Category Archive : friendship

Youth Exchange „Di5connected“ – Cortemilia/Italy

disconnection from technologies – reconnection with our 5 senses 
9 days without an internet connection.
9 days without smartphones.
9 days without the laptop.
9 days without a watch.
9 days without social media.
Are you ready?

The description of the project doesn’t sound like an experience we are living everyday. Exciting and a bit worrying at the same time.

Like a blind dance: What will expect us in Cortemilia

Nevertheless or just because of that 25 young people from Croatia, Italy, Romania and Austria gathered in beautiful Cortemilia (Italy) and took part in this Erasmus+ project. The Youth Exchange took place from 18th to 26th of April and was organized by Associazone Vagamondo and their partner organisations.

Ready to be disconnected? Locking up our technical devices

The week turned out to be full of learning, low moments, reflection, sharings, challenges, singing, dancing, conversations, creativity, enjoying the beautiful venue, tasty food, the smell of biscotti di nocciola (hazelnut cookies), massages, laughing and reactivating our 5 senses. But most of all it was full of magical moments.

The “real” social network

During this project we created a “real” social network and enjoyed the positive impact it had on our wellbeing. Despite of the fact that in the beginning a lot of us were struggling with locking up their technical devices, most of us were almost sad when we got the technologies back at the end of the week. Luckily, we created a great a support system in order to stick to our goals and to implement what we have learned in our daily lives.

Di5connected contract – support system for achieving our goal back at home
Get an impression what the Austrian team experienced there:

#my expectations before the project

As I signed up for the project, excited and curious as to how it will be and what kind of people will the students be I generally had the feeling that it’ll be somewhat energy draining, peaceful because of the absence of technology, refreshing and highly enjoyable.

Reading through the posts on Facebook before the beginning of the project I can safely say that I had a glimpse of what it’ll be like with the others in this project and so my expectations were reshaped due to that.

Mohammed

#what it feels like being disconnected

Being disconnected felt strange for me at first. It didn’t really realize that I had given my phone away until the next morning when I automatically reached for it to turn off the alarm. Only that it wasn’t there. Throughout the first day I had these urges to check my phone regularly, but from the second day on I started to enjoy this freedom from technologies, and maybe also responsibilities.

Without technologies, I was much more aware of my surroundings. I started paying attention to small details, such as the flowers in the grass or this particular texture of wood. It also allowed me to be more attentive when it came to getting to know other people, because there was no distraction for both parties. Not having a phone allowed me to give the people I was talking to (and also the sessions that we had) my full attention, I listened more carefully and paid more attention to what people said and how they behaved. But what impressed me the most was how creative we got, both when it came to completing tasks (e.g. preparing the national evening, creating a board game, …), but also when it came to free time entertainment. We couldn’t just google things and have it the easy way when we wanted to know certain things, we had to use our brains, imagination and memory in order to remember the lyrics of a song or what the beard of DJ Ötzi looks like. It is impressive how much you actually remember when there is no small machine that gives you all the answers you want (but not necessarily need) instantly.
Marion


Cultural evening: The Austrian showed the best aspects about their culture by presenting the “Musikantenstadl”

#what I’ve learned during the YE

Being one week without ‘technologies’ thought me a lot more things than I had expected. It was a very intense time because as I was open for the different quality of living. I realised how much I was missing because of the frequent distraction of my phone. I learned that waking up and starting the day with a calm moment in the nature instead of checking WhatsApp and YouTube lifted my day to a completely different level. In general, I relearned how much confidence and strength the nature is giving to me! Furthermore, I realised what a huge negative influence technologies have on my social relationships between me and the people around me. In this week I got to know 25 people on such a deep level, I would need at least 2 month for that if I’d have my phone with me all the time. It was really great to have such a close community where people speak and laugh instead of watching their phones. Except that I learned how I lack concentration if I have a ‘normal’ day with technology. It was really nice to see again how fast I can learn if I really concentrate on something and how creative I can be if I give 100% of me. In general I can say that I learned how the technology sometimes keeps me from having the best time possible because it disconnects me from my surroundings and that creates a bad feeling over a long period. I didn’t know that a certain unhappiness comes from my ‘daily abuse’ of technology but know I’m a aware of that and I will feel it directly if it comes back!

