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GET OUTSIDE THE BOX COUNTRIES: THE 7th edition December 2009




Colofon Editors in Chief

Tajana Nikolic Simone Dalle Nogare

Editorial Team

Marketa Tokova Madara Apsalone Elena Nikolova Ana Frangova Pavlina Binova Asia Maziarz Maciek Karwowski Natalia Pietraszewska Maria Galeone Celanie Mazzetto Katarzyna Myhan Monika Fuszara Artur Cichocki Lina Nikitinaite Adriana Perez Encinas Judyta Rabiega Clotilde Salin Valya Ivanova Liliya Buykiliiska Margot de Boer Nick Broekema ESN Tilburg ESN Utrecht Markus Oppliger Peter Koekoek

Language Editors Leo Smith Christoph Bachmann Klara Ferdova Gosia Truszczyńska

Design and Illustrations Marc Janson



New Year’s Eve is a time to evaluate the past happenings and make plans for the future adventures. This issue of eXpress is indeed resembling to the magic moment of a year when the past twelve months are nearly gone and the new ones are approaching with big strides.


Every new year is marked with fresh resolutions and plans – what to do better, how to change oneself, or to make the world a better place. What is true for an individual is even more true for an organisation, especially for a young and innovative organisation such as ESN.

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Changing the world around us into a nicer place – friendlier for the international students and more interesting for the local ones – is exactly what I admire on ESN and on all of you – our members! Even more when I skim through the following pages and read about all the projects, events, encounters and experiences.

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This seventh issue of eXpress is bringing you a selection of ESN events, projects and stories from 2009 – the year when ESN celebrated its 20th anniversary. Read and enjoy PRIME (a research of problems in recognition), reports from several ESN meetings, exchange project of ESN Skopje and ESN Slovenia, personal stories from the Erasmus students or introduction of the Netherlands and Bulgaria.


Photography Pavel Kolman Marc Janson

The theme of the next issue:

by: Marketa Tokova

Read but also get inspired – remember?! It is new year – Twenty 10 – the best time to make our next twenty years worth it! There is so much life, energy and good spirit in ESN that there is nothing else than bright future in front of us.


New ERAsmus If you want to write an article, please send it to:

ESN International Rue Hydraulique 15 B-1210, Brussels Belgium


Happy Twenty 10!
















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PRIME Problems of Recognition In Making Erasmus by: Madara Apsalone graphs by: Ismet Lisica

Despite a rapid growth in the past 20 years, the Erasmus program is still facing several challenges: as identified by, among others, the ESN Survey 2006 and 2007 - the recognition of courses studied and competencies gained abroad being among the main obstacles. As a Europe-wide student voice for mobility in international higher education, ESN carried out research to investigate the most common practices at different universities and faculties in Europe, from information provision to prospective exchange students and negotiation of Learning Agreements until students’ actual return and recognition of the competencies gained abroad.

PRIME team

The project started shortly after the AGM Besancon 2008 and 100 higher education institutions from 24 countries and nearly 2400 former exchange students from 52 countries were surveyed till summer of 2009.

Stefan Fiedrich (Austria) – research leader

Giorgio Marinoni (Italy) – idea & application Matthias Fenner (Switzerland) – project coordination Emanuela Ascoli (Italy) – project coordination Marketa Tokova (Czech Republic) – project coordination Piotr Cylke (Poland) – IT

Tomas Bort (Czech Republic) – quantitative research Madara Apsalone (Latvia) - quantitative research

PRIME student respondents(n=2251)

Tony Filoni (Italy) - quantitative research Daphne Scherer (Italy / Denmark) – qualitative research Julia Panny (Austria) – report Ismet Lisica (Bosnia and Herzegovina) – design University usage of the ECTS

Information about exchanges According to the PRIME research results, International Relations Offices and Faculty Coordinators were the most mentioned information providers, followed by ESN. Meetings with interested students, seminars and sessions about studies abroad as well as the internet and PR material were found to be the most used means of informing students about the Erasmus program. Representatives of universities agreed that personal ways of informing students are the most effective


An absolute majority of PRME surveyed universities used the ECTS credits and almost half of them calculated the number of ECTS credits according to course workload. Furthermore, the survey looked at the Learning Agreement as a negotiated and binding arrangement between the Erasmus student, the home and the host institution. Almost all of the interviewed institutions provided a LA for Erasmus students prior to leaving - usually between 2 to 4 months before the beginning of the exchange. Recognition The Erasmus Student Charter states that Erasmus students are entitled to expect full academic recognition from their home university for credits achieved during the Erasmus study period, in accordance with the Learning Agreement. In the PRIME study, only 2/3 of the Erasmus students – with a valid Learning Agreement signed prior to their stay abroad – had their courses fully recognized afterwards. Almost 30% received partial recognition leaving a minority of about 4% with no recognition at all. However, according to PRIME higher education institutions, an average of 3/4 of their outgoing students is expected to get full recognition.


