In this training which was hosted by Udruga Studio B from Croatia, Ticket2Europe had the chance to give 5 participant from Spain their first project experience as well as opening up and discovering a new country. 36 youngsters all gathered in this small city called Nova Gradiska, Croatia to work together and raise awareness of the importance of critical thinking.
After this amazing experience, we will let you know more about it through our participants :
I remember when I first heard about this project: we had just come back from Christmas holidays and none of us expected any changes in our routine. Without giving to it much importance, Álvaro, who will become my team mate a couple of months later, mentioned the possibility of travelling to Croatia thanks to Romy, our English subject assistant.
Personally, at first I was skeptic of this idea: where’s Croatia? What’s the point of going on a trip at such a distance in the middle of our exams? What do we have to do there? And, most important, why does this girl, who doesn’t know us almost at all, want to take such a responsibility?
So, even though it sounded exciting, we tried to forgot about it assuming that it wasn’t going to be possible- we couldn’t be THAT lucky. However, days passed by and this rumour started to become louder and clearer.
There was going to be an exchange (do I have to host somebody at home?) in Croatia (ok let’s google this country then) for young students, and Romy had the opportunity to carry us with her (still why?).
And finally the day arrived. Romy entered our classroom and explained us every detail. Some of us were going to spend 10 days in Nova Gradiška with 30 other students from Croatia, Slovenia, Lithuania, Turkey and Poland, taking part in a project about Critical Thinking.
I couldn’t be happier when I was selected, even though I had no idea of what we were going to experience. We 5 prepared everything as fast as possible and, when we realised, we were already in the bus to the airport.
All of this was new for us: travelling abroad without our family, Erasmus +, youth exchanges- even the Facebook group.
After a couple of flights and buses and a quick walk in Zagreb, we arrived at the hostel at dinner time. We had some kind of introductory games and we went to sleep- the adventure was to start the next day.
What followed up was a whole week of 4 intense daily sessions based on team work, initiative, communication and critical thinking, to work on topics such as cultural awareness, active listening, setting challenges or achieving goals.
Besides, and despite the age difference that we were afraid of, we were building close and strong relationships with the rest of participants, and learning about their cultures through intelcultural nights, that we all valued very positive.
Everything went better each day than the previous one, our expectations were being fullfilled by far and each one of us was experiencing a process of self-discovering. All of this became visible every day in our reflection groups. These were, for me, the most important help I had to hold on to them.
I gained self confidence, I developed myself as a person, I became more aware of myself and the others, developing basic social skills and useful knowledge for real life.
I learned to learn and, most important, to take ownership of my own learning.
For me, this experience was like starting walking a path. And once you start, nothing remains the same, not even the way you see the world you live in.
Where was all of this before or where were we that we couldn’t see it? Still have to think about it.
Meeting people so ‘like-minded’- as someone told me after arriving back home-, connecting and sharing experiences.
During 10 days we joined our lives to anothers’.
Even though we said goodbye, we carry all of us in our backpacks.
Some kind of metaphor of what life is.
Best outcome: in each end, there’s always a new start.
I would like to start this article from the very beginning of this amazing experience. It was January when I first heard about doing some stuff related with Croatia. I didn’t know much about it, so I just let it go. Some weeks later, Romy appeared in our class (for the second time actually, but this time was for something different), and told us some more details about that «stuff», that indeed was about to become an unforgettable experience.
I saw the opportunity to travel, meet new people and learn English, and that was great, so I applied, but still scared. What I didn’t know was that I was about to learn a lot about myself, too. Romy also told us that the project was for people between 18 and 25, which at first it made me feel even more scared, but I think it was the point that made me think about setting a challenge to myself. I became more and more found to the idea of going – Yes, I liked that idea. I will go to Croatia, be with different people which I’m not used to, learning English… What can be wrong? No one will kill me if I make mistakes, I guess (and hope); and my English is not that bad, so… let’s see what happens.
Days later, I was given the news that I’m going to that (awesome, funny, maybe boring… whatever) project. At that point I started to see things even more positive. I was going to take a plane (I had never flown by plane before); I was going to a foreign country, which for me it was exciting; I was going to meet new people and maybe learn something more than English, who knows?
After two crazy months, full of exams, homework and meetings (to buy the tickets, etc…), suddenly I was on a plane, heading to Nova Gradiška. During that flight I experienced lots of feelings. In some moments I was crazy about getting there, but in some other moments I was rethinking about turning around and going back home. However, I told to myself: «No, I don’t want to go home. I’m here because I want to be here. Let’s try this.»