Gregor

#my magical moment

My magical moment? Well, that was a question I had to answer myself almost everyday. A moment, that is still in my mind, was the moment we created our own board game “Game of phones”. Thinking about it, I still get excited.

Antonia

Disconnection woke up our creativity: Presentation of “Game of phones” – our fantastic board game

#how I will apply what I have learned

The experience and the knowledge that I gained during this youth exchange is life changing for me in the matter of how i see the connection between me and technology in my daily life.
I have set some goals for myself that I am going to achieve on a certain date. Hopefully, these will become part of my lifestyle. I will be creative without using technology and will be doing things that I never thought I could do (like when we invented a sound and the board game during the YE) It was mind blowing after I realised what I am capable of so much more than I thought and I am certain that I would have never believed that i have such skills if I hadn’t participated in this YE.

By avoiding technology in my daily life:
I have a greater level of presence
Deeper and more meaningful conversations
Increased productivity
I started doing outdoor sports and
I am getting to know myself better
Probably at some point I am going to forget what we did during this YE but I will never forget how it made me feel and the impact that it had on me.

Samire

Together we mastered all the challenges

A big thank you to everyone who made this experience possible – especially to the project team with Fabiano, Fabrizio and Merche!

Here you can find out more about the project and the participants:

http://di5connected.simplesite.com/

That post caught your attention and you can’t wait to learn more?

Keep informed – we are looking forward to meet you on our follow-up event 🙂

All the best,

your Austrian team

Antonia, Marion, Gregor, Mohammed, Samire and Elisa


Elisa & Ibrahim

Elisa

Hi, my name is Elisa and I am from Deutschlandsberg. I am 21 years old and I study Sustainable Food Management at the FH Joanneum in Graz. In my free time I enjoy organizing and taking part in Erasmus plus projects, doings sports like mountain biking, travelling and spending time with my friends and family. I also love being in the nature, cooking and Spanish and Italian language.

What do I like about youth projects?
My first project was the European Voluntary Service in Santiago de Compostela. It was an amazing year and the start of my “Erasmus life”. Taking part in these kind of projects gives me a lot of new perspectives of life, makes me meet amazing people, allows me to travel all over Europe and encourages me to develop myself. Organizing Youth Projects gives me the opportunity to share all that with young people and to give back what I receive.

What have I experienced by taking part in Youth Projects?
I experienced how diverse Europe is and how many things we have in common. I experienced that stepping out of my comfort zone can lead to great results and is definitely worth it. I experienced that there are a lot of people who follow their dreams and work everyday on their goals they want to reach – and that I can do that as well. I experienced that strangers become friends in a couple of days and spend an amazing time learning together.

Why am I part of wEUnite and who told me about it ?
This summer I applied for a project in which wEUnite was the Austrian partner. So I met Nina for a chat over a cup of coffee. We immediately grew sympathy for each other and were all sure that our collaboration would turn out to be successful. I hope to collaborate with wEUnite in a lot of projects in the future.

Ibrahim

Ahoi ! My name is Ibrahim. I`m 23 and I live and study in the beautiful, chill city of Klagenfurt. I`m a psychology student who likes to read in empty libraries, working out when the gym is not so crowded and to sleep when it’s snowing cats and dogs outside. For the time being, getting my bachelor and other self-improvement activities are the center of my attention.

What do I like about youth Projects?
I love the diversity of people and their Ideas and World-views. People and their stories are very interesting for me as there`s always an idea, a though or a perspective that’s new to me. I also love how relatively fast one can make life-long friendships during projects. I met amazing people and I know that there is still new and interesting people for me to meet.

