What if you had the chance to change your life’s perspective in a multicultural environment? What if you could find various ways to escape from the stressful routine?
This is what we did. 30 european youngsters from Slovenia, Hungary, Lithuania, Greece, Italy, Bulgaria and Spain in the Slovenian town Murska Sobota. We arrived on the 30th of August and until the 7th of September we have been exploring the topic: “Stress relief”, through different activities. The project was an Erasmus+ Youth Exchange organised by the Slovenian NGO “Move it”.”
“A quick guide on how to find your true colours
Let’s say you are young, open-minded and eager for adventure… You want to travel abroad and get to know other cultures, expand your horizon and learn new things? But oh, travelling is expensive, overwhelming to plan, and scary for some. We have an amazing proposal for you-Erasmus+ !
Erasmus+ youth in action programme offers a wide variety of exchanges that aim to get people from different countries together in a unique location and explore a common theme, share their knowledge and improve their competencies. This occurs through many activities like workshops, discussions, reflections, simulations, outdoor activities, assignments, games, excursions and lots more. All you have to do to apply as a participant is to be between 13- 30 years young, but don’t worry if you aren’t, you can still apply as a group leader which has no age limit. Usually, English is the main official language, so it would be good if you know a little bit of it. I’m sure you’re wondering about the price of all this… Well, it’s for free! Travel costs are reimbursed up to a certain amount and the accommodation and food are fully covered! You’d think it’s too good to be true, that there has to be a catch, but there isn’t one. These youth exchanges are funded by the European Commission and European Union, and last from 10 to 21 days. The projects can take place anywhere within Europe or partnering countries.
For us, the opportunity to apply for the project, Find Your True Colours was too good to miss. It took place in the land of Slovenia (the land of dragons) and had 40 participants from Italy, Greece, Bulgaria, Hungary, Spain, Lithuania and Slovenia.
During our short and amazing stay in the 14th century castle in Rakičan, we had workshops that introduced us to different topics and activities to help us gain a better understanding on what stress is and how to deal with it. Some of these included animal therapy, where we had the chance to work with horses and feel their healing power. Another was Ohm and Qigong Meditation where we explored how to affect the energy within our bodies and eliminate stress. We learned how doing these as a group can be even more beneficial and fulfilling. We also looked into the importance of physical exercise on stress through hikes, manufacturing things with our hands like gardening, making spreads, anti-stress balls and herbal mixtures. One of the activities was about the creative side of theatre. We had to behave according to given scripts and tune in to what animal we related to most. This was emotional and freeing at the same time, as we could go outside our comfort zone and not care about how we looked on the side.
We had the opportunity to visit the nearby town of Morska Sobota through a city run, which included taking pictures with all the major sights and locals. In this way we were able to familiarise ourselves with the Slovenian environment and see first-hand just how organised and beautiful the city is.
At the first evening every country made food stands, where everyone had the chance to taste the delicacies of each and get to know one another. Every evening two countries presented their homelands and showcased their history, folklore, dances and cuisine. Most, made games and quizzes with prizes at the end to encourage our competitive side and test the extent of our memory. This intercultural environment was really special and helpful to learn some phrases, break stereotypes and have fun.
In the end, the time flew by too fast but the connections and knowledge we each gained are a true treasure. The Erasmus + experience is something that everyone should try at least once, but beware, almost everyone falls in love with the process. The non-formal way of education combined with the intercultural environment flourishes and touches everyone in their own and special way.
So now it’s your turn. There are usually Facebook groups and webpages of the many organisations to showcase projects happening all around Europe and beyond. What are you waiting for?
- Mladenka, HIŠA VZHAJAJOČEGA SONCA
This project is funded by Erasmus+