So, I arrived to Nova Gradiška in Croatia. My first impression was that it would be really challenging, but not as hard as I first thought (before leaving Spain). Actually, I was already out of my comfort zone and, to be honest, it wasn’t that bad. During the first few activities, I felt shy, and to be true, I really hated that feeling. I was going to spend 9 more days there, so I just had to make a little effort. I needed like 2 or 3 more days to feel comfortable to work with the rest of the participants (also group leaders and organizers). The activities continued to be a challenge, and I still liked them. In my opinion, there’s no point if you don’t have to make an effort to do or achieve something. What can happen if you fail? Are you going to die? No. So, what’s the matter?
Each day I felt more and more self-confident, and I was discovering that I was there to learn about myself, too. Reflection groups were a big push for me, and I’m beholden for that. Romy made me see the need to set little challenges within a bigger one. You can’t walk a whole path with just one big step, you always need to take more but shorter steps forward. In my case, my smaller challenge was to participate more. I felt I had (maybe) good ideas, but still lack in self-confidence to say them out loud. So that was my challenge, and each day I pushed myself more and more, and I think that’s what I did.
I loved almost every activity, but if I had to choose, I would pick out The Wheel of Life or maybe the last activity, in which we had to pick up a card, and it should represent something about us during the project. In my case, I chose a card which had a labyrinth. My explanation was that I had chosen that card because for me, the project was a big challenge (the labyrinth), and before each activity I felt lost, as if I had no chance in carrying it out. I participated in all activities with no problem (of course with difficulties, but always achieving my goals), and that made me think about myself. It was nice for me, that I was able to make some people feel thrilled with my words. That means that my message got to them, and that’s what I wanted.
I realised of a very important result of this project, just when I arrived home. I read every letter and when I finished, I reflected about what I had just done and what I had just learnt, and I realised something: A person travels around the world looking for what (s)he needs, but goes back home to find it out.
And finally, I would like to thank Romy for giving me (us) the opportunity of having this amazing experience and trusting us this much. I would like to thank the organizers, because they wrote and prepared such a fantastic project, and especially Luka Tunjić, as he was just like a brother for me. I would like to thank my roommates Giedrius Vyšniauskas and Barut Yüksel for making my adaptation easier. I would also like to thank those who were my friends *there* (not then, because I still consider you that way), and helped me with my way of thinking… (I think no names are needed ). I would like to thank my Spanish team for always being there for me. And, at last but not least, I would like to thank every participant for being such good people and making the most of my personal experience. I can just be glad.
OK! So after my classmates and friends Alvaro Freire Ares & Verónica Rodríguez ,let’s start.
It was almost Christmas’ holidays when my English teacher came to my class and said: «I’ve got some good news for you guys!». I was just like well… maybe she will remove an exam and the last option was, she’s joking.
To my surprise, she offered us the opportunity to take part of an Erasmus+ related to Critical Thinking, in Croatia. She told us that Romy Alexandra (our English Assistant) works with an organisation called Ticket 2 Europe which promotes these opportunities.
At first I was just like in a dream, everything sounded fantastic and interesting. Then I came back to the real life and I realised that only 5 students could go. I went home and I told my mother about it, she told me that I should apply because as we say in Spanish: » The train only passes once», which means that I shouldn’t let this opportunity go. After holidays we were going to know the 5 lucky students could go.
Álvaro, Vero, Borja, Icía and I have been chosen. We couldn’t believe it.
So now I think it’s time to talk about how things happened after we know that we were going to this Erasmus+.
As I said before I was in a DREAM, for me is not as easy as for other people to separate from my family, to travel to other countries, to meet new people and so on. I was excited and scared at the same time, the fact that we were the youngest didn’t help so much. My biggest fear was not being able to overcome my shyness. I didn’t want that my shyness harmed my learning.
The trip to Croatia was amazing, we’ve got a lot of time to know more about Romy and also about us, we were so nervous but she managed to calm us, she was like our mother and I loved it so much because I felt comfortable and I could express myself. We wanted to arrive at Nova Gradîska as soon as possible because we couldn’t wait to know how this kind of experience, learning works and also because we were so tired.
When we arrived we met our roommates, I think I had the best one ( Nina Kitel) she’s extremely outgoing, kind, polite, friendly… I think she helped me a lot to forget about my shyness. Also every participant received us nicely.