What have I experienced by taking part in youth projects?
Its very hard to express what I experienced in youth projects. Shortly said, I`ve experienced self-development, meeting great people and learning from them.

Why am I part of wEUnite and who told me about it?
My amazing friend Tini introduced me to a wEUnite project that tackled a very interesting topic, which was youth leadership. The Project`s Title was “Desire to inspire” and it was the first project that I took part on with wEUnite and that proved to be a very good decision.

Matthias & Magdalena

Hey. My name is Matthias and I’ve spent most of my 27 years of age studying computer science and mathematics. At the moment I work as a Data Scientist at Catalysts and I will at some later point go back to university to pursue a PhD. I love playing, watching and discussing football, I adore many old French movies and more recently I have started to very much enjoy film photography. I also do and care about many other things.


What do I like about youth projects?
They represent an endless source of opportunity. Opportunities to learn new things you didn’t know you want to learn. Opportunities to meet open people from all over the world. Opportunities to travel to new places that you had never even considered.


What have I experienced by taking part in YPs?

I’ve met many fantastic people from all over the world. All of them kind, open minded and interesting in their very own way. I learned many things about myself. For some of them I am unsure if I would have been able to learn them by myself.

Why am I part of wEUnite and who told me about it?
By pure chance I met Manuel G. one evening. Almost immediately he invited me to a project that was about to start in a few weeks from then. I was in a spontaneous mood and so I agreed without understanding what any of this was about. It turned out great, the lesson here is to always trust strangers.

Hello lovely People! I’m Magdalena, I’m currently 19 years old & live in Vienna! I study social work & besides that I would call myself a political activist. What I enjoy in my free time? Good discussions, food, friends & sports ( Cross fit & Yoga).

What do I like about Youth Projects?
First the most obvious part: getting to know new People, new countries, new languages, new traditions.. and so on. However, apart from that: getting to know myself better, especially in challenging situations.

What have I experienced by taking part in Youth Projects?
Ups & downs, tears & laughters, foreigners becoming friends.

Why am I part of wEUnite and who told me about it?
Establish connections, gain experience, create & be part of a beautiful movement. And I got to know about it from a friend.

Music makes feelings – Rijeka

From 3rduntil 9th of March wEUnite had the pleasure to take part in the second part of the Youth Exchange “I feel good” which was called “Music Makes Feelings” organized by Syncro Synergy Croatia. As the title already says, the participants explored their experiences and feelings about all that has to do with music while being in the beautiful city of Rijeka. Pato, Tini, two Manuels, Marion and Nina started their journey to Croatia with lots of motivation and enthusiasm. And they came back happy and with many new songs stuck in their head! 

The first day started with great teambuilding activities in the sun. After finding all the seven dragon balls the participants could make a wish. They chose Karaoke, and magically, their wish was granted later that week!
Apart from nightly jam sessions and cool activities in the hostel, the participants got the chance go to the city as a group. Half of them visited RiRock, an organisation that helps to connect youngsters with music through music lessons and providing them with places where they can practise, and the other half Radio Rijeka. Both trips were really interesting and everyone was happy sharing their impressions later in the big group.
Another great experience was the flashmob that took place in the centre of Rijeka. It started with everyone standing frozen on a spot and then being “defrosted” by the tunes of “Don’t Worry Be Happy” played on the clarinet. The joyful atmosphere was enhanced by the sunny weather, and later everyone gathered for a picture.
During “I feel good” the participants did not only learn about music and feelings, but also about different countries and cultures, numerous languages, their personal strengths and weaknesses (enhanced by acting out all Youthpass key competences during the city rally in Rijeka), the idea behind those Erasmus+ projects, and most importantly: they made friends. Spending a whole week with 30 people from officially 5 (but really more) different nations makes you see the world from different angles and understand opinions that differ from yours. You learn so much about others but also about yourself and your country as you talk about all the similarities and differences in your free time. (Which was always a lot of fun, as you can see on the pictures below).

