My international experience really took off with my year studying abroad in Lausanne, Switzerland. During this time I travelled around Europe, learnt to ski, and made friends for life from all around the world. The scenery was absolutely breath-taking, as hopefully some of the photos have captured.
The Erasmus Student Network in Lausanne facilitated an easy transition into life in Switzerland and helped me to meet other international students through events and trips they regularly organised, such as city tours and weekends away. Upon returning to my home university in Southampton, I volunteered at my own local ESN section to try and similarly help international students new to my own university. This has led to a multitude of opportunities for travel as I’ve attended international events in Greece and Italy, representing ESN UK within the much wider network of forty countries.
It is also through ESN that I heard about the opportunity to attend the Europeers training weekend in St Albans. It was so inspiring to meet so many internationally minded people from such a range of backgrounds, as until this point most similarly minded people I met would be through ESN, thus all students like me! EuroPeers opened my eyes to the vast array of opportunities available to me through the Erasmus+ program, that hitherto I had been oblivious to – assuming that after my year abroad, my time abroad was at an end for the next few years at least. I really admire and support their mission to promote Erasmus opportunities, as such things are rarely made known to younger people, especially those not in higher education. Now, I am proud to call myself a EuroPeer, and I look forward to spreading awareness of the opportunities available through Erasmus+!
Hello, it’s me, I was wondering if after all these months you’d
like to read.
Anyway, it’s me
with another blog post.
As the title may
already give away this was a prime Lake District week, and that’s
also how it started.
On Monday, I decided to get some quality
time after work in the evening. So I headed down to Portinscale to
Derwentwater Marina where the boat racks with the WCCC boats are and
took one out on the lake.
As always when I’m in a kayak on the
lake, it’s very tempting to head towards St.Herbert island, get out
of the boat and stay there for a while. Well yes, that’s exactly
what I do, to be fair, that’s what I always do. I got to relax in
the evening sun for a little while before I headed back to the Marina
through increasingly choppy water. I will definitely miss this kind
of quality time on a calm island once I leave…
Tuesday wasn’t much different in terms of outdoor activity as we got to leave the office about 2hours early, which gave me plenty of additional time in the evening. I wanted to go for a walk up Skiddaw anyway so this shorter office day came in perfectly timed. And so I did, I walked and partly even ran up Skiddaw and back down in about 3h10min, which sounds rather crazy now, considering that it took us a good 5-6h when we first walked up Skiddaw in February through heavy snow and ice-cold wind. At the same time, Emilia and a couple of friends from the Calvert Trust went down to Bassenthwaite Lake on the other side of Keswick to get out on the water for some stand-up paddling.
While Emilia was
busy playing football in another home game on Wednesday, I spend my
evening cooking and having a little bit of fermented grape juice to
treat myself after two very active evenings the previous two days.
Nothing major really
happened until Saturday, but that day we met up with Adam from the
Calvert Trust who we’d go for another hike with. It was time for a
biggy, the biggest to be precise. At least the biggest in England. We
started our hike in the late morning and slowly made our way up to
the top of Scafell Pike through the clouds and over slippy rocks and
Thanks to Adam, who is far more experienced than we are
when it comes to mountaineering and orienteering, we did not end up
lost somewhere in the clouds in the hills. Unfortunately, we
literally couldn’t see anything from the summit, but at least we
can still say we made it up to the highest mountain in England at
We closed out the
week with a very relaxed Sunday because we were way too tired from
the previous day to do anything anyway.
Well, here we are, the end of my second to last blog post. See you in two weeks for my very last one!
My Erasmus+ experience started with a teaching placement in Le Mans, France. While I was there, I had the pleasure of meeting some truly inspiring members of the younger generation, as well as unforgettable teachers and other individuals whom I hold very close to my heart even now. There, my French really flourished, and I was even able to take that with me to my second Year Abroad placement, which was studying in China.
Whilst living in Ningbo, China I travelled a lot and also had the opportunity to write in French for the Language Centre magazine. I met some lovely people who also spoke French there, as well as some during my work placement module which allowed me to help domestic students with their French.
As a French and Contemporary Chinese Studies student, I am often greeted with a shock when I tell them I speak three languages. Some even tell me that they couldn’t do such a thing themselves. If my Erasmus+ experience has taught me anything, it’s that nothing should hold you back from learning a language – not age, not background, and certainly not yourself. If you immerse yourself in a culture, there really is no limit to how much you can learn. All it takes to have a truly wonderful experience is to be willing to throw yourself into things, and have the openness that it takes to succeed.
