I am native Italian, born and raised in a small town in Northern Italy. I always dreamt of travelling to other countries, particularly in neighbouring Europe. One day, an opportunity presented itself to me! I responded to a note that I saw on Facebook, asking for young people to volunteer to travel abroad for work experience. I registered my interest, submitted my application, a cover letter and my CV and forgot about it – it’s one of those things that happens, you do something, then don’t really think about it again. A few weeks later my phone rang, inviting me for an interview on Skype, and in no time at all, I was packing my bags!
You might think I’m a teenager but I’m not, I am close to 30 years old, so I wasn’t at school, or university. Instead, it was a case of me exploring a new country and exchanging good practices as well as new working methods. In fact, the Key Action 2 in the field of Erasmus means: “Cooperation for Innovation and the Exchange of Good Practices”. Opportunities for cooperation for innovation and the exchange of good practices are designed to modernise and reinforce education, training, and youth systems.
So, from my small hometown in Northern Italy I was catapulted into the heart of Paris! I still remember the trip from Charles de Gaulle airport to the Parisian district of Le Marais. Upon exiting the Metro, I was overwhelmed by an explosion of new colours, sounds, voices and scents! It was beautiful!
I had a small studio to stay in and the first evening I watched passers-by move in the very same extraordinary area of Paris that had just hosted Pride and so was still dyed with the colours of the rainbow. On my first night of arrival, I went downstairs and stopped at a small cafe to have dinner. I ordered a mushroom omelette, mindful of my budget. Every person who experiences an Erasmus+ mobility has a predefined budget available, assigned for the duration of their stay.
On my first morning, the alarm clock woke me early and I bought my breakfast in a mini market on my way home, orange juice, coffee and some fruit. It was the start of my adventure! Every morning I took the subway to the north of Paris, in the First Suburbs, I changed 1 or 2 stops, depending on where I was going. One day on the subway I realised, "I got here without getting lost today!" It was a moment where I thought that even if I felt full of fear of not arriving at my destination on time, I knew that being on my own drew out resources I never thought I had.
This also applied to the language. When I arrived, I was afraid of not being able to make myself understood, of not having a sufficiently high level of English and French. However, after just 2 days, I interacted with classmates and tutors with ease. Sure I made mistakes, but every mistake meant I learnt the correct way to say something – so it was an education in itself.