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Christmas is here! Or is it?

Three days until Christmas, and this feels even weirder than I expected.

Once again I’m comparing my life here now and my life before this experience. Christmas for me usually means snow, family, lots of candles, snow, dark days and snow. This year I won’t get any of these. Okay, I can arrange the candles myself, but not the other things.

I won’t get most of the real Finnish Christmas food, because for cooking them I would need an oven. Not going to cemetery on Christmas Eve to bring candles for those who we miss, not visiting grandparents on Christmas day and seeing all the relatives at the same time in the same house. Not seeing the face of my little brother when he opens the present that I have made him with lots of love.

But this Christmas I will spend in Madeira, in the residence of the university together with my friends. This year I will eat foods which are typical for other countries’ Christmas tables and hear what they usually do with their families. I will see all the beautiful lights all around Funchal and experience how it is to spend Christmas when it’s warm. I will see how Madeiran people spend their holidays and how they celebrate this beautiful time of the year.

So, of course I’m sad on some way not to spend this time in Finland with my family, but I’m sure that this will be one of the best Christmas of my life.

Short bio of the volunteer:

Karoliina Nissinen, 21. Finnish volunteer, Christmas- lover, but will deny it the whole November and half of December.

Erasmus+

Erasmus+ is a programme of the European Commission embracing the fields of education, training, youth and sports during the period 2014-2020. One of the major aspects is the cooperation between the different fields where the programme acts, hence contributing for a diverse and rich Europe.

Amongst the several goals of the programme, the following are prioritised: the objectives of the Europe 2020 Strategy, including the headline education target; the aims of the strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training (ET 2020), including the corresponding benchmarks; the sustainable development of Partner Countries in the field of higher education; the overall goals of the renewed framework for European cooperation in the youth field (2010-2018); the objective of developing the European dimension in sport, in particular grassroots sport, in line with the EU work plan for sport and the promotion of European values in accordance with Article 2 of the Treaty on the European Union.

In order to achieve these goals, the Erasmus+ has several action policies. The Key Action 1 (KA1) is directed towards the mobility of people; Key Action 2 (KA2) for the cooperation for innovation and the interchange of good experiences; and Key Action 3, which is for the support of reformation policies.

European Voluntary Service

Since 1991 the University of Madeira Students’ Union has developed a wide incentive policy for voluntary work. In 2013 the Students’ Union started the process to receive, send and coordinate Erasmus+ projects of the European Voluntary Service, in order to have a larger influence in the volunteering field. The Union received its first volunteer withing the ambit of a KA1 project in 2014. Many efforts have been done to allow young people from Madeira to take part in several initiatives in Europe, as well as propose several projects allowing young people from several countries to work in the projects of the Students’ Union of the University of Madeira. The main goal of the voluntary work is the contribution of the volunteers to the communities and places they will be staying, being their work not rewarded with payment.

We believe that the European Voluntary Service is a mechanism full of experiences, allowing the approved candidates to have the privilege of taking part in these projects and benefit the places and communities where these volunteers will be staying.

Since 2013, the University of Madeira Students’ Union has received volunteers that have collaborated in several activities and initiatives. Besides being able to enjoy a wonderful experience which will contribute to their personal and professional growth, they are able to contribute in a unique way to the community in which they are inserted and to join dozens of volunteers from the University of Madeira.