Youth exchange in Spain: about addictions, own space, ecology and “Why does someone finance it?

Once one my friend told me: “School teachs me to write nice texts. Because in school you just have to do it”. So sometimes I calm myself with idea that I “inspire” people to practice creative writing. Because asking them to write more or less interesting texts about they educational trips, places, actions, events and some reasons why it worth to go for youth exchange, training, conference or volunteering.

This time I happy to present you creative text from our participants from youth exchange on environmental topic happen in Spain.

Yaroslava:

Now I know that the feedback and impressions of the exchanges

should be written as soon as you return, or even on the way home,

when you are so anxious to sleep but still have fresh feelings.

From 6 to 13 August, a youth exchange “I’m an Environment” took place in the small Spanish city of Cercedilla, near Madrid. The event was attended by about 28 participants from 4 countries: Spain, Ukraine, Georgia and Greece.

For me, this was already the second youth exchange and the fourth Erasmus + project in general, but this is the first time I have been able to try myself as a group leader. I will not say that it is too important, responsible or honorable role, but it is mentioned constantly. It seems to me that being a group leader is the opposite of limiting yourself, constant discipline and phrases like, “You are a group leader, you mUsT follow us at the airport, this is your job”, (not really), or: “All yours in place, is anyone late? ” and so on, you get it.

Actually, about the exchange. The topic of this youth exchange was environmental protection, conservation of natural resources, the impact of climate change on our lives, the greenhouse effect and many other relevant topics. We had a very intensive program, during which we were able to work in national and mixed groups, shared the experience of our countries, thought together about the environmental problems of states and ways of solving them, discussed key issues of exchange and worked on them creatively. For example, they played the role-playing game “Earth in 2050”, where each group was given a role and had to find modern solutions to contemporary problems, or recorded videos with conscious rules about the environment or fantasies about the fate of the planet in a few years , designed and created a newspaper of the future, which gathered all the news of the entire Earth as of August 1, 2069, and so on … Even before the exchange began, I decided for myself that I wanted to find out more about how one person spent in minimal effort can do But for the planet, without deploying massive propaganda campaigns or publicity. So I gained the knowledge about waste reduction, proper sorting, recycling and / or composting of waste and a circular economy.

All these 10 days we stayed at a hostel at an altitude of more than 1200 m above sea level. It was a pleasure to breathe in the clean mountain air and to see only the endless forest around. One day, we even climbed the mountains even higher, clearing at the same time, but still there were difficulties. In the daytime, temperatures reached +30 C and at night dropped to +13 C. So, we learned how to survive in different weather conditions, to create warm, comfortable and practical looks from all available clothing to continue to enjoy communication.

By the way, about communication. This time, a surprisingly friendly team has formed at the exchange. Most of all, we, Ukrainians, hung out with the Spanish team and went on walks together, exploring the surroundings and conducting cultural exchanges, so to speak. For example, many Spaniards did not yet know that in Ukraine the war and our currency are not the euro, asked why some Ukrainians communicate with each other in Russian, although they could not understand it, asked to show photos of landscapes, dance folk dances and sing songs . We learned a great deal from them about Spain’s politics, the particularities of the area we lived in, the funny and not-so-funny legends, table and holidays traditions, national drinks and dishes, the challenges facing the modern young generation, the particularities of the higher education system etc.

Upon returning home, we were all asked to write reviews and impressions of this youth exchange of volume in one paragraph, but for me it is not possible to fit everything in such a small volume, because youth exchange is an opportunity to spend 10 days completely different life in a new unfamiliar environment, discover a different country, meet the good and bad, good and evil people, new friends and enemies … This is an event that develops the individual’s personality and broadens the frame of mind, helps to eliminate unnecessary limitations and overcome prejudice with water of anything. This is an adventure that is unknown to where it will lead. It is like a different reality, and only in it can you gain a unique, valuable experience that will not be unique to the whole universe, but will mean everything to a particular participant. And if you still don’t want to feel it, if you still doubt the truth of my words, there is a sure way to check it out – get involved in youth projects!

Inna:

7 amazing days together with the most creative team ever

Erasmus+ it is a world without any borders. The little island where there is no prejudices at all. The place – where every single person can be a person he or she is in reality and can work on those things which are very close to them. Informal and creative team members make this life even more atmospheric.  Where else if it is not on Erasmus + program participants seriously work on a cover version for Baby Shark song, or spend the whole hour cutting out the paper dolls in order to make an education cartoon to promote recycling. This program is really a wonderful possibility not only to study something new, but to live a real life of the country you travel to.

Katya:

It is possible to suffer because there are not friends, and it is possible to suffer because of friends far. And it is two different senses. But, as well as any history about an exchange or volunteering, my history is begun with the filling of questionnaire and doubts.

I was on the wonderful volunteering in Poland, sat on a bed and understood that on arrival does not gather to sit month before work at home. Alona helped that collected people on a youth exchange to Spain. Besides and a theme interested: “I am Environment”. Thought that to write: “correct ideas” or how is in fact. Wrote how is.

