that you have to walk through them yourself. Don’t wait to be asked.”

He has one last tip for prospective students, especially off-campus. “Get out of your comfort zone. Don’t stick with just your nationality. I have German friends here for sure, but I have made a point out of seeking people from other countries too. You’re at an international university – make the most of it!”

Take this 4-minute quiz to find out if the Bachelor in Management (BSc) at ESCP could be right for you. Applications are open until July or August depending on your country of residence – find out more about applications and admissions

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EUROPEAN UNION

How Europe plans to ease long-term residence rules for non-EU nationals

Non-EU citizens living in the European Union are eligible for a special residence status that allows them to move to another country in the bloc. Getting the permit is not simple but may get easier, explains Claudia Delpero.

How Europe plans to ease long-term residence rules for non-EU nationals

The European Commission proposed this week to simplify residence rules for non-EU nationals who live on a long-term basis in the European Union.

The intention is to ease procedures in three areas: acquiring EU long-term residence status, moving to other EU countries and improving the rights of family members. 

But the new measures will have to be approved by the European Parliament and the EU Council, which is made of national ministers. Will EU governments support them?

What is EU long-term residence?

Non-EU citizens who live in EU countries on a long-term basis are eligible for long-term residence status, nationally and at the EU level. 

This EU status can be acquired if the person has lived ‘legally’ in an EU country for at least five years, has not been away for more than 6 consecutive months and 10 months over the entire period, and can prove to have “stable and regular economic resources” and health insurance. Applicants can also be required to meet “integration conditions”, such as passing a test on the national language or culture knowledge. 

The EU long-term residence permit is valid for at least five years and is automatically renewable. But the status can be lost if the holder leaves the EU for more than one year (the EU Court of Justice recently clarified that being physically in the EU for a few days in a 12-month period is enough to maintain the status).

READ ALSO: IN NUMBERS: How many non-EU citizens live in European Union countries?

Long-term residence status grants equal treatment to EU nationals in areas such as employment and self-employment or education. In addition, EU long-term residence grants the possibility to move to other EU countries under certain conditions. 

What does the European Commission want to change?

The European Commission has proposed to make it easier to acquire EU long-term residence status and to strengthen the rights associated with it. 

Under new measures, non-EU citizens should be able to cumulate residence periods in different EU countries to reach the 5-year requirement, instead of resetting the clock at each move. 

This, however, will not apply to individuals who used a ‘residence by investment’ scheme to gain rights in the EU, as the Commission wants to “limit the attractiveness” of these routes and not all EU states offer such schemes. 

All periods of legal residence should be fully counted towards the 5 years, including those spent as students, beneficiaries of temporary protection or on temporary grounds. Stays under a short-term visa do not count.

Children who are born or adopted in the EU country having issued the EU long-term residence permit to their parents should acquire EU long-term resident status in that country automatically, without residence requirement, the Commission added.

READ ALSO: Why it may get easier for non-EU citizens to move to another European Union country

EU countries should also avoid imposing a minimum income level for the resources condition but consider the applicant’s individual circumstances, the Commission suggests.

Integration tests should not be too burdensome or expensive, nor should they be requested for long-term residents’ family reunifications. 

The Commission also proposed to extend from 12 to 24 months the possibility to leave the EU without losing status, with facilitated procedures (no integration test) for the re-acquisition of status after longer absences.

A person who has already acquired EU long-term residence status in one EU country should only need three years to acquire the same status in another EU member state. But the second country could decide whether to wait the completion of the five years before granting social benefits. 

The proposal also clarifies that EU long-term residents should have the same right as EU nationals with regard to the acquisition of private housing and the export of pensions, when moving to a third country. 

Why make these changes?

Although EU long-term residence exists since 2006, few people have benefited. “The long-term residents directive is under-used by the member states and does not provide for an effective right to mobility within the EU,” the Commission says. 

Around 3.1 million third-country nationals held long-term residence permits for the EU in 2017, compared to 7.1 million holding a national one. “we would like to make the EU long-term residence permit more attractive,” said European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson.

The problems are the conditions to acquire the status, too difficult to meet, the barriers faced when moving in the EU, the lack of consistency in the rights of long-term residents and their family members and the lack of information about the scheme.

Most EU member states continue to issue “almost exclusively” national permits unless the applicant explicitly asks for the EU one, an evaluation of the directive has shown.

READ ALSO: Pensions in the EU: What you need to know if you’re moving country

This proposal is part of a package to “improve the EU’s overall attractiveness to foreign talent”, address skill shortages and facilitate integration in the EU labour market of people fleeing Ukraine. 

On 1 January 2021, 23.7 million non-EU nationals were residing in the EU, representing 5.3% of the total population. Between 2.25 to 3 million non-EU citizens move to the EU every year. More than 5 million people have left Ukraine for neighbouring states since the beginning of the war in February. 

Will these measures also apply to British citizens?

These measures also apply to British citizens, whether they moved to an EU country before or after Brexit. 

The European Commission has recently clarified that Britons living in the EU under the Withdrawal Agreement can apply for a long-term residence too.

As Britons covered by the Withdrawal Agreement have their residence rights secured only in the country where they lived before Brexit, the British in Europe coalition recommended those who need mobility rights to seek EU long-term residence status. 

These provisions do not apply in Denmark and Ireland, which opted out of the directive.

What happens next?

The Commission proposals will have to be discussed and agreed upon by the European Parliament and Council. This is made of national ministers, who decide by qualified majority. During the process, the proposals can be amended or even scrapped. 

In 2021, the European Parliament voted through a resolution saying that third-country nationals who are long-term residents in the EU should have the right to reside permanently in other EU countries, like EU citizens. The Parliament also called for the reduction of the residency requirement to acquire EU long-term residence from five to three years.

READ ALSO: COMPARE: Which EU countries grant citizenship to the most people?

EU governments will be harder to convince. However, presenting the package, Commission Vice-President for Promoting our European Way of Life, Margaritis Schinas, said proposals are likely to be supported because “they fit in a broader framework”, which represents the “construction” of the “EU migration policy”. 

National governments are also likely to agree because large and small employers face skill shortages, “especially in areas that are key to our competitiveness, like agri-food, digital, tourism, healthcare… we need people,” Schinas said.

The article is published in cooperation with Europe Street News, a news outlet about citizens’ rights in the EU and the UK.

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