PRIME student respondents(n=2251)

PRIME research identified five main obstacles for full recognition: individual problems of students (such as unfinished courses or unsatisfactory grades), incompatibility of study programs, problems with the calculation of course credits, organizational issues and problems to recognize certain courses – especially language courses or mandatory courses at the home institution. Some evidence was found that course recognition is related

Local conferences Stockholm, Sweden - 5th November Rome, Italy - 13th November Sofia, Bulgaria - 20th November

Recognition challenges (n=755)

to the home institution of students, as well as to whether parties responsible for the recognition are identical to those signing the Learning Agreement. Only small differences in an average recognition were identified among different fields of studies. On the other hand, there was no evidence that course recognition varies in different levels of studies (Bachelor or Master) or between the exchange durations of one semester or a year. Furthermore, there is no meaningful relation between recognition and the amount of information on the recognition procedures the student had acquired in advance. ESN concluded PRIME study with recommendations for the EC and other Erasmus stakeholders to make European aim of 20% mobile students by 2020 a reality. ESN is, moreover, planning to continue PRIME research also in 2010.

Bonn, Germany - 21st November Kaunas, Lithuania - 25th November Madrid, Spain - 27th November Prague, Czech Republic - 1st December Tallinn, Estonia – 12th December Riga, Latvia – 18th December Bologna, Italy – December Parma, Italy - 18th December





by: Asia Maziarz & Maciek Karwowski ESN UG Gdansk, Poland

Everyone who has been involved in ESN activities probably already knows what Eurodinner is. Tasting various dishes from all over Europe takes place during international ESN meetings as well as other events. To organize a Eurodinner a section of ESN needs only to inform its exchange students that they may prepare food typical of their countries. Having done this, all that is left is to enjoy the variety of cuisines from all over Europe. An interesting idea would be to organize a meal including cuisine typical of the region in which exchange students are on their Erasmus. It is an excellent opportunity to familiarize them with the local folklore and have fun at the same time. Fun is even greater when such a meeting takes place during any kind of celebrations, such as Christmas. In the middle of December 2009 ESN UG section from the city of Gdańsk will organize EuroChristmas Dinner for its students again. It is going to be a very special meeting. Poles will prepare traditional Polish food, such as: pierogi, beetroot soup, carp in jelly and poppy-seed cake. Exchange students will also prepare Christmas dishes typical of their countries. And so, the participants will be presented with delicious dishes from many European countries such as: Spain, Italy, France, Germany and Slovakia. This year’s EuroChristmas Dinner is going to be special for another reason. It will be held in Wróblówka Restaurant where at the beginning and the end of each term party for exchange students is organized. The place is characterized by its unique interior design in hunting style. Typical Polish and Kashubian dishes are served there and a Kashubian folk dance and song ensemble familiarizes the guests with the folklore. Unfortunately, there is not going to be a Kashubian performance during the international Christmas Eve, but the exchange students will be familiarized with Polish tradition of Christmas Carrols and in turn they will teach their traditional Christmas Carrols. Apart from cooking and singing together, also dressing a Christmas Tree and exchanging presents are scheduled. To put it simply – it will be an unforgettable Christmas!


by: Pavlína Bínová ESN Pilsen, Czech Republic

NEP and CEP – two different regions, different nature, meals and habits. Nevertheless there was a connection with plenty of things last month, mainly the enthusianism of the OC, that wanted to do their best to ensure a comfortable stay for ESN participants at these international meetings. Both meetings had their good sides and bad sides. I would like to compare my experience in two ways: freetime activities and official program. In my opinion, the official program – especialy presentations – were equally good at both platforms. On the other hand I must say, that we still have to work on improving the quality of workshops. I attended really good workshops and enjoyed them, but I also had a feeling, that a quite large amount of them were bad and instead of it I would rather spend my time on other activities. Mostly, the problem was in the leadership of these workshops. Conversely I would like to thank you these people, who took great pains to do their own workshop. Free time is a chapter for itself and that’s why I would like to highlight a few points for each platform, which helped me or made my stay more comfortable. CEP – the unforgettable gala dinner in 30th style; bottles of 0,5liter water on eurodinner, party and during the meetings; waiting OC for us at the railway station when we arrived; T-shirts for remembrance of CEP. NEP – Halloween dinner; perfect food during all period of NEP; letting us cook for eurodinner; very kind OC. NEP was more attractive for me in light of place, because CEP took place in my country and city, which I know. Each platform fascinated me by itself and it was pleasant to share the ESN experience from different parts of Europe.