Now each member of the Austrian team will share their thoughts on the Youth Exchange:

Nina:

Music makes feelings – what a beautiful title for an amazing youth exchange. Being in Rijeka again with many people I had the pleasure to meet before and also lots of new faces was simply great! Never have I seen a group of strangers grew together to such a strong team this fast. Having been part of it makes me feel proud. This experience and all the memories will stay with me for a very long time 🙂

Tini:

It’s hard to describe this week in just a few sentences. I learned a lot about myself and experienced what it is like to be dragged out of my comfort zone right into the stress zone. But life starts where the comfort zone ends. I’m very thankful that I got the opportunity to improve myself and got inspired to try new things that used to scare me. This week in Croatia made me a better person 🙂

Marion:

This was only my second Youth Exchange, but I could feel from the beginning that we all would have a great time together. Our group dynamic was just so purely friendly and full of positive energy. When thinking about it now, I feel really grateful to have been part of it and to have shared happy and sad feelings with such wonderful people.

Pato:

This YE was something very special. I think it was one of the greatest experiences that I could have ever had. Creating music out of nothing with people who are unique in every different way you can imagine. Starting from the first day on we all shared a deep connection together. It was being open-hearted and open-minded. In fact, it didn’t take us a day to learn all those names by heart just because we were so different. Some played an instrument, some didn’t. Some had their funny dance workshops some had their own private time with a companion at the seaside. And everybody was still part of this amazing group. We were one big amount of kindness and amazingness.

Manuel E.:

Never have I ever … felt so emotional on a project. This Youth Exchange was not only interesting or just a good idea. It was timeless and sometimes breathtaking. Now I know that music truly makes feelings. 

Manuel G.:

After this project I really believe that “Music Makes Feelings”. Within this awesome week with so many great and lovely people, I learned and experienced a lot that helped me to grow once more. I feel so much better, so much more motivated and so much more positive than ever before. I am still overwhelmed by all these wonderful memories in my head. A big thanks and a lot of hugs to every single one of you! You made this project very special to me!

Friendships around Europe

What’s the best way to start into a new year? For me personally, it’s by having fun, meeting friends and travelling. It is even better to combine these things – that’s why I started the year 2017 in exactly that way – having fun with my friends in a different country!


Anna (from Latvia) and me decided to meet up in Budapest, as she was on her way back to Zagreb/Croatia from her Christmas holidays and family visit in Latvia. Anna is doing is doing an EVS (European Voluntary Service) in Croatia currently, with the organization Syncro-Synergy Croatia (NGO’s Facebook Page). Before Budapest, we met in Rijeka/Croatia on an Erasmus+ project. 


You might know the song „Can’t Feel My Face“ from The Weeknd. This is how we felt walking through the city all the time. It was a new temperature low record in Budapest – something like -10 °C to -21 °C. Nevertheless, this freezing temperatures didn’t change our positive mood!


Anna and me had a great time in Budapest. We did one Free Walking Tour, visited some hipster shops and famous ruin clubs and just explored the city by ourselves. The weather – besides the temperature – was perfectly sunny and we visited many beautiful places, as you can see on the pictures.

   


Thanks to social media, it was very easy to contact other people who were in Budapest on that weekend too. And look whom I found – András and Bálint. Two friends from an Erasmus+ project in Estonia last year. It was great to have some local guys with us as they know all the good and secret (at least for tourists) places. We had a really good time together. Thank you guys for this great evening!

This are just some good reason to be part of the big Erasmus+ community : ) Such projects and shared experiences connect people from all over Europe and that is really important to me. I think it is the foundation for a great future of multiculturality. Don’t be scared of things you don’t know yet, but be open-minded instead and enjoy all the new possibilities and experiences by meeting other people, visiting different countries and get to know new cultures.

I hope to see you all again soon and I wish you all the best!

Yours,
Manuel G.