Feelings of anxiety, nerves, expectation, hesitation and just not believing the news you have received (“you are one of the participants chosen to take part in this project”); and these are minor emotions, compared to the ones that you’ll experience through the whole process.
10 countries, 20 participants. For my first project, I was about to meet many people from many different countries. At first I thought it would be difficult to feel part of the team “BETTER START COACHING“.
My first day, my first impressions and the surprise when I realized it was really difficult to discern who was from which country. In the end, we all are humans, with big dreams, aspirations, and a willingness to grow both personally and professionally and what’s more: being hungry to know the world, to meet other cultures, learn from others and help them.
The first day was just for us to meet each other and present the planned activities, how everything would work, what was expected from us and what we could expect from them.
The next day, after the first lessons… we had the Intercultural Night! A cool way to get to know each country, their dances, ways of doing things, their own feelings for their country, language, music, food and… typical drinks too!
‘Better Start Coaching’ was planned to teach us methods to help and overcome Youth Unemployment through coaching. We learned techniques to coach people in different ways: through seminars, lectures, games, practices, and creative activities where we were the ones asked to develop new methods to fight against some forms of personal resistance. However, what was more surprising is that “learning how to be a coach myself” was not the only knowledge I was absorbing. Without realising it at first, I was also changing; it was like undertaking self-therapy.
This week I’ve discovered an inner self that would never have emerged without these amazing people around me. I became friends with people from other countries, we were like siblings, always together, understanding each other with just a look (no words needed). Feeling like we’ve known each other longer than some friends I have in Barcelona. I would never think that I could be so confident and comfortable around foreign people. To have a close group of friends of three different countries.
And… you know what’s best? That it’s true friendship! We are already planning trips together for the coming years and I have a home in each country without having to purchase them!
Even though I was sceptical of what I would learn from the program lessons, I just can say that it is not even possible to describe how much I’ve learned. Non formal educational lessons, that get to you deeper than what you thought they would, that make you think about what you’ve learnt, even two weeks after they have finished. You learn in such a way that everything you internalised sticks in your mind for life; every time you face a particular challenge in your own journey, all the coaching lessons learned go through your mind before you decide what action to take.
We learned how to make people self-confident and feel professional even playing silly games. We were taught how to apply “active listening” and how to ask the perfect/best questions possible through the “why-why” game. We have to apply to our own self what Einstein’s mother asked him every day after school: “What intelligent questions have you asked today?”
This was my first trip alone and I can confidently say that it’s not going to be the last one for sure! When you travel alone you learn so much about yourself: what you like, what you don’t, and how much you are able to manage by yourself…
I found myself travelling with two other people (my best friends on that program), an Estonian guy and a Macedonian one, taking a bus at 3 in the morning from Bielsko-Biala to Krakow, deciding to walk around the city all day and not sleeping in order to catch a late bus at 4:30 am! The bus on the way back had a broken heater and it was freezing. However, I would not change a single part of that day! It was AMAZING! Me, a girl who has always loved to have comfort and the family around herself, enjoying to take buses, talking with native people, walking at 3 am through a park without feeling like being a foreigner but at home… what an awesome surprise! I can’t wait to find myself having more of these adventures!
I would encourage anyone to take part in least once an Erasmus+ project. I say at least once, because I would bet anything on this: that once you experience it one time, you would beg, even be willing to pay any price, to enrol in another one!
It’s not just about travelling, it is about personal growth, discovering who you truly are, what you love and all your capabilities. You are not more or less than others, we are each on our own path doing our best; and these projects give you the courage to take risks and conquer your fears, to believe in yourself, to just be better than the person you were yesterday. This course has taught me that we are all the same, that friends are like a family that you build for yourself and that it can be spread all around Europe, as Europe has been built by people willing to be a HUGE FAMILY. That it is all about being open-minded, not judging, learning to listen, understanding and learning from others. SHARING is CARING! And just by sharing your time and living with others you can change others lives, but never as much as they will change yours.
Your English will improve in one week more than it could in a year back in Spain.
It gets to a point that words are not enough to describe the experience, I beg you to give it a chance and enrol in one of this experiences!
Where are you? HERE
What time is it? NOW
Who are you? THIS MOMENT
Embrace every single moment and the little blessings of life! Live your life to the fullest! Take advantage of the people that know more than you do and want to share their knowledge with you!
As I said, take part in one project and let me know how it feels when you come back home!
Now, I feel homesick, waiting to have the chance see my new friends this autumn in a different country… I just want to thank everyone who has made this adventure possible! I will never have enough words to express how flattered, thankful and indebted I feel for being part of this FAMILY. I would like to make a special mention to Fundació Catalunya Voluntària for all its support throughout the process, its help and for providing the opportunity!
Marta Trabal Gaspar