by: Natalia Pietraszewska ESN Kozminski Warsaw, Poland

DISCOVER EUROPE 2010 is the seventh edition of a well-known international contest for all European students organized by ESN Poland. Over the years Discover Europe achieved popularity and recognition thanks to giving an opportunity for young people to develop and improve photography skills, share impressions from the stay abroad and show the diversity of European culture and tradition. Our main goal for this edition is to expand Discover Europe to every academic city in Europe. Promotional events organized by polish ESN-ers, materials expanded through the whole network and collaboration with the biggest companies make it possible to promote participants with their photos on a big scale. It doesn’t matter if you have already been exchange student or not and if you are a professional photographer. If you have any pictures that you want to show and be proud of them you can’t miss this chance! Registration is open from 1 February till 31March but you can already subscribe to our newsletter to be up-to-date and don’t forget about any deadline. To join us visit This year, you can submit photos in every of 3 categories: 1. Citizen of Europe – showing various images of people living in Europe. 2. My Europe, my home – showing outstanding and picturesque places, buildings or landscape. 3. Surprise me, Europe! – showing funny, intriguing or exceptional situations or events. Of course, like in every competition there are attractive prizes waiting for the winners together with an invitation for a final gala in Warsaw in the middle of May, where the results will be announced. Now you shouldn’t have any doubts, just Discover Europe with your camera and see you in Warsaw

ERASMUS PROGRAMME IS FOREVER! by: Maria Galeone Erasmus student in Brussels 2009/10 When I decided to start the Erasmus programme I did not know what to expect from this experience; what the word “Erasmus” really meant, that is, I ignored that an entire world would hide behind this and that it would represent a sea of knowledge and experiences. It all began completing an announcement and many of them would have thought “Just imagine if I will be the chosen one!”. Until the day you get to know to be first on the list. Suddenly you realize that this will change your life, I mean, a part of my life (we’re talking about 5 months in this case!): you will study in a foreign country, you will live with people from all countries, you will be far from your loved ones. My great experience started about two months ago, and if I have to sum up all what I have seen and lived using one word I think that “surprising” will be the right word. In my opinion this experience positively changes your point of view and your beliefs with the strength of an hurricane your habits. Along the way you have the possibility to have many friends that advise and know you as you have known each other all your lives. I refer to all volunteers, and not, that work every day in order to make the ESN (Erasmus Student Network) become a reference point for students that provides the possibility to interact each other. This represents the aim of the “human machine” called ESN. Providing interaction among the young from all countries represents the reason that pushes million boys to join ESN; ESN Bruxelles organizes a lot of events for Erasmus students (such as plays, trips, parties). An event that I never forget is the “Italian evening”, an event organized by Italian Erasmus students thanks to ESN and the Bruxelles Ritscafè. We wanted to make known our culture to foreign students, that came that night, we showcased two of the most important Italian film masterpieces such as “il Postino” and “La vita è bella” and obviously we had cooked them a plate of Italian Pasta. Moreover The Erasmus Programme gives me the opportunity to know other students and share each other’s joys. I’m really happy and satisfied to choose Bruxelles as my Erasmus destination. It is a heterogeneous town: French, Flemish and German are the languages spoken. Bruxelles is a cultural melting pot that students, involved in the International Exchange programs, help to enrich. If I came back I’d make the same things. Who knows whether after this experience I could also decide to join ESN to help other students to start the Erasmus “trip”, to learn to live with foreign students and to respect other’s point of views.



Show Your Country is a new type of article you will find from this issue on in the eXpress Magazine. The main goal is to give ESN countries an opportunity to introduce themselves to the rest of the ESN – present their sections, activities, traditions, special events and way they take care of international students. In each eXpress, two ESN countries will present themselves – and we start with the oldest and youngest ESN country: the Netherlands and Bulgaria. Enjoy getting to know the other ESNers!

the NETHERLANDS The Netherlands, a country in western Europe, enclosed by Germany in the east, Belgium in the south and the northsea in the west and north, is a country known for its wooden shoes, windmills, tulips, cheese, but of course also for its drugs. But what is the Netherlands actually? The Netherlands officially became a kingdom in 1816, when the Souvereign Prince of the Netherlands Willem V of Orange was crowned king. The country had a rough time behind it, with first their domination of the sea with their ships, the slavery trade, the occupation of Indonesia, settlement of New Amsterdam (also known as New York), the overtaking of Suriname, and finally the domination of the French in the Netherlands, when some rest returned to the country. During the period under Willem V, also Belgium and Luxembourg were temporarily part of the country, but they liberated themselves. In the 20th century the Netherlands was one of the leading countries with the founding of several international organizations, like NATO, but also with the EU. ESN in the Netherlands The first ESN section was founded in Utrecht, the Netherlands, in 1989. Since that moment the Netherlands has grown to a country with 15 sections. Over 11.000 students yearly come on their exchange to the dutch sections, and get helped by ESN.


