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Funchal vs. Bludenz

About what my new home has in common with my old one.

About the life in a small town between alps and about the similarities of my old and new home.

Since I was born, I have lived in Bludenz, which is a small town in the western part of Austria. With 15.000 inhabitants it is the smallest town of the federal state Vorarlberg. It has an area from 29,94 km², an elevation of 588 meters and it lies at the meeting point of five valleys.

However, my new home is Funchal. I have lived here since the beginning of August, and although it is so different from my original home, there are a lot of similarities.

Funchal has about 110.000 inhabitants and is 76,14 km² big, so it is a lot bigger than my hometown. But, the two cities look really similar, although in Austria there is no sea. In Funchal and also in Bludenz most of the houses were built up on a hill. That includes having to go up very often if you want to meet some friends or to do something else a little bit further outside of the center.

Furthermore, what both cities have in common is that both areas thrive and depend on tourism. In Austria, during the winter, the skiing-tourism is vital to the town’s economy, but in summer Bludenz is really popular for hiking in the Alps. Funchal, over the course of the year, is famous for hiking trails which includes the enormous amounts of Levada walks across the whole island of Madeira.

Short bio of the volunteer:

I am Julia from Austria and I am eighteen years old. Since the beginning of August, I am part of the Madeira Heritage voluntary program. I like hiking, swimming and reading. I am excited to learn about the culture and history of this wonderful island.


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 (KA3) 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.