Discover the thrill of youth exchanges
First of all, let me tell you what is the Erasmus Youth Exchange. The programme contains projects that are carried out within 5 to 21 days in which young people between the ages of 13 and 30 participate. For these projects, which are inspired by the European Youth Goals, participants of at least two countries come together while knowing a foreign language is not a requirement.
Young individuals conduct workshops on many subjects with participants from many countries which creates a cultural exchange, as well as positive experiences and lessons such as empathy, effective communication, and integration among young people.
By passing on your stories to others in your country, you become a catalyst for change, sharing and multiplying the spirit of the Erasmus+ programme. Imagine the impact you can make, reaching thousands of young people with the magic of exchange.
We are starting the Romanian Journey…
With 7 different youth organisations from 5 different countries (Romania, Türkiye, France, Italy, Czech Republic) we carried out a youth exchange programme called “Smart Choices for Healthy Lifestyle” in the city of Botoşani, located in the north of Romania, between the 1st and 5th of May 2023.
Our project was about raising the awareness of young individuals on mental health, active life, and sports, and how young people can lead an overall healthier lifestyle. During this five-day period, the positive energy of nature and the active efforts of the participants made it an excellent project.
Firstly, I will not say that it was an easy journey… Romania is a country with very old trains, although the railway is developed. The “Smart Choices for Healthy Lifestyle” project took place in the Romanian city of Botoşani, in a region close to the Moldovan border. On this trip, we actually completed a part of our journey by flying directly from Istanbul to Bucharest. But I didn't know that the journey was just beginning...
The real journey begins now
After getting off the plane in Bucharest, the capital of Romania, I took a seven-hour train ride to Iaşi, a city near Botaşani. It was a very uncomfortable and tiring journey for me, as the trains were old and slow. After arriving in the city of Iaşi, we took buses to the project area and reached a training facility intertwined with nature after two hours. Imagine how long a journey I had gone through… it took about 10 hours, including a plane, a train, and a bus. There is also air transportation to the northern parts of Romania, but I had to pass through Bucharest because there were no flights on the dates I needed.
Although they are long, I realised that train journeys in Romania are fun. If you happen to be in the north of Romania, you should definitely try them.
Unveiling the enchanting setting
The “Smart Choices for Healthy Lifestyle” project took place in a training facility in the Vorona region, close to the city of Botaşani. The training facility was located in an environment suitable for the subject of the project, having a position that is intertwined with nature. I would like to say that the educational facilities' project halls, sports facilities, and large garden increased the quality and benefit of our project.
Realising a project in an environment suitable for very productive activities in terms of mental health and sports allowed me to enrich my experience. Thus, I enjoyed a very beautiful and unforgettable nature project.
The things that the project brought me
Sincerely, I had a lot of fun and gained unforgettable memories from the moment I joined the project until the end, and I was very lucky in this regard. In each project, we say goodbye with a memory box and go through an emotional process. In this project, I gained cultural awareness by getting the chance to meet 42 friends from 5 different countries. By learning about their cultures, an exchange took place and, as a result, I gained true friendships.
42 sincere people I can't forget…
In the projects, you get the opportunity to discover many historical places along with learning basic words in many languages. By getting the chance to see many cities, especially the natural beauty of the country you are visiting, your vision and horizon expand and, as a result, you live through a good experience.
You want to participate in Erasmus+ youth exchange programmes too. What should you do?
A person between the ages of 13 and 30 can benefit from youth exchange projects without any participation conditions. In the project I participated in, I only needed to fill out the motivation forms opened by the partner organisations evaluating the gender, region, and qualification criteria equally. In the projects, the ratio of boys and girls is generally chosen equally and there is no language requirement. But if you want to take an active part in the project, I recommend you to have at least an A2 language level.
If you know your vocabulary and basic phrases about the subject of the project it will be more fun and useful for you.
You buy your own transportation tickets during the process. Then, when you submit them to the coordinating institution, you will receive a refund up to the transportation fee amount included in the info pack.
In the project I participated in, it was said that a maximum of €275 would be paid between Türkiye and Romania. I bought my plane and train tickets by paying for myself. By presenting the invoice for the tickets to the institution, it reports these tickets and refunds you within 6 weeks at the latest. Thus, transportation, accommodation, and food and beverages are covered by the European Union, and young participants benefit from such a beautiful and beneficial programme free of charge.
Travel days before or after the project (it's up to you)
In Youth Exchange programmes, two days before or after the project we were allowed to visit the country. If you are selected for these projects, you can optionally visit the country like a tourist before or after the project and have the chance to discover many places. But let's not forget that you have to personally pay all the expenses you spend outside the project dates. Unfortunately, the European Union does not cover it.
After I finished the project in Botoşani, I had a nice experience by coming to Bucharest by train. I had the chance to visit the historical structure, old houses, and large gardens of the capital and had a nice touristic trip.
Yes, we are slowly coming to the end…
Don't hesitate! Youth Exchanges is a programme that should be done by every young person. You can be sure that you will not regret it - it's not just about having fun, but also about discovering your true potential, unlocking hidden talents, and broadening your horizons.
Written by Halis Berk Abaşoğlu