Your children don’t need the EU for a Year Abroad

OP blogger Luke Andrews independently organised his own Year Abroad via the British Council and received absolutely no help from the EU

LAST UPDATED: 23 May, 2016 @ 10:33

IT’S a common student fallacy that the EU is essential for a Year Abroad. Apparently, it provides an unforgettable experience that we simply can’t do without. The unnecessary ERASMUS grant is reason enough to stay in.

OP blogger Luke Andrews in Ronda - the City of Dreams
OP blogger Luke Andrews in Ronda – the City of Dreams

This is nonsense.

Following the DSU poll, it was disturbing to see how ‘right on’ everyone is. We’re students, right? Aren’t we meant to love a bit of rebellion? The results were a resounding YES – let’s stay in,
‘I <3 the EU’ and ‘I <3 Cameron’.

This says that we’re all rather boring. Instead of causing some fuss we prefer to cower behind the established political norms. I feel a bit embarrassed to be a Durham student right now.

Most students reject the no camp on the basis that we need it for our Year Abroads. This assumption is a bit like saying Malia Bouattia, leader of the NUS, wasn’t racist towards Jews.

I independently organised my own Year Abroad via the British Council and received absolutely no help from the EU.

I survived and so can you.

(Sounds a bit like a ‘Kandoo’ advert. You know, with the child on the loo using special paper to wipe its bottom. In this case, I am the ‘Kandoo’ paper wiping away the smear on your understanding left by the EU and departmental babble.)

As an anthropology student wanting to go to Spain to speak Spanish, my dream was declared impossible by my department. ‘You can go to the Netherlands, or the Czech Republic but no where else’ they said, and certainly no where that doesn’t teach in English.

Not attracted to the option to ‘study’ abroad I continued with my dream. Study abroaders appear to spend the vast majority of their time in a drunken haze, wasting money on pointless items of clothing and sticking with strictly anglophone friends, returning speaking less of the language they study than when they arrived.

Not wishing to give up just yet, I consulted the languages department and was guided to the British Council programme. A chance to have a proper job as an English language assistant in Spain, earn money and learn Spanish. Perfect. This programme is viewed so favourably that several universities, including Strathclyde University in Scotland, have made it a compulsory part of their language degrees.

I signed up, got the job, and on the 29 September headed out for the adventure of a lifetime.

Note, the EU hasn’t stuck in its oar yet declaring that it is going to save me. In fact it never did.

As I left the box, the EU was unable to ‘subscribe’ me to the ERASMUS grant. Behaving rather like Carol Beer, receptionist on Little Britain, they were unable to deal with initiative.

“Computer says ‘no’.”

The ERASMUS grant is a superfluous wad of cash that is given out for no apparent reason. This free money is traditionally wasted, ensuring that most get no closer to the culture they are living in than a bottle of local wine.

On my programme, the majority are actually Americans. They have no EU nanny net. They just get their salaries and they do fantastically.

You will survive without this grant.

Isn’t giving people no-strings-attached money for their support illegal anyway? Through giving students extra money that they don’t need, the EU is ‘buying’ student support. This is foul-play in every self-respecting democracy. It goes against UK law, democratic values and pretty much everything Western. If you’re going to vote ‘yes’ based solely on this grant system, then don’t.
Departure from the EU won’t spell doom for Year Abroad’s. After a bit of important sounding gossip in Brussels, the programmes will continue as normal. Countries have invested millions in teaching their populations English. They’re not going to phase out the inhabitants of the only European English speaking country in Europe.

The allure of learning English doesn’t even come from the UK. It heralds from America. It’s cultural achievements such as Game of Thrones, Economic powers like ExxonMobil, and music artists like Taylor Swift, permeate throughout the world.

This influence won’t disappear should we leave the EU. In fact, most countries won’t even care.

Speaking to spaniards here about the EU referendum, they say; “It’s a decision for them [UK].” People are more interested in local politics, than what a far-flung country gets up to in its spare time.

The worst the EU will do if we leave is slap on border controls. This means a bit more paper work but if you really want to do a Year Abroad, you’ll do it.

A UK departure will not spell doom for UK Year Abroad’s or study placements. We have been duped by the unaccountable and unknowable Brussels system into believing that our Year Abroads are impossible without them. The reality is that they pay us to keep quiet and support them.

Don’t be fooled by the student mantra; “Our Year Abroads would be impossible without the EU.”

Don’t let yourself be paid to vote for them.

Think before you vote this June.


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  1. Up to now Luke, you have made some good points. But I’m afraid this latest post reeks of sour grapes.
    To condense your self-congratulatory article, “I couldn’t get a grant, so none of the rest of you should either”

  2. Surviving for one year and surviving for a whole career are such vastly different things of course. Anthropology is certainly an interesting subject, I’ve known two PhD students who studied it. All retrained to other disciplines (law and IT) and worked abroad, in the EU, in their new roles, gaining residency and other benefits at the same time. One needs to look at the big picture…

  3. Stefanjo – I agree with your point, it is a bit self-congratulatory. However, I think that everyone should be allowed to feel proud of themselves every once in a while. No? There must be something that you’ve done that you’re proud of too. The articles message is not the quote that you suggest, it is to think before you vote. This is summarised quite nicely by the final line “think before you vote this June.” Moreover, I am not against anyone receiving the grant. I disagree with students voting for the EU based solely on the grant system.

    Fred – Thanks very much for your insightful and helpful comment! Completely agree.

    • Power to you, the world is your oyster and it was a great achievement. When you’ve purchased a property here, started a business, raised children, and invested much time, effort and of course, money, I can guarantee you’ll have a different view of life in Europe. The article was a little confused as to the message you were trying to get across.

  4. Anthropology maintains itself through a monopolistic control of several academic journals largely irrelevant to real life processes and an ever-expanding breadth and variety of knowledge not accessible through so-called anthropological method. Any attempts at cross-disciplinary (-disciplinary- is no longer a useful concept) synthesis is met with indifference and hostility.
    As a phd who studied with top tier scholars, I feel I can justly say this. Try for example to ground action in experience rather than in abstract in-vogue 19th & 20 C category theories. Neurobiology and radical embodied cognitive science do ground in experience, but are generally met with rejection by the -real- academic anthropologists. My former mentor, in his 90s, lived through it all: he tossed out anthropology decades ago in favor of cultural history and philosophy to get some breathing and publishing room. I did, too. Others took jobs in – gasp – marketing.
    Fred is right, I think, you will not find a place to exercise insight, creativity and a desire to do good in that field. Anthro is too intellectually restrictive – unless one thrives on scholasticism and historicism. I bailed out to do real things in a real world.
    I was disappointed, but not surprised to find that anthro journals were not interested in actual field work in actual places having to do with real activities – pieces I submitted. Instead they wanted studies that support their pet theories dictated by rotating departmental dons – who mistakenly believie that their scholasticism is scientific. Which it hasn’t been for a half century.

  5. “They’re not going to phase out the inhabitants of the only European English speaking country in Europe.”

    So what do they speak in Ireland – American English? Is Ireland not in Europe? Or has it rejoined the UK?

    “Year Abroads”

    That’s Years Abroad.