PASSPORT capital: Amsterdam language: Dutch area: 41.526 km2 population: 16,5 million government: Constitutional Monarchy EU accession: 25 march 1957


A DAY IN ESN UTRECHT’S LIFE To give you an impression of how the life of the board of the oldest ESN section looks like, I will describe a regular Monday of ESN Utrecht. To start the week freshly, we always kick off with the board meeting at 10.00AM. During the three hours of the meeting we discuss the agenda which is set up by the president. We evaluate organized activities, go through the planning for the upcoming week and discuss what everybody is going to do in the next few days. After the meeting we have lunch altogether before the office opens at 01.00PM. Every working day the office is open from 1.00PM till 6.00PM. During these hours internationals can walk in and the two of us who are on the schedule sell tickets for upcoming activities, answer questions of the international students and have a cup of tea or coffee with them. The rest of the board starts with whatever he/she has to do: the President sends important documents to the University and has a meeting with the neighbors (the international student organizations SIB and AEGEE); the Secretary tries to be creative and writes the Weekly E-mail; the Treasurer cleans up the “financial closet”; the Fundraiser goes to one of ESN’s partners in Utrecht and begs for more money; the PR coordinator updates the website and designs posters to promote the next theme party; the Activities Coordinator checks one more time if the bowling center still knows that we are coming with a bunch of internationals that evening; and the Culture Coordinator calls dozens of different restaurants to make sure that next Saturday we have reserved the best and cheapest restaurant of Amsterdam for our Amsterdam Excursion. In the afternoon two of us go (in suit and with medals) to an oration held by someone who is appointed professor or promoted by Utrecht University. At 6.00PM the Office Hours are over and everybody hurries back home to throw one of the (in stock laying) pizza’s in the oven and eats as fast as possible because at 8PM it is time for an activity. Tonight “Fun with balls” is scheduled, or in other words: we will go bowling. We as board aim to go with all of us to all activities to increase the integration with international students. We bowl for two hours and at 10PM it is finally time to go home and get some sleep. The next day we wake up early again to go on with the work that we finished with on Monday…

ESN TILBURG ESN in Tilburg, that means: 280 exchange-students, 48 Dutch mentors and 5 board members doing a bunch of fun and cultural activities together (and of course a lot of partying;). ESN Tilburg is a relatively small section, but I believe very special. Because of our dinner-system we have become a really tight group, I’ll explain how it works: Our students are divided into mentor groups and have 3 personal mentors for the whole semester. Every Tuesday we have dinner, a native dish, at a student’s place with two mentor groups together. Every week with another group, so everyone will get to know each other! After the dinner we all go to our famous bar: De Lamme Goedzak or, as pronounced by our exchange students, “the LG”. The LG is a really old typical Dutch bar and it’s the perfect place for a good international party. Every other week we give the exchangers the opportunity to misbehave in disguise at our theme parties, so far we’ve had Welcome to Holland, toga, sexchange, pyjama and 70s&80s party. Because our group is so tight there’s a lot of social pressure to dress up and almost everyone lives up to this expectation, which leads to really colourful evenings! The next day (read: afternoon) the students come by to sign up for activities, excursions and to share their hangover with the board. This is exactly why being in the organisation ESN Tilburg is such a great experience and why ESN is an indispensable contribution to international life.



ESN GRONINGEN PUBQUIZ The ESN section in Groningen organizes 67 activities during this first semester of the academic year 2009-2010. We organize all our activities with passion and dedication. Even though the Dutch weather is horrible now and all the excursions were sold out so far, rain or no rain. We have had international students from all over the world cooking food typical for their country. ESN Groningen organized the very multi-cultural International Games of Groningen, with participants battling against each other for the prizes and the honor that victory brings. It was a bit surprising that they were eventually won by a Dutch team, but that shows that the Integration between Dutch and International students in Groningen is getting better. So far, the board of ESN Groningen is very happy with the activities that we organized and their popularity, but we felt there was something missing. The night of the 29th of October 2009: it was, as usual in autumn, a cold and dark night in Groningen. Some Dutch people where even complaining about the cold, which states that it was not that pleasant outside. Inside the Pacific bar nobody even thought about the coldness outside, they were playing the ESN Groningen PubQuiz. Before the PubQuiz had started, there was a line in front of the Pacific bar, which is the hangout place for International students in Groningen. Even though it was the first PubQuiz organized by ESN Groningen, the popularity was enormous. A month of preparations by the newly installed PubQuiz committee, who produced the whole PubQuiz themselves, was needed. Great questions were asked like: Which sixteenth century humanist wrote the treatise The Praise of Folly? Or questions like: Which U.S. president served the shortest term? The best question of the whole night: How many countries are there in the world? The PubQuiz was open to Dutch and International students, there were eight rounds of ten questions, and a Dutch team won again! How it is possible that the Dutch students keep beating the International students in Groningen we don’t know. We hope that the reason is that the International students in Groningen are having such a good time and are enjoying the ESN activities so much, that they want to give something back by not playing at their best and let the Dutch win. We love the International students, they are so kind to us!



