At the beginning of this school year, two EACH students took part in the first edition of Mindful Mundus. It’s a project aimed at the students at Erasmus Mundus programs to give them mental health awareness, as well as interpersonal and intercultural competences. In this post, Merili and Phu share their experience with the project.

Merili: When I first heard about Mindful Mundus, I was very glad to see this opportunity to raise mental health awareness within the Erasmus Mundus community. I know from my own experience how tough it is to deal with mental health struggles while getting your higher education. As an Erasmus Mundus student, in addition to all the usual stressors, we’re far away from our families and our comfort zone, as well as living in a completely new country with its differences in culture and everyday life. I’m generally very passionate about mental health matters and I immensely enjoy discussing this topic. Although I wasn’t sure how much new information there would be for me, I excitedly signed up anyway, seeing this as an opportunity to make connections with other Erasmus Mundus students over mental health awareness.

To say the project took place at a very right time for me would be an understatement. Every week, we discussed a new topic, from managing stress and anxiety to building positive relationships, all very relevant to life in and outside of the life in our respective Erasmus Mundus programs. The workshops allowed us to connect with people from very different backgrounds who are also going through a similar experience. In the end, although we did get a lot of valuable knowledge, it was the feeling of “Hey, I’m really not the only one feeling those things!” that helped me the most and filled me with immense gratitude at the end of each session.

Obtaining a Master’s degree is tough in itself and moving between different places and cultures is a huge challenge. Put these two things together and it seems nearly impossible at times. Having a space to share your experience and be understood is more than essential. I’m very glad I joined the project and truly hope this will not be the only time it takes place.

Phu: Comprehending mental health has always been a fascinating topic that I try to fathom. Due to personal experiences as well as the stories from the people around me, I was motivated to dig deeper into what causes mental problems and how to cope with them. And thanks to the Mindful Mundus Programme, I was able to gain useful knowledge and tips, which I can now apply to not only understand myself but also to help my family and friends.

As an international student for almost three and a half years, I encountered several mental challenges like depression, anxiety and insecurity, which are quite ubiquitous among the students. As I was fresh to these mental problems, I was frustrated not knowing what to do; they hindered me from recognizing my potential and perceiving the positive aspects of my life. Then, one day, I decided to share it with my study advisor, which then became a twist-of-turn event as I gradually felt better by practicing self-love and new hobbies.

I realized how severely damaging mental problems can be to students like me. There have been a few peers of mine who unfortunately could not overcome these problems, which, in my humble opinion, is highly-concerned. This has motivated me to take initiatives in learning more about mental problems and mental health. That is why, when I first received the announcement email about the Mindful Mundus Programme, I did not hesitate to sign up for it.

The programme introduced us to several common mental health challenges that numerous Erasmus students have gone through, namely, from depression, anxiety to intercultural competence. Not only did I have the chance to listen to the interesting experience and useful information from the speakers, but I also made some new friends from every part of the world like China, the Netherlands, India, Turkey,… Especially, from the different backgrounds, I learned more about how different cultures perceive multifaceted problems like mental health. Additionally, I was impressed by the welcoming atmosphere that the organizers managed to create; the peers were not afraid to ask questions to the speakers. The whole discussion was, as a result, an active and healthy studying environment.

Now that the program has ended, I undeniably have learned tremendous new things. I hope that the program will continue to extend and expand such that generations of Erasmus students will be able to raise the awareness of mental health and spread their knowledge to the people around them.


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