I’m Taryn, I’m 18, and I’m interested in photography, songwriting, and activism, focusing on gender equality and climate action. Travel is something that’s close to my heart – my experiences being away from home, particularly as a solo traveller, have been what have shaped me the most significantly. I’m more independent, confident and I know myself so much better as a result of spending this time by myself, in an unfamiliar place and with unfamiliar people.
My interest in international experience really began in childhood, when I was introduced to French. I fell in love right away, picking up words and phrases that I would insist on using with anyone that I came into contact with while on family camping holidays in France. I’m lucky that I come from a family where travel abroad is something that’s valued, and although my mum wasn’t in the position to take us on holiday, my grandparents could, and because of them, my brother and I had the chance to visit France, Belgium, Holland, Norway, and Australia. At the time, I didn’t really realise how much of an impact these trips had on me, but looking back, it’s clear that those holidays are part of the reason that I’m so excited by travel.
While on holiday camping in the centre of France, I made a friendship which led to one of the best experiences of my life. I was 15, she was 10, and she was patient with me, helping me to communicate in French, explaining things where she could – despite studying the language at GCSE, I still found that I had a lot of difficulty expressing myself. We spent a week playing together, and at the end of it, her mum had a chat with me and said that I’d be welcome to go stay with them at their house in Normandy to continue learning French. I was given their address and their phone number and then they left.
It took two years to convince my mum to let me go.
But after spending a year going on short trips around the UK to attend conferences and summer schools and training courses, with no real disaster along the way, I finally booked my tickets to France at the end of December.
The journey was an adventure in itself! I was on the ferry overnight, arriving in Dieppe at 4.30am, with a train booked at 5.30am. After two changes and a conversation with a nice French guy called Ali, I rocked up in Cherbourg, where the family was waiting for me at the end of the platform. They took me up to the top of a hill to see all of Cherbourg. It was beautiful. I felt welcome.
For two weeks, I spoke only in French. We ate together, went on walks together, and met their friends and family – the grandparents and cousins and aunts and uncles. I come from a family that’s pretty small, and we don’t tend to do much together – for those two weeks, I was pretty much adopted by them, experiencing what it was like to live as part of a bigger unit. I got to go to a French house party, meeting French teenagers, counting down to the New Year in French, running outside on the lawn while fireworks exploded over our heads. We cooked together, and I introduced them to vegan food, serving dahl one day and curry the next – in return, they told me stories in French and shared their home and their lives with me. Over those two weeks, I was the happy recipient of more cheek kisses than I’d had in the rest of my (then) seventeen years.
This trip showed me how kind and generous strangers can be, and how quickly you can form bonds with people that transcends language. Despite having studied French to A’ Level standard, I still struggled with making myself understood in the way I wanted and this experience made me realise how it must feel for people who are displaced, living in countries that are unfamiliar and not their own. During this time, I learned to love the unfamiliar, to embrace the feeling of displacement, and it was this feeling that helped me better understand things about myself. Returning home, I found a new love for everything familiar and comforting, and I was more aware of the things I take for granted – like my own personal space.
I’m still in touch with the whole family, and plan to go back while I’m off on my gap year! It was a truly incredible experience – being immersed in a different culture is life-changing, and the distance from my own world allowed me to gain a better sense of perspective on myself and my identity. For anyone looking to do something similar, I’d totally recommend applying for Erasmus+ or the European Solidarity Corps programmes – there’s lots more information about applying to these on the EuroPeers website.
My first experience with the Erasmus Programme was taking part in the exchange to Greece in March 2011, which was a part of the Comenius Socrates programme. The theme of the project was “Help yourself – find happiness by helping others” and there were five countries participating in it: Poland, Spain, Sweden, Greece and Bulgaria.
I remember when I heard about the project for the first time, it was my senior year of junior school in Poland, but I immediately knew that I want to be involved in this adventure. Not only did I see it as an opportunity to improve my English, but also to travel abroad and make new friends from different countries.
After a few months of volunteering and different tasks, my teacher told me that, along with nine other students, I was chosen to go for an exchange to Chalkida in Greece. I remember how happy and excited I was. I knew that the best is yet to come.