ESN VU-NIVERSE From the 27th till the 29th of November ESN VUniverse organizes a hitchhike contest to Berlin!! On Friday morning at 7 o’clock we gather in front of the VU to start our hitchhike adventure. There we will give all the information (a map, etc.) that the students can start their hitchhike trip in a good way! We know that it’s early but this should give the students give enough time to reach Berlin (it’s about 600 kilometres, and approximately it will take between 7 and 14 hours)! The students have to travel in couples, and we prefer that it is a male-male/male-female couple for safety reasons. In total there will be 60 students that will come with us to Berlin. From our board, a couple of us will go by train to arrange everything in Berlin before the first students will arrive. Some of us will hitch-hike as well. The first couple that will get to Berlin, is given a price of 30 euro’s each. We experienced that international students are very fond of money-prices as Amsterdam is quite expensive to live in :). In the evening we gather in the lobby of the hostel for our first Berlin’s nightlife experience. After a short night and a nice breakfast we arranged a guided tour by “Insiders Berlin”, along Berlin’s hotspots of the 20th century. In the afternoon the students are free to do whatever they want to do so they can explore the city and in the evening we meet again for a tasty dinner and a pub crawl. The guided tour of approximately 2 hours and the pub crawl is booked by the same company so we get some discount. We are going to 3 pubs and 1 nightclub, were we get one free drink in all of them. After an even shorter night we leave the hostel to go back to Amsterdam by bus around noon so students will be able to get back to their apartments before public transportation stops that night in Amsterdam and they will be well-rested at their classes the next Monday. Besides the hitch-hike contests (we probably do another one next semester to Brussels) we organise a lot of other activities like bowling, paintball, Sinterklaas, ice-skating, Amsterdam dungeon and city trips, for example to The Hague. Also, every week we have a ‘borrel’ (Dutch for socializing with a drink) on Thursday night from 9 p.m on different places in Amsterdam. In the first week every semester we organise ISI (International Student Introduction) days for the new arrived students to introduce them to our organization and get them familiar with Amsterdam. This is always a great success!



ESN VMU, GROWING STEP BY STEP by: Lina Nikitinaitė ESN VMU, Lithuania

A year ago nobody could have imagined that in the year 2009 Vytautas Magnus University would have an Erasmus Student Network (ESN VMU) section. The International Relations office all the time was offering for mentors to establish it in VMU. Now it’s a reality. Every Thursday ESN VMU members, around 40, is going to meet, to say “Hello” to each other, to play and get know what has happened during a week in our small “world”. But how did it happen? Firstly, I got opportunity to study in Estonia, Tallinn courtesy of Erasmus, and I did it. It was an incredible time and I need to say “Thank you!” to ESN Tallinn, because of them I had the best time ever, which I spent with other Erasmus and at the end of my studies there I got the idea to establish ESN in my study town Kaunas. Once again, I did it. We have existed just two months, but we have done quite a lot, even though we are really young. We had: • two parties, one is in the pipeline, • one big event in the biggest leisure center in Kaunas there Erasmus students got opportunity to represent their country for Kaunas society; • we have TANDEM evenings; • we celebrated ESN 20 Birthday; • we are going to St. Petersburg for 5 days; • we organized ESN Lithuania meeting, after which we decided to established ESN Lithuania organization; • we organized “Team building” training and one more is upcoming; • we are preparing a PRIME conference and we are involving people with disabilities in working in ESN VMU. It’s quite a lot, isn’t it? ESN VMU is growing step by step and I am more than happy about that, because everyone is trying to do everything as well as possible, to experience as much as possible and the most important thing is to help Erasmus students according to the principle SHS – Students Helping Students. The most important thing, I think is that we must be grateful for ESN, that we have opportunity to mix with people from abroad, to think about one goal, to be together and to see the world as providing opportunities to grow, to improve yourself and be a good person.



