Much more than just education
For a long time, I have admired those who have gone on exchange years but have at the same time understood how much time and money you are forced to set aside and what adjustment you are expected to make.
Imagine then having the chance to do something similar without making these sacrifices…
We in the aesthetics and media program were lucky enough to participate in a project, “Digital Competence and e-Safety” (DCeS Erasmus project), where we got to do just that, but within a week and with specific training included. This, together with 5 other countries whose participants, including us, would not “change” families but knowledge during the trip. That sounds fun, doesn’t it?
Before we had found out where each individual would be allowed to travel, if travel would be possible, so to speak (we all know our enemy whose name we do not want to mention), no one knew what to expect. The thoughts revolved around “does this mean a week’s lecture around the clock, locked up like in quarantine abroad?”, Or can the school actually collaborate with something that attracts young people as well? No offense
One of the first thoughts I had about a school project was how busy a schedule we would get and how much it would affect my experience. When the days began, I realized that the well-planned teaching hours whizzed by, and the rest of the time with the group consisted of extremely interesting sights in the city “Grójec”, as well as in Warsaw. Afterward, we had plenty of time with the host family and the young people involved.
The difficult communication that we were all afraid of quickly disappeared. The lack of English was something that most people had in common, and the habit of speaking made it easier when you relaxed. The language also had no meaning when we met and danced until the sun rose.
The nervousness you had before and the worst-case scenarios you had imagined were not something I got to experience. The host family, and what I heard about the other families, were accommodating, and the routines, together with the friendship that developed, made the longing for home far from my thoughts.
To talk about the friendship I mentioned earlier, the theory of not having time to create friendships in a week is more than false. Not even the number, approx. 40 people prevented one from having time to socialize with everyone.
To talk about if differences between people and the different experiences of every one were noticed during the trip, this was not a problem. We had several deep discussions, and above all, we were all very similar. Everyone was curious and forward, with similar thoughts as the others. After all, we are a generation where everyone is connected to the internet and fed with the same information via social media.
When it comes to learning during the journey, it is only about the individual’s will. We got to work in groups and share our knowledge with each other, while the presentations were well planned and implemented.
The training week in Poland turned out to be more than just education. It showed that both the organizer of the Erasmus project and the school could deliver.
To think back on the dream of an exchange year, I can only say that it would probably be fantastic. For me, this week was just right, at the same time as I would have liked to meet the young people even further. I look forward to receiving the students who travel to Sweden in a year. The community that was talked about before the trip was better than I could have imagined. Despite a sad farewell from everyone involved, the group chat is not quiet, and we stay safe on social media.
This journey has made me think that different experiences, characteristics, and knowledge play a big role in the learning of a subject, but also bringing new experiences along the way is a good way to develop. I urge the school to continue, and I give a big “high five” to Erasmus.