What's up: Truly Europeans
How many times we change our home and live in another country? How many times we leave our comfort zone behind us? How many times we try to live together with people from different nations? Trying to fit to the local community? To go and find ourselves or discover another version of ourselves?
This month’s column reflects on the experiences of two volunteers doing their European Voluntary Service (EVS) with the European University Sports Association in the academic year 2015-16.
Reflection by Anett Fodor from Hungary:
We, truly Europeans, generation raised by Erasmus+, once when we have already discovered the opportunities just can't stop exploring, gaining experience. After spending more than one and half year in Barcelona with two Erasmus+ scholarship, I got my EVS to Slovenia.
I started to work at the European University Sport Association last September. The conditions provided by EUSA was perfect, much better than an EVS volunteer can get in general, not mentioning all the support what I have got from them for developing my professional career. I consider this year as one of the biggest opportunity I have ever had in my life to go forward in my career path and I am really grateful for that.
Although, having an adventure abroad sounds fun, but sometimes it can be really challenging, too. Sometimes the journey is not about to find out who you are, but about to discover who you are not. You have to know when you have had enough or it is worth to holding on, because in the end some greater thing will come along. In my case, the second option was relevant, because learning sometimes is might not smooth, but definitely you come out stronger and wiser in the end and right now I am having the fruit of it.
To put to crown to my whole year, working and being part of the European Universities Games 2016 is one of the best experience I have ever had, and I can’t be enough proud and happy to be here, with this team, with this organization. And as I look back, I see everything was worth it and I still feel like not to stop ever. Keep going on, traveling, volunteering, being involved to different projects, living abroad, meeting people, getting more European citizen, learning values promoted by Erasmus+, being outside of my comfort zone, finding more version of myself, learning the real life, and most of all being part of EUSA Family for the rest of my life.
Reflection by Romain Charrier from France:
My one year project started last September. I am writing this article after one year living abroad from my country and working in EUSA and you know what? I survived! And I liked it! I travelled a lot during my life because I love it and I always like to discover new cultures, but I have to admit that I was not really ready for this. I think that you are not really ready before you make this experience. Visiting and living in a country is completely different; mainly it's the spirit you are in. I was more at the beginning in the spirit of visiting and I didn't realize that one year is long. Living far from my family and friends that I missed and they missed me. Then I realized that I had to adapt myself to this new environment & culture and to take the best of it! It was sometimes fun, sometimes difficult but I have no regrets and I will go back only with good memories from this experience.
I was given a lot of freedom in EUSA and had to figure out the best solution to have good results. That was challenging and I learned a lot through this unformal learning method. Learning by experiencing and making some mistakes… Oh, yeah I did some mistakes and sometimes big ones! Sorry, hehe! But I will never do them again and it's a good benefit from this method.
The year ran smoothly dealing with the job and some free time activities. During the EVS we had two EVS trainings, at which we met other volunteers doing their EVS in Slovenia. During the trainings we shared our experiences and had informal way of teaching, you learn a lot on different topics such as cultural awareness, how to face different situations and lots of different useful things. The trainings were for me really good moments because it was opportunity to make more friends here and afterwards do thing together such as excursions, parties and visiting the country.
Returning on the work in the office, the year 2015/2016 was really full of adventures of challenges. In October I went to a Judo championship in France to assist in the running of the competition. I learned a lot there and this competition has a really good place in my memories because the organising committee did an really nice job and the event was wonderfully organised. We also had to help with the organisation of EUSA General Assembly and Gala, held in Poland in April. Another chance to travel! In this event we were multitasking as a support team, helping in different areas as needed. I experienced a lot with this event, in the organising field but also in the political field and that will be useful in my future career I am sure.
The last event was the biggest and I have many good memories from there. It was the EUSA Games during July 2016. Because the Olympics just finished this comparison is the easiest to me - EUSA games are like mini Olympics, it's a multisport competition between European Universities. With over 5000 participants from 400 universities from 40 countries, not counting the staff and the volunteers that were also around 1500. I really enjoyed the event a lot and I had the chance to work in lots of different areas like marketing, communications, sport, taking part in technical meetings. That was interesting and challenging but also rewarding and I learned a lot through it. Apart from the work area, it was really a great chance to meet people and to make good friendships there.
Apart from these big events what is really my EVS experience? If I have to resume it I would say that it's a combination of lots of points: meeting new people, experiencing new things, learning about new cultures and minds, learning and growing personally and the most important in my point of view learning about yourself. Let me clarify this. When you live in your little comfort zone, it's not very challenging and you don't really see what you are made of. How you will react or how you think on different situations that will never happen if you stay home. The EVS was a unique experience to face issues and problems that I wouldn't have faced if I stayed in my country. That brought me lots of answers, and I figured a lot about myself and how I want to build my life. Of course you learn so many things during this year that it's impossible to list them all.
I used also this year to travel and to see maximum of Slovenia and the nearby countries - Italy, Austria, Croatia, Hungary and also others nearby. I feel thankful of these opportunities and I discovered beautiful things and people. I warmly encourage people to go for the EVS experience. It will change you and I assure you: you will come back bigger!
EVS opportunities in the European University Sports Association (EUSA) are possible because of the support from the European Union through the Erasmus+ programme and the National Agency in Slovenia Movit. The project is also supported by the International University Sports Federation (FISU). The call for EVS service in EUSA is published once a year in January. EUSA would like to thank Anett and Romain, as well as other volunteers and interns who have helped write the history of the organisation and actively contribute in making our future brighter!
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