TWENTY, C’EST LA VIE !! by: Celanie Mazzetto ESN Nancy, France

I’m 20 years old. ESN is 20 years old. What a coincidence! For you guys it’s just useless information, just an insignificant detail about a French girl. For me it’s a bit more, it’s a sign, it means something. 20, two-zero, two like a pair, zero like nothing; the mix of an entity and an abstraction... Lots of things in life work in pairs: humans, lungs, harms, legs, eyes, ears, right and left, North and South, East and West, hot and cold, boy and girl, black and white, Europe and citizens, ESN and exchange students, etc. ESN, this big institution, this family, these people, it means a lot; it means Europe, English, exchange, network, culture or even future. I had just a vague idea of these notions 14 months ago (a short time ago, I filled in a feedback form concerning the NEP in Stockholm and I had to tell how long I have been involved in ESN [in months], 14 months in my case. Yep, as you can see, feedback forms are not only useful for ESN! :D), but now I know, and I don’t want to leave it. Now it’s a part of me, like a new organ (a blue, green, orange and pink organ) which helps me to live and enjoy my life. I started my ESN adventure last year in September when I joined ESN Nancy. At this moment, I had absolutely no idea about the international level, the importance of this association and the number of people involved in this cause. Then, I went to my first international event, the SWEP 2008 in Milan. I was a bit scared to have to speak English (everyone knows how hard it could be for French people to speak English and how weird/ugly can be our French accent…), to meet so many new people, to have to represent my section whereas I was just a newbie in my section, to go in an unknown city, … But on the premises, I discovered what are really ESN, the ESN spirit -the famous PALLOMERI- and the ESN Network. This unbelievable and united network which makes things being possible, which helps everyone to be a better person, which helps thousands international students to enjoy their exchange experience. However, at the present time, I’m not really an active member in my section anymore because I’m making my exchange year in Denmark. I’m discovering the other part of the job, I’m just an Erasmus who wants to have fun, discover new cultures, speak other languages and all of these exchange student stuff lots of you guys already know. Therefore – and unfortunately – I forgot a bit ESN during this last semester. And I only realised how I missed ESN while the last ESN International event I went to (the NEP in Stockholm, the last 5th-8th November). Yes, I miss my section, I miss the fact of having responsibilities, the fact of helping exchange students, the fact of making them discover my city and the French culture: I miss everything. Of course, it’s important for me to be here as a normal exchange student, but it’s different in my case, different as for the other ones. A part of me already uses to know different cultures or different languages (or accent from everywhere in Europe). Maybe I do the things in the wrong way because lots for ESNers join ESN after their exchange year/ semester, but it doesn’t change anything, I’m still sure of something, when you start with ESN, you’ll be an ESNer all your life long! So, now how do I see my future in ESN, good question. I’m just convinced of something, I want to keep talking English in my everyday life and I want to be more active in the ESN international level, that’s in part why I’m writing this article. I don’t want to go back in France, but I don’t want to stay here. As I said few days ago to an other ESN member, I’m not really French anymore, but I’m not Danish either, I’m just an ESNer.



Show Your Country is a new type of article you will find from this issue on in the eXpress Magazine. The main goal is to give ESN countries an opportunity to introduce themselves to the rest of the ESN – present their sections, activities, traditions, special events and way they take care of international students. In each eXpress, two ESN countries will present themselves – and we start with the oldest and youngest ESN country: the Netherlands and Bulgaria. Enjoy getting to know the other ESNers!


Bulgaria is a country in south-eastern Europe. It is situated in the heart of the Balkan Peninsula. Not a lot of people know that the old name of the longest mountain in the country Stara Planina was Balkan and that it gave the name of the whole peninsula. Our neighbors are five countries (Macedonia, Serbia, Romania, Turkey and Greece) and a sea (the Black sea). Bulgaria is the country of roses and lions, of beautiful women and brave men, of heavy past and bright future. Bulgaria was officially founded in 681 which makes it one of the first states in Europe. Well, the Bulgarian state is a lot older than that, but in 681 the Bulgarians moved and started living where they still do. In the Middle Ages Bulgaria is one of the leading countries in the south-eastern part of Europe. Our past is victorious and glorious and it is definitely worth a reading. We had our ups and downs that lasted a few centuries and at the end of the XIX century the Bulgarian state was reestablished in what it is now. What makes us different?! So many things! But let me only mention the Cyrillic Alphabet and the weird way we nod our heads in order to say “yes” and “no”. Yes, we do it the other way round! We are not just like the rest of the world ;) Don’t be surprised if when talking to a Bulgarian he/she says “no” and nods “yes” with his/ her head. We are different! We are special! ESN in Bulgaria The first ESN section (ESN Sofia university) was approved by CND Gdansk in 2008. Now ESN Bulgaria has two sections, but the network is expected to grow soon. We missed 19 years of ESN history, but we are designing its future!