Time passed on all Poland one reckless Ukrainian yelled: “I go to Spain to talk about an environment!”. Yep, it was me. Rejoiced, and in a few days thoughtful, that I can say about environment maintenance. And doubts began here, but tickets were already bought.

I not alone went, therefore it was yet needed to become acquainted with all team. After a general online-conference, I feel quite not useful because people discussed who that does do, who that takes, how to divide duties, and I was quiet, consented and thought: “Why go? Will, I exactly there be needed?”. But later I realized that I also needed in a team and for people who didn’t know me yet. What is my secret? Always bring with you a corkscrew 🙂

So. One of the wonderful details of exchange: it is possible to take tickets on an airplane on a day before, to have the opportunity to see a city. We did so. Therefore I, coming home from Poland, at once washed clothing, during two days decided all questions (designed insurance, found all necessity), took off-dry things, packed in a backpack and left on an exchange.

In transit became acquainted with colleagues on happiness and understood that won this lottery. People appeared different enough, but very interesting.

We arrived in Madrid. Settled in the hostel and went to go for a walk a city. With every step, I understood, as far as there sultry. We roamed streets, melted, but we’re happy. On the next day had a spare time till evening, therefore went for a walk again.

And here the groups of Ukrainians, Greeks, Georgians, and Spaniards were taken away to Cercedilla. We went to the mountains. It is difficult even to describe, as far as I adore mountains and as far as was glad in those moments.

On arrival decided paper questions with settling in the hostel. Although not we decided, we signed only, where it is necessary, and made contact with people with that it was needed in the future to live and work on activities within a week. Exactly then I became acquainted with people that became a reason for my tears.

With a next morning all was begun. These were not boring lectures like “Here, that we did with a planet and here it is necessary to be done, that all constantly better”. We worked as chairmen: took off video; drew newspapers; conducted a role-play; participated in activities, that conducted commands from other countries; walked in mountains, in parallel garbage-collecting from the sides of a road; made useful things out of garbage; on one of the evenings presented our countries. Real team building had each evening, therefore to sleep it was no time, sad it was no time too. In such reckless rhythm, a week flew like one day.

On the last evening, I put aside all the supplies of tears. When came it is time to say goodbye to the people that became close friends for this time, restrain tears there were no chances. I am thankful all, who bravely stuck to and hugged me in tears. You stayed in my heart forever.

Everyone left in the morning. We had another day in Madrid, therefore again set in the hostel and went for a walk a city. On the next day, we were expected by a difficult flight home. Difficult, because some people became part me; that moments, what we outlived together, unique. But opinion makes happy, that is only the beginning of a large friendship with people, that did not even expect that you would be knocked down on their heads. An idea that now I have a dream and sense to go to Spain makes happy.

It is possible always to doubt in itself, not given on projects and be at a home in the zone of comfort, but why, if it is possible to outlive new experience, get new knowledge and become acquainted with people, due to that life will begin to play bright paints, will begin to sound “your” music, will begin to shine “your” stars, will get new sense.

Misha:

A little earlier I was in Spain near Cersedilla, it was very hot. Before this trip, I was puzzled, and whether to take pants, I would not want to carry extra load with me. I didn’t take it, it was the biggest mistake in my life, 12 degrees in the morning. Our hostel was in the mountains, up from little Cersedilla. The company gathered what it needed, I did not deny myself any jokes, knowing that they would understand and forgive. What did we do there? We walked along these very mountains, and so that it was a topic, we collected garbage along the road, made VERY useful things from garbage, imagined the future, looked for ways to solve environmental disasters in the future, made friends, dreamed, walked, drank a little sangria in the evening and had fun. It was an interesting adventure, I met and made friends with many interesting people, had a good time. Now such youth exchanges have become a drug for me, a week or so has passed and I am already breaking up. Thanks to everyone.

Olya:

Seven days. Four countries. Thirty participants. Hot, juicy, bright Spain. Two extra days at your own expense in Madrid. And I unfortunately don’t know what to ay about this youth exchange.

The most popular question about an youth exchange: “Why does someone finance it?” Dunno. Maybe somebody wants us to became better and make the world better. Perhaps, it is a course for total globalization and the destruction of borders.

Don’t know why someone need me to improve myself, but thanks. I appreciate you. My English became better. Skills to speak with mimic and gestures are almost perfect. See new country. New people. New feelings and emotions.

Madrid, and Spain in common, is musthave (or mustvisit) for travelers. There are many bright colorful street arts. There is tiny bar on every street corner where you can relax and drink sangria or beer. The sun ashes to the bones. Feel like a grilled chic. Always try to walk on a shadowy side of the street.

There is a great park at a downtown. So pleasant to lay on soft grass and relax. There is also pool or small lake in the park. With ducks and boats. I like, no no no, LOVE to spend time there. It’s kind of a savage place in the centre of Madrid. Small talks in the language you don’t understand are easily lulled.

By the way, about language you don’t understand. In common Spaniards don’t know English. It is confusing. Sign language without simple word correction is rather impractical. And the explanations for this are delayed. If you’re going to this country — learn the basics of Spanish and dowload an offline phrasebook. Make your arrival more pleasant.

