So after two years of grand travel plans, having a little change of heart 11,000 miles from home, and a couple of expensive flight tickets later, on the 1st of October, I somehow found myself once again with my life packed into a suitcase headed for the southern Polish city of Wrocław.
I should probably rewind to explain how I became a EuroPeer, around 2 years ago. After my first Erasmus experience on a study abroad semester in Sweden, I was hooked. And in a serendipitous twist of fate, I was searching online for more Erasmus opportunities and stumbled across the first EuroPeers UK training course, way back in 2017.
The initial training course itself was an education. I knew what an Erasmus exchange was, but what was this ‘Erasmus+’ that everyone was talking about? After only a few days, I suddenly had opened the door to a whole new world of exchanges, training, volunteering opportunities, and more. What’s more, I was receiving all of this information firsthand, from my fellow trainees sharing their memorable Erasmus+ experiences with me.
It wasn’t too long before I’d taken part in my very first Youth Exchange, attended some EuroPeers UK meetings, squeezing in a trip to Strasbourg for EYE2018, and ended off the year with a visit to Estonia for the 2018 network meeting. Flashforward to November 2019, and I’ve somehow been living and volunteering in Poland for over a month.
I volunteer with an NGO called Europejskie Forum Młodzieży (EFM), in the south-western Polish town of Bystrzyca Kłodzka, and currently, live with around 18 other volunteers from various nations across Europe and even a couple of volunteers from South America. Transitioning from a transient period of solo travel to suddenly being immersed in a large, vibrant, and busy environment has been somewhat of a bit of a culture shock. On the other hand, being able to share this experience with so many different people means you never feel lonely.
Whilst some are volunteering in local schools, museums, and a community centre, my project is centred within the office itself. In the past month, I have assisted with facilitating a Youth Exchange, helping to deliver a non-formal training course to Polish school-age teenagers (YouthMaSter), planning some local projects with my fellow volunteers, and generally a bit of anything and everything that comes my way in the office.
Looking forward to November, I’m really excited to start my Polish language lessons, attend my on-arrival training in Warsaw, and learn more about Poland. Receiving my schedule for November and December, I can already see that the next few months will go by very quickly, so more than anything else I’m trying to make the most of each day and every new opportunity.