Taking part in the project and going to Greece changed my life. I have met so many inspiring people and made friends for a lifetime. Sharing stories, experiences, and cultures, made me realise how amazing the world is and how much it has to offer. I have improved my English by practising it with my new friends and decided to embrace my perspectives on an international level. During these few days, I have realised my new dream – one day I want to study abroad. Today I am a third-year student at Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh, so I can reassure everyone, that dreams do come true if you are determined to achieve them
Somehow it has been nearly 3 months since I arrived in Hungary. Time is running…
One of the things that hadn’t actively crossed my mind before my EVS was the possibility to travel further than the place I was based in. I thought Debrecen, Hungary was the destination of my adventure, but it has unravelled to be the starting point for many more. Perhaps I was lucky in that on arrival I could immediately join the momentum of travel of the other volunteers, as we all share this sense of worldly curiosity.
Our exploration has so far been within the country and across its borders to Romania and Serbia. Having always lived and enjoyed living by the sea, one of my hesitations about Hungary was its landlockedness. However, its geographical position and its many neighbours has brought forward this possibility to travel. And in the meantime, a trip to the biggest and nearest lake does the job good enough.
Weekends have been perfect opportunities for tastes of places. Debrecen is essentially a big village, so when in need of the chaos of a city, Budapest is only a few hours on a direct train away. On the other hand, sometimes we have left the “Big Village” to go to a smaller village such as Tokaji – in this case we were motivated by its reputation for wine (more specifically it is well known for sweet wine…although I’m more of a dry wine fan…wine is wine…and saying that even the Hungarian standard for dry wine is sweet).
Our search to find a landscape that gives something back (Hungary is so flat) has led us, on more than one occasion, to Romania. Most recently we hired two cars and headed in the direction of the Carpathian Mountains. Now I’ve driven up high in another country, in the dark, on the wrong-right side of the road, and with fog….I feel like I can drive anywhere(ish). Other encountered firsts include e.g. on our way back at some ungodly hour at night/in the morning when we came to crossing into Hungary, the border was closed. It was easily resolved as we travelled further to a 24/7 crossing point but I had no idea and found it strange that borders shut in the same way as e.g. Tesco supermarket, and you have to go searching for the nearest non-stop shop so you can get some milk in your tea.
Mainly, because of the experiences shared there and its incredible landscape, Romania has fast become one of my favourite countries (side note: although this love for the country doesn’t extend to its politics ect….). So much so that on these trips, it has been the few times I’ve put down the camera so I can fully “be there”. And now, with Christmas break broaching, in true festive spirit we have made plans to continue visiting other bordering neighbours!
Events, events and events – this is what EuroPeersUk and Youth Action International have on their agenda all the time.
This time in Birmingham, two EuroPeersUK and Youth Action International delegates participated in ‘Stand Out in a Global Market’, an event organised by EurodeskUK on the 23rd of October.
We had the pleasure of meeting many people from across the UK whose stories and insights were very inspirational and impactful. An informal group of young people, Erasmus students, NGO leaders and many more joined the network and shared their experiences in order to help others be more aware of how beneficial these international opportunities are.
Many thanks to EuroPeersUK and EurodeskUK for the event, and as for Birmingham, we’ll see the beautiful city again in November when we’ll participate in the Impact+ Seminar.
I had no idea what to expect from Hungary. I’d never been to Central Europe before and knew nothing of either the culture or the climate. As it turned out, they’re both pretty welcoming this time of year.
It was my second APV so I went in with more understanding of what to expect. A big part of what I learned though is that it’s a little different every time. Our host organisation was a long-term Momentum World partner, Fekete Sereg, based in rural northwestern Hungary in the village of Nagyvázsony.
Nope, it’s not pronounced how it looks.
Anna and David met us at the airport in Budapest, representatives from seven different organisations across Europe. After quick introductions, we piled into a minibus and headed out of the city, as the last of the sun bobbed blood orange, to a restaurant where tables were pushed together to accommodate us.
Before our meals had arrived we’d already enjoyed a round of pálinka, the traditional fruit brandy of Hungary renowned for its all-to-predictable potency. It certainly gets the conversation flowing. I always think how great it is to look around a table and see completely new faces, from countries near and far, united by a common passion. It makes me feel distinctly that I am at the right time and place and all the most important things in the world are happening right there and then.
It was a double-APV, two short-term EVS exchanges for three and eight weeks respectively, where volunteers would work closely with local formal and non-formal education facilities, including the youth club where Fekete Sereg has its office.
The APV ran back to back with a two-day conference designed to augment the APV experience. But we weren’t the only ones invited; it was open to the public and numerous locals joined us, alongside invited guest speakers from Budapest and beyond. The furthest afield came from the town of Pradera in Colombia; the Mayor in fact.