The participants of the youth exchange, in common, are nice, responsive people. I was lucky with the Greek women I lived with in the room. Joyous open hearted persons. They explained what they said in the native language to make me more comfortable. This is sooooo cute.

The theme of the exchange was the environment and its problems. – Finally, someone named the topic J – I thought it would be boring and nothing to say, but thanks to the atmosphere, I flowed into the stream and participated actively in the discussions. Of course, without the morning game-energizer — it would be more difficult.

Every day was different, but daily schedules was the same. I learned something new: for example, deforestation is intended for control forest fires. But it should be controlled and not destroy the flora of the area.

I liked the intercultural evening, when each country presented itself. There were also delicacies. Mmmmm, suluguni with spices and honey. Jamon with bread. Halva for dessert.

I liked everything. Except for breakfast. Too much sugar and carbs per meal. And seven hours at airport Istanbul are so so. And five hours in Boryspil, generally sucks. But the host organization got us fly tickets and did not spend our money. They fed, cherish and nurture us like babies. They gave us sangria. We was taken to the bar to dance. I was dunked in an icy natural lake. So I’m thrilled. Sunny-happy and baked with a golden crust chic.

If anyone see the mistakes in my English text, please pay for my English classes or forever hold their peace. Amin!

Yaroslav:

When I was traveling to Spain, I was afraid of two things:

  1. to get sunburn;
  2. seem being not so that eco-friendly because of the toothpaste in a plastic tube.

Both of my fears did not come true.

Freeze in August in Spain – done! Thank you to Sierra de Guadarrama – the mountains in which the town of Cercedilla is located, where our youth exchange “I am Environment” took place. It was written to take warm clothes in the infopack. There won`t be bosh in infopack!

All in all, instead of eco-freaks with obsessive-compulsive disorders, I met young boys and girls who have fun and enjoy life. Moreover, I felt a little eco-freak myself (but the toothpaste in the tube is really bad: the tubes do not accept for processing).

For me, youth exchange is first and foremost an environment that is comfortable for communication and sharing experiences. A lot went beyond the main activities. Met the Spaniards, Greeks, Georgians. Well, among Ukrainians.

The intensity of this communication was chosen individually. Cultural experiences were transmitted over a bottle of beer through colorful music, dirty words and obscene anecdotes.

However, we were not only engaged in this. We played games and drew wallpapers, made short videos (sometimes clips, someone even has filmed something similar to the series). Everything were about environmental issues. Are we waiting for the end of the world or not? (And what we shoud do to avoid it).

What environmental problems do Ukraine, Georgia, Greece, Spain have?

For example, Greeks (more specifically Greek-girls, because there were no guys on their team) complain that they only recycle 40% of their household waste. (Ha! Compare to our 4%). More in common. Both among the problems and the solutions. Everyone knows about our unique problem – Chernobyl, thanks in particular to the recently filmed mini-series of NGOs. There are national and interstate programs aimed at improving the environment, with ambitious plans. And there is the personal responsibility, either the manufacturer of the packaging goods, or the official; any person, any profession.

Did we develop responsibility in ourselves during the exchange?

Rather, yes.

It is not a matter of specific knowledge, but of returning to questions about which you know, but forget.

It’s worth it.

Traveling beyond comfort, communication and relaxation is great!

And what is there, any trip is cool!

P.S. Still, thanks to the exchange (after the exchange was completed), I managed to visit the Mediterranean coast and swim in the sea. As someone said: “my extra days are my extra days” 🙂

Max:

On gladness, life of students consists not only of studies but also from the amusing pieces of life!

Can with a confidence say – if you really decided to get new unforgettable foreign vital experience – do not put aside it by tomorrow, next month or year. Begin already today!

So decide and I, sending the questionnaire for participating in a youth exchange within the framework of the program Erasmus+.

Happy – I was taken away!Thank the “European club” for a trust!

And here preparation began to meeting with new friends that interesting problem of ecology.

Already on the stage of active actions we saw  the personal interest the subjects of meeting and requirement in general communications.

Our Ukrainian group – active creative personalities, was ready to present participation of young people of Ukraine in public initiatives.

…Spain met the bright paints of the Pyrenean summer. Crisp air and mountains around, very steeply! Days flew quickly, were saturated by various events: discussed above the questions of decision of ecological problems, created animation masterpieces, sang, danced, played role plays, carried out a virtual trip in the future is ecology of planet in 50 years.

Enjoyed an evening of cultural diversity. So we lived in a friendly company of boys and girls from Georgia, Greece and Spain.

In our leisure time we had the opportunity to visit Madrid, go hiking and swim in the pool. Communication there was very interesting and extremely useful, it gave an opportunity to open the ranges of interests, get to know other cultures and learn with them to co-operate.

Time conducted in Spain, for me yet and studies at school of life. Such to the soba course of maturing, that showed to me my potential and human potential in general.

I recommend all students to try and participate in the program of exchange. It is unique experience that gives an enormous deposit for professional and own skills. It opening of new ideas, friendship and positive!

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