As the UK embarks on the most complex series of discussions ever undertaken, the outcome of which will significantly define the future of our country, I will always keep in mind the contagious energy, passion and hope of all the local students I met last year and the millions of younger people across the UK. They are looking for a voice to defend their life chances. We will do our utmost to deliver.
Erasmus will always be a leap of faith, immersing yourself in the unknown, hoping that it will lead to adventure, rewards, and unique experiences. It won't be for everyone. Putting yourself out of your comfort zone so starkly in foreign lands is no mean feat. But no matter what you'll learn that adventure is out there, the world is vast and ready to be travelled whenever you are.
Surprise surprise, you're not fluent in French yet. A year abroad is supposedly the best experience you'll ever have. You've heard rumours of fresh croissants for breakfast in Paris, envisaged yourself becoming a pro-surfer in Australia, and you can't wait to update your Facebook status to "moved to Italy".
As a young British European, the European Union facilitated my own aspirations to study abroad and do more than my parents and sister could ever dream of for me. The value I have derived from spending 12 months in another country and knowing I was one of the first in my family to attempt doing so was an important part of my life, and it has been priceless for myself and other working-class students.
Once the reality of living in Paris hit home, the cost of doing so brought such excitement to a brief halt. It turns out, your year abroad differs greatly from your holiday; euros are not Monopoly money and now you have to buy washing up liquid. Therefore, jumpers from your netball club, whose only appeal is their impressive Parisian logo are a no-go. Below are some tips for doing Paris on a budget, as your home or your holiday.
"Scrounging foreign students clog up OUR unis at YOUR expense" ... By contributing to Erasmus through its share of the EU budget Britain gets in return more money for its universities, grants for foreign travel for its students, as well as the priceless diplomatic and cultural gains to be had through such exchanges.
So you've just had the best year of your life. Literally the best. You've met some amazing people, had so many unique experiences and seen some incredible things... The trouble is, the whole world isn't that interested... Now you're back in your dull, non-life changing native country, it's time to learn how to fit back in.
I want a positive, ambitious Britain, open to Europe and the world. I want us to value the contribution of everyone who makes their home here. There are valid concerns on both sides, but let's not blame each other. Let's discuss the issues and find solutions together. Please use your vote on 22 May. These elections are about your future!
Those fundamentally opposed to the EU say we should turn our backs on the world and become more inwardly focused. But Liberal Democrats believe that the best way to increase opportunities for young people is by having a strong voice in Brussels and working together with our European neighbours. Ukip offer nothing to young people; leaving the EU would reduce job opportunities in the UK and take away their right to work, study or train freely in 27 other European countries, including through Erasmus+.
One of the major perks of my year abroad programme (and many others) is that it doesn't actually count towards my final grade at University which means it's basically like fresher's (except the food is better and you can go skiing when you want. ) Use your spare time wisely and take some time to tour...