Stowarzyszenie Projektów Międzynarodowych „INPRO”

Where’s the catch?

Written by Rui Fernandes

I wish I knew about all the opportunities available for youth when I was 18 years old. Nowadays, young people have a handful of opportunities available in a wide range of fields of interest. From studying abroad, international internships and entrepreneurial grants, to international youth exchanges, training, and volunteer work. All of this can have a major impact on both the personal and the professional development of youth, contributing to the enhancement of soft and hard skills of the ones that will be the decision-makers in the near future.

Today, I know where to look for opportunities that suit my needs. But still, a lot of people never even heard of them. The first time I heard of Erasmus+ opportunities, I was honestly suspicious. That sounded too good to be true, although the person telling me all of this had just come back from his ESC (EVS at the time) in Finland. I had proof and I still couldn’t trust that information completely. Traveling to another country, meeting new people and work with them in a non-formal environment with all costs covered? What’s the snag? In what way will I pay this? Well, I paid with time and the right motivation.

All my experiences were withing the Erasmus+ program. I was first introduced to it by a local organization with whom I started to work on some local projects. Quickly I started to be more aware of our rural area’s problems and needs and to become more proactive. In my town, I met some international people that were there participating in a Youth Exchange. This short interaction fueled my interest in intercultural contact and made me think about trying it myself. When I could find enough time (and also some courage), I decided to go for it. I participated in several youth exchanges, a training course, and even co-organized one in my home town and wrote my research thesis about the role of exchanges in the development of competences.

After all of these experiences, I can say I am an improved person. I am more confident and with better self-esteem, my language skills are better, enhanced my interpersonal skills (soft skills) and feel more comfortable with interculturality. If this wasn’t enough, I made dozens of friends from all around the world, which I meet often in different places. Today, I am 26 years old and volunteering in Poland, the result of all of this and of my motivation to keep developing. I wish I knew about all of this when I was eighteen.