BELLSPIRATION CLUB – MIHAIL DIVJAKOSKI: I was 5km out of Trakai, in a wooden house in a forest with around 30 people from other countries (Part 2/4)

For the countless time in the past year and a half during my 6 projects, thank you for everything @erasmusslife

1) Dear Mihail, you have experience with the Erasmus+ youth exchange. Can you explain to us how important it is in general, to travel and share experiences?

Erasmus+ as a program offers tons of experiences and methods where youngsters can learn new cultures, explore the world, learn stuff, widen their horizons, and so on.

My first cross with Erasmus+ was in 2017 when as a volunteer in the Youth Council- Prilep, I was able to apply and go on a Youth Exchange in Lithuania. At first, it was scary, getting ready for a country I never thought I’d visit, with people from other countries, but at the same time it was really fun, the thought was exciting, trying something new and fresh, getting into something new.

My mom was much more scared than me, she was sending me to a country without knowing where Lithuania is on the world map.

The next thing I knew, I was 5km out of Trakai, in a wooden house in a forest with around 30 people from other countries. It was one of the best things that happened to me. What was even funnier, the night before I departed to Lithuania, I got a mail that I was accepted to another Youth Exchange in Osijek, Croatia, which was starting 5 days after I was supposed to come back to Lithuania. Things got heated up, so I didn’t tell my parents about Croatia. We got to Lithuania, settled up, and I did a video call with my parents, and my mom was like: “You are not doing this to me again, I couldn’t sleep until I heard from you”, and well, you can suppose how that went.

Anyhow, I came back from Lithuania, went to Croatia, and after those two unexpected and unplanned experiences, I settled up, and after a few months, I felt the Erasmus+ addiction, like, I Had to find another exchange, another opportunity. Up until this day I had 9 of those experiences, as I mentioned Lithuania, Croatia, Italy, Croatia again, then Macedonia, Italy again, Poland, and Turkey that happened in September 2019. Each and every one of these experiences gave me knowledge, friends, an enormous network from people all over the world, horizons, places, and memories.

Another kind of Erasmus+ experience that I did, were Erasmus studies, for which I was extremely excited and happy, even though there was tons of paperwork and preparations. I choose to do my Erasmus studies because I live nearby the city that I study in and I never had the luxury of having proper student life, so I felt like a part was missing, and that is where this opportunity came in. I applied for spending a semester at the Faculty of Economics in Split, Croatia, which turned out to be my favorite experience so far, and the best thing that has happened in my life up until this day, even though I met the world pandemic in another country, away from my family, away from my home, away from everyone I knew, this exchange gave me the opportunity to create a new family, people from all over the world, and by that mean Chile to Azerbaijan, and everything between these two. We were around 120 Erasmus Students in the city, and even though some left due to the pandemic, and we got in lockdown and away from some others, we stayed in contact, got closer every day, and it literally was the best thing ever, so evaluating 2020 as it is, the first part of it for me was actually a lifetime experience, and something I will carry on forever.

There is a lot to say, but I wouldn’t want to bore the readers with details, I am just gonna say this one thing: If I could go to this kind of exchange, hold on to it during a world pandemic, away from everything and everyone, and still have the best time ever, imagine what would it be like if you do it next semester?

Step up, write an email to the international collaboration office, fill in papers and go for an adventure! You won’t regret a single moment!

If anyone has any questions regarding this, or my previous experiences, or other ways of getting international experience, feel free to contact me, I love making international friends!

Erasmus+ cannot be explained, it needs to be experienced. Family. Macedonia, Greece, Portugal, Italy, Spain, all together in Croatia. People that I had one more life remembering the experience. People that I will look forward to meeting in the future somewhere in the world. People that I loved to give punishments to. Stay safe, healthy, and happy wherever you are. Miss you so much ❤❤

2) How important it was for you personally, and what benefits it brought to you?

Personally, I think this experience changed me. After the exchange, I learned to take on responsibilities and everyday news a bit easier, with less stress and less overreacting about my performance about everything. Like, I got a new perspective on things, I think my temper grew a bit more, I became let’s say less impulsive and more mature, mainly yes, more mature, because as I said I was on my own at the beginning, I had to adapt, learn everything about the university, shifted to online classes in another country, I mean, that was kind of a big deal at the given moment under the given situation. I felt more challenged than ever, I felt like I dunno, I had everything new, so It was my responsibility to make the best out of it, to adapt to the country, the society the other students, later on, the pandemic, the lockdown, everything that came with it, including the pressure from my parents to go back home in during the first outbreak, which I refused of course because at a certain point, It was more dangerous for my family to go back than to stay in Split. As I said, not everything was this hard and bad, I met awesome people along the way, made awesome friends, got a lot of support from the University and everyone working there, including the professors, and the staff at the dorm I was staying in.

So, concerning all this, I would say that I learned how to appreciate more the things I have, but my other plans aside for a while, gained temper, adaptability, independence and more mature behavior are a few of the most important benefits the exchange left me with.

One of the most beautiful places I have ever been to💚

3) I can feel a lot of love in our region between the countries in Western Balkans and the only way to overcome some issues is to make friendships between us. You are very good at communication, so what do you think about it, having friendships over borders?

This is the best thing you can devote your time to, gaining and making international friendships. We live in a world and times where you can never know where you’ll end up, what you’ll do and who you might need by your side, so a network of people, a network of friends is the thing that can make a person richer than ever before.

An opportunity to travel, opportunity to meet, the opportunity to get a new perspective, share good practices, experience a new culture, tradition, religion, community, and rules, it is the bestest bestest thing that can happen to a person. I understood this much more after the pandemic started, how much traveling can help a person, and meet another person along the way.

The Balkans have a messed-up history, and that is something that no one could deny. Per se, Macedonia and Greece, have had tons of issues and maybe there still are, and yet, out of 9 exchanges, in 7 of them Greece was one of the Partner Country in the certain project, so I’ve had Greeks as neighbors, roommates, teammates, and after the projects, friends. Like, we didn’t let the politics and the history get between us and the opportunity to create something good and positive. There are like, over 30 Greeks that are my age, younger and older, with whom I’ve crossed paths and we are still very much friends.

I know that the older generations still have those conservative mindsets and history issues, but we cannot let the past influence the present and future.

Think of it as a night drive, where you have some boring driver with his car right behind you and his lights hit the mirrors of your car, which blinds you, and you cannot drive and see in front of you so you either speed up and lose them, or you slow down, take a break, and let them in front.

The same thing with history and issues of the past, like, I understand that It is a big part of who and what we are today, but still, we need to get rid of its influence upon our everyday lives and focus on making the best out of a given moment and situation.

So yeah, to wrap this up, to everyone reading this, get up, and I don’t know, do something, apply for a project, volunteer, do an exchange, meet people from the neighboring countries or further, and create. Humans are supposed to create. Create friendships, memories, networks, inventions, art, technology, just create. Always and forever.

just wanna take a flight, run through the crowds, get lost in cities, take pics, explore, and be amazed by all the beauties the world has to offer
Just a beginning 💙🌍
I miss theeseeeee peoplee. Had the time of my life during this project. Looking forward to meeting all of you guys again. ❤❤❤#love #SocialAdvertisingForPeace #youthexchange #erasmusplus