Alexandra tells the story of her Erasmus+ journey - from Germany to Scotland via Ukraine, Kosovo, Bulgaria and Russia. She has caught the Erasmus+ bug and now believes that travelling is something every young person should try.
My Erasmus+ journey started in 2015 after I had just graduated from school. For a long time I had known that I would like to take a gap year to go abroad but many of the options would not have been affordable. When I found out about the European Voluntary Service, I immediately knew that it was the right programme for me, as it is fully funded and one of the most organised and safe ways of living abroad. My dream was to do my volunteering placement in England and I was very lucky to find the perfect project at the High Oak Youth and Community Centre in Dudley. I got to spend the six happiest months of my life so far. It was the first time I was living away from home, I shared a house with my fellow volunteers from Spain, Austria, Turkey and Hungary. It was a completely new experience and I have learned things I would have never been able to learn at school.
After the end of my volunteering placement, I travelled to Edinburgh for a few days to visit two volunteers I had met on our on-arrival training. I fell in love with the beautiful city and realised that I wasn’t ready to leave the UK yet, so I spontaneously decided to apply for university there, although I had just missed the application deadline. Luckily I still got accepted, so in October I moved to Edinburgh to study Film and Media for four years. If I hadn’t done my European Voluntary Service I would have never even considered studying in Scotland, so I can genuinely say that my EVS changed my life completely.
During my EVS I got the Erasmus+ bug and it turned out that it was just the beginning of my journey. Since then I have taken part in inspiring youth exchanges and training courses in the UK, Ukraine, Kosovo, Bulgaria and Russia. I got to spend amazing weeks with people from all over Europe and I have learned a lot about different cultures without spending much money. Erasmus+ enabled me to be connected to people in many different countries and to share precious memories with them. And I got to see remote places I would never have visited otherwise as well as breath-taking cities like Saint Petersburg.
These experiences made me really passionate about Erasmus+, so I decided to join EuroPeers UK, a network of young people who share their Erasmus+ experiences with other young people and encourage them to take part in the programme. In September 2017 I attended the EuroPeers training course and learned more about presentation methods that can be used for activities at schools, youth clubs, NGOs, fairs and different kind of events.
As EuroPeers UK is run by Momentum World, I became interested in their work and I got the opportunity to do an internship at the organisation’s office in London. During my internship I have learned a lot about international project management and about organising events. One of my main tasks was to help organising the Future Europe Future You Conference in London. The actual conference was run by almost 40 participants from 16 different countries who took part in a residential training just before the conference. Seeing how the whole event came together was really exciting, and being able to hold such an inspiring event at Europe House was a unique experience for me.
A few years ago I would have never thought that I would have the opportunity to do an internship in London that would provide me with even more opportunities. I can’t wait to continue my journey with Erasmus+ and I am looking forward to more adventures that lie ahead of me. I believe it is an experience every young person should have.
Youth story written by Alexandra, Europeers UK.