First of all – nature and weekly hiking trips. Of course we do have amazing landscapes, mountains and forests in Poland too, but it’s not as easily accessible for me there as it is here. Never in my life I have been hiking as much as I do in Madeira.
Secondly, the ocean. The atmosphere of living so close to it is irreplaceable. The salty scent, the sound of waves, the feeling of space you can only understand it if you’ve experienced that. It’s such a privilege to live one minute away from the beach and just randomly go for a swim whenever you feel like it.
Then there’s the abundance of amazing fruit and vegetables. For that Madeira is heaven. With all the varieties, colours and delicious smells, shopping becomes an aesthetic experience, as well as a practical one. Banana, avocado and mango tress growing in people’s backyard gardens are still something that amazes me.
Talking about food – bolo de caco. It doesn’t get boring. Warm, cold, as a base for a sandwich or plain, fresh from the bakery in the middle of the night – it’s always, always good. People in Poland claim our bread is the best – I don’t think so anymore.
And last but not least – living in an international environment and meeting people of various cultures and with different stories. It’s so cliché, but once you’ve experienced that, it’s hard to go back to “normal” surroundings. Also not using English and Portuguese on a daily basis will be something I miss a lot.
I feel truly blessed to have been given the opportunity of spending six months on this island. My life here has been so diverse, colourful, exotic, exciting and pure that even just the thought of leaving this place seems extremely boring.
Katarzyna Kozak, a volunteer from Wroclaw, Poland. Arts, culture and foreing languages have always been her interest in school, in her professional life and as a hobby. She worked for several cultural institutions, often starting as a volunteer, and especially enjoyed being involved in film festivals and cultural education of youth. In Madeira she studying its history and landmarks to become a tour guide, but also learning Portuguese and traveling around this beautiful 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, which is for the support of reformation policies.
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.