Supported by the European Union
Heaven knows I couldn’t have got to where I am today without the financial support of others. I very rarely borrow money, but when I do it is from blood relatives or faceless corporations. Anyone in between is not likely to be a suitable or sympathetic lender.
Now, however, I have the weight of the world (or at least a small continent) on my shoulders as my Erasmus exchange is confirmed. I have the paperwork that tells me I’m heading to France in February to spend a semester at the école d’architecture de Strasbourg. My stint will last four to five months, and thanks to the Erasmus programme it’s a simple as buying a ticket and showing up in Strasbourg. I continue to pay fees at Sheffield and I will continue to accrue marks for my final degree from Sheffield, I just have to do the studying and project work in Strasbourg according to that course.
Students who commit to a whole year in Europe get an even better deal, since as an incentive the Erasmus programme will waive all your tuition fees for the whole year (students facing top-up fees take note). As I’m not brave enough to commit to a whole year of studying in another country and another language, I don’t benefit from this deal, but I will be looking forward to a monthly allowance of €270 to support me. And for that, I have the generous and hard working tax payers of the citizens of the European Union member states to thank.
This generosity has encouraged me to spend my coppers wisely. I’ve now made my travel arrangements for the relocation to Strasbourg. Ryanair used to fly to Strasbourg Airport, but they were thrown out when Air France complained that the deal the Irish airline had negotiated with the airport was unfair and uncompetitive (apparently Air France wasn’t happy that they were paying Strasbourg Airport to land there, whereas Ryanair was quite happily negotiating contracts with airports that saw them getting paid in subsidies to bring passengers in to certain regions). So although there’s no cheapo flight to Strasbourg, Ryanair went off in a huff set up services to Karlsruhe-Baden Airport, just across the border from Strasbourg in Germany.
But even though a return flight from London Stansted to Karlsruhe-Baden Airport would cost £9.81 including all taxes and charges, Michael O’Leary won’t be getting a penny from me. A few years ago, I might have been tempted. But since the people of Europe are entrusting me with their money, it’s only fair I re-invest it in something much more positive and much less polluting. Mr. O’Leary might not understand why (he thinks not in exeperiences but in numbers) but I’ve spent £70 more than his airline’s best price to make the journey by train.