PASSPORT capital: Sofia language: Bulgarian area: 110.910 km2 population: 7.6 million government: Parliamentary democracy EU accession: 1 january 2007



Everybody knows the process. A baby is born. It is born because of love between two people. It was the same with our section. It was born because of the love between a few enthusiasts. And it started……..crying. You know – the small babies are very sweet and once you look at them you start loving them. But at the same time they cause so many headaches. The baby period wasn’t easy – dealing with universities and convincing them that we have good intentions. After that the baby starts crawling – we started with a few parties organized, one or two excursions. The baby also starts getting in touch with other babies or kids – we start finding some partners or organizations to help us. The baby also starts talking. Just one – two words at the beginning, but after that more and more. It happened the same way with ESN Bulgaria – various forms of the media started to write some small articles. After that our Erasmus students gave us some positive feedback….And then it happened – the big event. The baby was big enough to be baptized. On this ceremony all relatives are supposed to come and become proud of their little baby. That was our BEST. Fifty happy ESN people just saw how the new-born baby has grown. The baby was already bigger and stronger and they felt proud. Here may be I have to run away for a while from the metaphor, because this event was so strong as a feeling. Many people, who had the idea that party shouldn’t end for at least a week, were more than satisfied. Satisfied by our col-

by: Liliya Buykiliiska ESN SU, Bulgaria

laboration, by our dedication, by the very well built program. We don’t want to boast but we received so much positive feedback and we found so many ESN friends that we were inspired - inspired to make more events, to realize our ideas, even to fly. And once the baby was baptized it started growing very fast – with the start of the new school year the number of our members doubled and that’s why the ideas waiting for implementation turned into a great big mountain. Right now we organize parties in a different disco every week and have so many opportunities that hopefully soon we would have two Erasmus parties per week. We have a small event every weekend – like hiking in the mountain, horse riding, ballet or musical visits, carting and paintball. Not only do we party but we also travel. Every month we have an excursion in the countryside and the last one was the most successful – 120 out of around 200 Erasmus students from all over the country came with us to a joint excursion. So be together not only with your friends but Erasmuses. To show that the baby is already grown and responsible we decided to organize a meeting with the wizards of the kingdom – a PRIME conference. Hopefully it will be successful, because till now we have confirmation from the international offices of Universities in five different cities and one vice minister…. So we hope that the baby would become big and famous enough….And who knows? Maybe next year it would go to school?



TRIP TO TARNOVO by: Valya Ivanova ESN SU, Bulgaria

I passed five wonderful months in Bruxelles during my Erasmus stay last year. The local student organization was very useful for all of us coming from all over the world. That’s why when I heard about Erasmus Student Network in Bulgaria I joined it immediately. I wanted to share my personal experiences and opinions as a member. There are of course many parties, every week, even more than one per week. Yes, ESN Sofia is very active! It is not only about parties, but also cultural events such as opera and theatre visits, mountain walks, visits to museums and of course, some big trips! Let me tell you about the first ESN BG trip that I attended. The destination was the old capital of Bulgaria – Veliko Tarnovo. More than 150 Erasmus students from Sofia, Varna, Ruse, Blagoevgrad, Veliko Tarnovo gathered for 3 days in this Bulgarian city full of history. It was amazing! We visited the Etura national park, Shipka - commemorate peak and national monument, old Turnovo fortress and castle, the Museum of history in the city where the first Bulgarian


constitution was signed. Some of us visited the Arbanasi monasteries, situated three kilometers away from Tarnovo. We were lucky because we had the chance to see the light show ’’Sound and light’’. It’s a tourist night show with special effects, which represents different parts of the Bulgarian history. The party time was obligatory. Two hard nights in two of the biggest disco clubs in the city. We also had dinner in a typical Bulgarian restaurant with traditional food and drinks from the region. The drinking games were one of the funniest parts of the trip. Before coming back to Sofia we went to ’’Sueva Dupka’’ called a “pearl” among the Troyan cave because of its exclusive beauty. Animal bones, clay vessels, coins dating back from the time of the Roman Empire and Emperor Anthony were found there. To cut the long story short – it feels great to be a part of ESN. I spent 3 great days in Tarnovo and felt like an Erasmus student again.



by: Markus Oppliger

swiss way


Put the cheese in the Caquelon (Fondue pot). Heat the pot under continuous stirring, till the cheese is melted. Fondue cooking is dangerous =). The second biggest danger in cocking Fondue is, that the cheese sticks to the ground and gets burned.

2. 3. 4.

Reduce the heat under the pot. Add some spices to the cheese. Now you can stick a bread cube on your fork. Stir some rounds in the form of an eight with the bread in in the Caquelon. Take rounds stirring as the cheese has to be always in motion. Take the bread out and enjoy!