Every day we know more about each others, we learned about cultures, non-formal education, life… I think that what I have learnt there will help me for the rest of my life. I don’t know how to tell you about how much did my mind change, my way of thinking. Everyday I learnt something new, I had the opportunity to talk with people that I have never met but it seemed that we knew each other since we were little. The age doesn’t appear in any conversation, we didn’t judge each others we were extremely polite, there wasn’t any problem, each day was different. I was completely free to share what I felt, to discuss, to be honest. I noticed that at the end I was really open-minded because in «real life» I’m an absolutely pig-headed girl.
I realised that all I have learnt in this Erasmus+
#LMTAI will help me more, and it would be more useful in life that all I have learnt at school. In this experience I have learnt that hat theory is useful but you have to know how can it help you.
What I have lived, learnt, did in this YE will never happened again. This was unique. Extremely important for me to know more about how life is, how thinks work apart from the school. Now I think I can take decisions, I can start a new path knowing what I really want.
Finally I just want to thank Romy for trusting on us, for being like a mother, friend, cool teacher… For showing me that I CAN, that this is just the beginning. Also thank you for Group Reflections, they were essential for me. Also I want to tell to each participant that it was amazing to share with you this experience, I’ll never forget you. Thank you Luka Tunjić & Đoko Ono for creating this project, for trusting us, for helping us …
And also say to Galeguiños that I admire them even more that I used to do.
I want to tell you about this great experience from which I learned a lot and I will never forget.
After meeting Romy, one day she came to our school class and told us about the possibility to go to a foreign country, specifically Croatia, to go to a project called Let Me Think About It, an Erasmus, so I thought I had to take advantage of that opportunity. I did it, and thank goodness, because I think in these 9 days I couldn’t learn more, and I met very good people that I miss a lot, and it would be great to meet them more.
I don’t know why, but I was very nervous during the trip to Nova Gradiska, you can ask my Spanish group, because I went 100 times to the toilet. Once there, I was just thinking about who was going to be my roommate, and when I saw him I was really scared because he was much older than me. Now I have to say thank you Ata, because from the first moment I lost all those nerves.
I didn’t like anything the first day, I was too embarrassed to talk to people, because I had to do it in English; but the next day was much easier, and the next easier, and so on until the last. That’s because the people were very friendly and great. Thak you guys!!!!
The most important person there was Romy, who took care of us as if we were her family, and helped us to set ourselves small goals to improve. Thank you Romy without you this wouldn’t be possible, WE LOVE YOU!!️️
To finish I want to thank all the participants, and sorry if I made mistakes writing, you know my english isn’t very good, but I’m trying to improve it.
I’m so grateful about being in this projetc. I say «being» because for me, this project hasn’t finished yet and I hope it won’t finish ever. It was an unforgettable experience with unforgettable people in an unforgettable place. This experience has totally changed me in the way I think and in every aspect of my life. At first, I wanted to go but I wasn´t as excited as Romy seemed to be.
To be in this project, I had to make a big effort that made me think «Why am I doing this?!» All my classmates would have almost three weeks with exams, but I wouldn´t be the last two weeks in Spain, so I would have all the exams in only a week. Honestly, It was the worst part of the project. In that moment I started to hesitate if I really wanted to go, maybe it would be humdrum and boring. What could I say? It was my first YE, I had no idea about all this stuff and neither about Critical Thinking!
One day, Romy said to us «Okey guys, you have to know that you are not going to sleep together, each of you, is going to sleep in rooms of 2 or 3 people but every roomate will be from a different country» I was really scared, I was going to sleep with people older than me (The project was for people up to 18 and I was only 16) and they wouldn’t speak my language. I have to say that I wasn’t confident on my level of English, and I was so afraid about not having level enough.
When I first arrived I knew my roomates Ana Maria (From Slovenia) & Kasha (From Poland) and seriously, they were the best roomates ever! They made me feel at home since the begining until the end and they always helped me when I needed it.
The first days I was really nervous, I participated almost anything, because I realised how much experienced people were there, and I wasn’t; as I mentioned before, It was my first YE. Every evening, we had reflection groups. The first days, Romy said that we were doing a great job and she was very proud of us, her «Galeguiños» (We were known like that) but she said that we weren’t talking too much and she started to put us challenges. Our improvements along the 10 days were visible!! In my case, I improved my English a lot and I began to speak it fluently; I started to be more self-confident, to express my opinion and ideas, but also to be tolerant with the others. I have learnt that there are many other ways of learning apart from school, and in my opinion more effective. I also realised, that sometimes there isn’t a correct answer.
Seriously, I can’t be more happy about participating in this project. I have never had such a great experience! thank you all for making it unforgettable!