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Madeira: Health SPA

Which of these seems more appealing to you : ´home is where your heart is´ or rather ´home is where the money is?

I was born in the Eastern part of Poland, exactly in Lublin City. With its 700-year-long history, picturesque Old Town and 9 universities (public and private) it should attract many young people. So it is, but the problem is that after they graduate from university most of them need to emigrate to find a job either to bigger cities like Warsaw, Cracow or to other European countries.

That is one of the reason why after finishing my degree I did not even try to look for job in my hometown – I chose Cracow instead. After one week, I got it! I guess it was a combination of skill and luck but mostly an advantage of living abroad before. Multinational companies offer there a lot of workplaces in different sectors such as for example financial services or IT. You just need to be able to work in multicultural environment and speak at least two foreign languages.

I immediately fell in love with Cracow, getting lost in its narrow streets and discovering many new places known only by locals. However, what struck me most was the amount and diversity of cultural events and festivals – hard to choose from. Nothing to complain about except one unbearable fact: air pollution.

Cracow is one of the most polluted cities in Poland and Europe and it is noticeable especially in winter. The phenomenon of smog can cause various diseases as asthma, lung cancer, cardiovascular problems, respiratory diseases, birth defects and premature death.

After one year spent in Cracow and having some health problems I was already not sure if I should stay there anymore. On the one hand, particularly in summer, this place is adorable, bustling, attracting many tourists and in general it offers many different possibilities but on the other hand it is dreadful for your healthiness..

I guess that it one of the reason why after almost three years spent in that city I needed to take a deep breath. I suppose Madeira is a perfect place to do that, even if it is ´only a ten-month treatment´. Being close to the ocean helps to improve both: physical and mental well-being. I guess that is why people in Madeira are so relaxed even if they still try to deal with crisis effects and unemployment.

Short bio of the volunteer:

Karolina Szwaj, Polish with a Portuguese/Brazilian soul, volunteering in one of AAUMa’s projects namely history tellers project. Passionate about Romance languages and Lusophony culture as well as travelling as a backpacker.


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.