Come meet Anghelina’s stories and adventures, her vast Erasmus+ experience and the challenges she had to overcome.

Q: Hello Anghelina, nice to meet you! Can you shortly introduce yourself?

A: My name is Anghelina, I’m from Ukraine. I’m 26 years old and I graduated from university 2 years ago. Now I’m an English and Spanish teacher and a translator and that’s it!

Q: We’ve been told that you have participated in many different European projects throughout the years. Can you tell us which projects have you participated in and with how many have you been involved?

A: Yes! In total it has been 5 different European Projects: 4 of them were short term Erasmus+ projects (trainings and youth exchanges) and the 1 left was with Mille Cunti, it was an European Volunteer Service, so it was a longer project. I’ve spent 3 months in Spain, and it was a great experience! As for the others, the first one I joined was for youth leaders in the Netherlands and it was only for 3 or for days. After I’ve joined a project in Georgia, the next one was in Latvia and the last one was in Armenia. So, 5 different countries and 5 different kinds of projects!

Q: That’s very impressive! And why have you decided to participate in those projects?

A: There are actually many different reasons… I’ve been studying languages for a long time now and in University I understood that I wanted to get some practical experience and I realized that knowing languages is an excellent tool to be able to explore the world. But I was a student and I didn’t have much money to be able to do this without assistance and help, so I’ve decided to combine education with travelling and exploring other cultures and this was my main motivation. For me it was the best option because in these Erasmus+ projects the programme is so active, you learn so many things, there are so many interesting people around you that you never get bored, it’s super exciting. The first project I applied to I was rejected but I didn’t give up and I kept on sending more applications and it was the right choice because after I arrived from my first project in the Netherlands it was a completely different life for me. I learnt so much about life, about other people and even about myself; much more than I learnt in a whole year back in my university. So yes, combining education with exploring the world and travelling were the main reasons for me to decide to participate.

Q: Which kind of difficulties and problems did you face throughout your Erasmus experiences for being a citizen of a country that does not belong to the EU?

A: The main problem is that we don’t have as many projects and as many opportunities as our peers for the EU. And also, for Ukrainians is much more complicated because we need a visa to enter the EU even if you stay there only for 3 days: you need to apply in the embassy, provide a lot of different documents, and so on. For instance, in my first project I was only in the Netherlands for 4 days but the whole process of getting my papers took weeks and I only received my visa 1 week before the project started. This was very unpleasant because until I received the confirmation, I couldn’t buy the flying ticket so what happened is that I could only buy the ticket 1 week before the departure and the prices skyrocketed. So, the main difficulties were the lack of opportunities, the lack of knowledge about the projects and the whole burocracy.

Q: While you were in Spain in Mille Cunti you took part in a project for promoting the European Union and its projects. So how did it feel for you to participate in this project when your country doesn’t even belong to the EU?

A: It was an interesting experience because my teammates were from the EU and I wasn’t. But it turned out to be a good thing because I was an outsider so I could provide a different point of view. In my opinion, it’s part of the human nature that when you have something in the palm of your hand, you don’t appreciate it. So I was in a position where I could see more clearly the advantages of being part of the EU: all the amazing projects you can take part in, the fact that there are no borders, so you can just randomly decide and go everywhere you want, etc. For instance in my case, even in the short period in the past where Ukraine suspended the need for visas to enter the EU, you still needed many papers proving you had a return plane ticket, a place to stay, enough money to travel, the motive of your journey… it’s much more difficult. So, I could basically explain people why the EU is so cool and try to make them appreciate things that we simply do not have.

Q: From all the projects that you have participated in, which one did you like the most and why?

A: Definitely the answer would be Spain. It was a long-term project, so firstly, I’ve spent there a longer period of time; secondly, I really liked the country and the culture. And, of course, because of Mille Cunti! Mille Cunti is an organization that is very active locally and which provides a lot of different activities (European projects, language classes, theatres with children, writing a blog, and much more) and volunteers are involved in all of them. So, I really enjoyed this experience because not only I got to understand the local culture better, but also because I participated in all kinds of different activities and contribute in all of them and  I met amazing people from the association but also Spanish people in general. I felt very accepted for who I am.

Q: Last question: would you recommend to other young people to participate in these European projects?

A: Yes, I would certainly recommend. To be honest, after my experience I engaged my friends and acquaintances to participate in these Erasmus+ activities and actually a lot of people decided to try on these experiences because of my testimonial. And I’m very happy because all of them are very satisfied with their stories. And I would recommend as well because you learn stuff that you could never learn in school: is a totally new world that makes you more open-minded and helps you to understand life and those around you better.

Interview by Carolina Ramon da Fonseca

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