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Voting from Abroad: My Journey From Toronto to Turin

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Hey, I’m Lisa from Italy, currently doing my semester abroad in Toronto, Canada. Thanks to the Erasmus Generation in Action (EGiA) initiative, I could return home to vote in the European elections. Voting is crucial and, as young people, we have the power to shape our future. Despite the challenges of voting abroad, especially with Italian regulations, EGiA made it possible for me to fly back to Turin. This experience highlighted my appreciation for the European Union's benefits, like sustainable travel. I'm thrilled to participate in the elections and contribute to positive change for our future!
Girl running toward a tree; with the Ontario lake and the Toronto skyline in the background.
On the Toronto Island

Hey sunshine,

My name is Lisa from Italy, and right now I am in Toronto, Canada for my semester abroad for my studies. I'm so excited to share a bit about myself and this incredible opportunity I recently had, all thanks to Erasmus Generation in Action (EGiA) . This initiative not only promotes active citizenship among European youth, and has as many young people as possible voting, but also supports some Erasmus Student Network (ESN) volunteers like me to return home, just in time for the European elections, which are happening between the 6th and the 9th of June 2024!


Who Am I? I’m someone who loves sunshine (the reason I decided to come to Canada during the summer), passionate about travelling, hiking, coffee dates, and hanging out with friends. I enjoy learning about new cultures and people because I believe that getting to know people from different cultures and backgrounds can inspire me to become a better version of myself, and that these experiences will become a part of me. In fact, I lived one year in England when I was 17 years old, and moved to Germany for six years when I was 19, and just 2 years ago I moved back to Italy! 


I am an ESNer and currently the Local Representative of ESN Milano-Bicocca (ESN Italy)! Being part of ESN has been an absolute game-changer experience for me! It’s given me the chance to meet other international students and volunteers who are now like a second family to me. The best part? This volunteering organization supports international students’ mobility, so I always felt supported by my team, even when I decided to go abroad for a year (six months to Canada and six months to New Zealand).


I had initially chosen Canada as my first destination because it was an opportunity I did not want to miss. This country is one of the most advanced countries in my field of research and I wanted to learn more and then bring innovation and knowledge back to our beloved Europe. As the European elections were approaching, my only worry was losing them because I was far from home, and the Italian Government did not allow us to vote from abroad through the Italian Embassy or Consulate. Italian citizens living in a country inside the European Union could vote just if they were registered to the AIRE (Anagrafe Italiani Residenti all’Estero, which is the “Register of Italians Living Abroad”). But another problem is that a person could register to the AIRE only if they are living in that country for more than 12 months. So it is clear that students doing an exchange semester or their Erasmus abroad couldn’t vote during their mobility. But guess what? Thanks to the support from EGiA Programme, I managed to fly back to my hometown (Turin, Italy) for the elections, so I will not miss out on this opportunity!


My Journey Back Home: My journey back home took around 30 hours. I left my home in Toronto around 6 am to arrive at the International Toronto Pearson Airport and arrived the next day home: Turin, Italy. During my journey I had some time to reflect on the incoming elections, how I see my future in Europe, revised the election programs, and later I realised how lucky we are here! First of all, we can travel around the countries part of the European Union in a fast and sustainable way, like by taking trains and busses. In Canada for example, the cities are built “for cars and not for the people”, and they don’t have fast trains. Did you know that if you want to take a bus from Toronto to New York City, it is a 12-hour ride? Guess how much it takes with the train? 13 hours. While with the car it takes around 8 hours. In fact, people mostly travel within the country by car or by taking flights as it is the fastest and cheapest way to move around, which is not sustainable. It is crazy, right? 


I also realised that we have more data protection and privacy. As soon as I landed in Canada, there were some Artificial Intelligence Tools installed on all my social media without the social media asking me permission, just because I was in North America and it is normal there.


Regarding the health insurance, normally with an European health insurance, we are pretty covered in all member states, while my Canadian health insurance covers me just in Ontario and in the rest of the country just if it is a big emergency. Of course there is always space for improvement, also for us, but all of this made me appreciate the European Union even more than before!


Why I Believe We Need to Vote: Voting is a fundamental right and a powerful tool for change and improvement. As young people, we often hear that we are the future, so it is crucial to understand that our actions today shape that future, whether it’s addressing climate change, ensuring equal opportunities for all, or fostering economic growth, our votes play a crucial role in our community. It’s easy to feel disillusioned or think that one vote does not make a difference but collectively we can influence these decisions and ensure that our concerns and priorities are addressed.


Well, the only thing I can say is that I am excited and happy that I can contribute to shape our future!