This meant that translation was going to be a major consideration, but the Fekete Sereg team had anticipated such and were trialling a clever system where either David or Anna would translate directly into our ears through a headset. It worked well, apart from the huge mental strain on whoever was translating!
We enjoyed some interesting speeches from a varied range of guests, from a Hungarian diplomat who started his international story with Fekete Sereg, to the very first EVS volunteer the organisation hosted over ten years ago, to a Hungarian National Agency representative shedding light on the upcoming metamorphosis of EVS to ESC (European Solidarity Corps).
The Mayor of Pradera helped remind us all that as much as we face challenges in engaging with today’s youth, there are those who face greater challenges every day and still succeed.
I also checked in with Harry, our current EVS volunteer living in Nagyvázsony, who’s doing very well, living in a share house with two other EVS volunteers from Germany and Austria. Harry was responsible for documenting the conference, to be used as an educational and a promotional resource for Fekete Sereg.
Before I knew it, my trip was coming to an end. It was a beautiful five-day bubble, turning the clock back on the waning summer, if only for a little while. It’s rewarding to maintain strong relations with our pre-existing partners, Fekete Sereg, putting faces and personalities to email addresses. Equally valuable is it to lay the foundations for new relationships with organisations across Europe. A strong network will be a bulwark against the coming turbulence which Brexit will cause. Lastly, it is always a blessing to step foot in a new land for the first time, to see one more corner of our beautiful world, to see the mountains and the trees and the sky and to see, most of all, that the people smile the same way we do.
I would like to thank everybody for their support making 2017 very positive year so far for Europeers. So much has happened in a short space of time and 2018 promises to be even more exciting. Our cordinator Olga has been working very very hard to bring the network to a much wider audience, and our two interns Mathis and Joanna in the north-west office based in Keswick will be pushing Europeers in new directions. let us keep the energy and passion going – Paul Oxborough (Creative Director Momentum World)
Hello! My name is Rita originally from Egypt… Before I tell you about EuroPeers UK, you need to know that if you are reading this now means you are now on EuroPeers UK website and now you are very lucky!
Anyway, let’s get this started!
Two months ago, I received an email from my overseas manager (my manager always wanted us to make the most of our placements). She heard of the Europeers UK network and sent us the training opportunities to join, share experiences and get a lot in return.
To be honest, I applied because I always wanted to visit Cardiff and so I said “Yeah, Why not? Let’s go..!!” What I found out later was much more exciting than just visiting Cardiff (No offense Cardiff, you are my love <3)
I met different people from different countries, with different traditions, speaking various languages and with different accents. I also met two experienced trainers who have been all around the world. The trainers introduced us to one another and made us feel welcome. What they also did; they made us believe that the world doesn’t stop where we think it does, it opened our minds and eyes to things that we never knew existed with activities such as “skills you have but you never knew you had”. They made us aware of opportunities, other networks, all that with lots and lots of fun, laughs, games and stories.
I won’t be able to explain it all, but if you are a young person somewhere out there, Europeers UK will make sure that you have an opportunity to share your experiences with other young people in your community and in the world. So what are you waiting for… www.europeers.uk – Written by Europeer Rita
We have kept busy, kicking off with our training at Brunel University last month, followed by the course in Cardiff. We are extremely happy to see young people join us for a few intensive days of learning, sharing international experiences, gaining confidence in their abilities and purely enjoying themselves.
Thank you to all of you who have joined us for the journey thus far.
Both these events are merely starting points, from which our network will expand, and grow into something with a vibrant presence throughout the UK.
Our young people, now fully fledged EuroPeers, have proved to be an active bunch ready to learn from one another, organise themselves, and put their ideas into practice.
As always we are here to inspire your creative minds and encourage your active involvement. There are volumes of opportunities out there waiting for you. EuroPeers UK are here to connect you to new people, places, experiences and help you along the way.
24-27 JULY, Wales 4-7 SEPTEMBER, England (near London)
Spend 3 days with a group of other motivated young people. Share your European story, learn how to be an active EuroPeer, and have some fun. You'll get immediate opportunities to put learning into practice and organise your own local activities after the course, and to volunteer for leadership positions.
These are fully residential courses (shared rooms) with all meals included. Courses are free but there is a small deposit which you'll get back when you run your first activity.
All courses are open to participants age 18-25 from anywhere in the UK, We can also consider people age 16-18, subject to parental consent.
HOW TO APPLY
Please message us or email: email@example.com
18 young people are at Brunel University all this week being trained to become Europeers and pass on the message that the international experience changes your life and makes you more employable – watch out for a training course near you