My Erasmus+ story begins in Wrocław, Poland.
When I arrived in Wrocław in November 2019, I didn’t know much about the city, but it was an inspiration at first sight. For the first time in my life I felt like a true citizen of a European capital of culture. During the 10 days I spent in the city, I took on the challenge of finding the 300 elusive dwarfs representing the opposition to the control of the USSR, and I saw the walls of the communist Soviet regime, which helped me understand better the meaning of tolerance.
Growing up in a religious Armenian family, I thought I knew the meaning of the words tolerance, acceptance and love. But participating in the Erasmus+ youth exchange programme ‘YOU are the tolerance’ made me re-think many of the values I used to cherish. I came to understand that it wasn’t about liabilities and must-dos, but about being open to argument and self-doubt, appreciating others’ point of view, and seeing people not as men and women but as humans.
Of course, every Erasmus+ experience has its challenges. When I first met new people from other parts of the world, I was anxious about my inclusive capacities. I was worried about sharing my private life with people with different backgrounds and interests. This anxiety is there for a reason – it makes us realise how badly we want something, and stops us when the desire is not strong enough.
This Erasmus+ programme has made me realise how magical the corners of the world are and how terrible it is that we know so little about them. There are so many mind-blowing places that we have never thought existed, and so many extraordinary people that we have never met.
I appreciate the valuable knowledge I have gained from this exchange experience, along with the motivation, new perspectives, endless memories, and most importantly – lifelong friendships. On the first day of the programme, we were asked to make a drawing of our expectations, and I drew friends holding hands. I can’t believe my expectations became a reality.
We should use every opportunity to get to know the many faces of our fast-growing society, experience different adventures and make precious memories to look back on when we’re old. Four months after my time in Wrocław, I continue to be grateful for every time I missed my flight or train, got lost in this beautiful city, tried new food without knowing what it was, and arrived first at a social event. Is it possible to be jealous of your own life? If so, then I definitely am.
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