The biggest danger in eating fondue is due to the following rules of engagement:

If the bread slips of the fork into the cheese, one of the following things has to be done by the convicted (in the following called person):

a) The person needs to sing a song. b) The person dances (...) a dance. c) The person kisses the person on her/his left hand side. d) The person drinks a lot of wine

(Free translation of the Swiss law SR 817.022.21 Art 11)



ESN SWIEZYNKI/STARZYNKI 09 by: Katarzyna Myhan,Monika Fuszara, Artur Cichocki ESN Olsztyn, Poland

It is hard to describe in several words what was going on during this weekend, indeed a lot was happening. All had started when Olsztyn was flooded with ESN freshmen and veterans from all over Poland. Our weekend’s adventure began with integration at Kortowo’s club, Agros. New comers introduced themselves, and the old ones fell in to each other’s arms. After a while, we felt like everybody had known each other for ages. To add some splendor to Friday night, teams of coordinators from different departments performed. Each team consisted of new members from various cities. People that had never met before were asked to prepare dance choreography and write a poem in honor of ESN. After this more official beginning the real party started. That’s when lifetime friendships were initiated, in certain cases something more than that;). Anyway, we had many reasons to gossip the day after. Dancing craziness finished in the middle of the night, but as usually happens after parties that are too short and not long enough in the club, and when tiredness does not matter, an after party continued in the dormitories. Unfortunately, for the greatest party animals, as soon as the morning began the training managed by board of ESN Polska started. Coffee and Red Bull were the main two reasons that enabled us to memorize information and 70 new names. The first part of training was related to ESN activity, but was also about programs to be carried out on local, national and international levels. After a short break, we had to get rid of any timidness that was left over and count on our new friends, playing a game in which 7 people had to touch the floor only in two places. There were plenty of ideas, thankfully the men turned to be strong and were able two hold two girls on their arms without even a blink. The most relevant part though was working on what we shared about what makes us different. There is much that differentiates us, but there is more that we have in common. Assisting Erasmus students in adjusting to a different realities abroad is indeed helping us in learning new languages, interacting with various people, as well as being a great lesson in tolerance and compromise. By late afternoon we were able to listen to songs sung by the bonfire, ride horses and drink warm tea together. Horses with instructors were at our disposal. Meanwhile, freshmen played the game farmer-potatoes. This game’s purpose was to form a group tight enough that others wouldn’t be able to separate them. After fun in open air, we all left to one of the clubs in downtown Olsztyn to play with DJ’s music. There were this year’s Erasmus from Olsztyn at the party. We all had fun till the crack of down. On Sunday morning only the most persistent arrived first, but soon after everybody was there. We completed our edu-


cation about ESN and then it was the time to learn about people and trips. After dinner we took a group picture, and then, unfortunately, it was time to say goodbye. The hugs and promises to meet again as soon as possible were endless. I think that, to more than one of us, that this was one of our greatest weekends. Not only did we met a lot of incredible people, but also we were assured that joining the Erasmus Student Network was the right choice, one that will be delivering the goods throughout our life. Nobody can take away these wonderful moments with wonderful people. I also hope, as a freshman, that this is just the beginning of ESN’s adventure, one that will last as long as possible.


A CHRISTMAS CAROL The Secretary in General comes to the Rescue

by: Peter Koekoek

It is a rainy, windy, western-European winter night when ESNforceOne touches down on the runway of Brussels International. Tension is in the air on board the International Board’s private 737. “This is it,” says President Tokova, “this is the end of Erasmus.” Just this afternoon, President Van Rompuy had announced in his State of the Union speech that the EU would abolish the Erasmus programme, in an effort to cut costs. Upon hearing this devastating news, the International Board immediately returned to Brussels from a Christmas party in Helsinki. Vice-president Oeselg leads the way as ESN’s international team descends the aircraft’s staircase. They jump into a waiting limousine and swiftly zoom off towards ESN’s headquarters in the center of the European capital. “I can’t believe this is happening,” says Treasurer Christensen. The mood in the limousine is grim, as the pouring rain beats against the tinted windows. “It is not fair,” says European Volunteer Truszczyńska, who is still wearing her Christmas hat. “You arre right, iit is insaane, ande we wille stop it!” says Secretary in General Dalle Nogare suddenly, “I am taking charge of this operation, Tajana, contact our sections.” External Relations manager Nikolic opens her laptop and fires up Skype, “already on it.” Meanwhile, the limousine speeds trough the European Quarter. “Marc, announce on the website that we will organize a demonstration,” barks the Secretary in General as Web Project Administrator Janson types away on his computer. The next day, Secretary In General Dalle Nogare leads a giant mob of thousands of Erasmus students towards the Council building in Brussels. The Secretary in General rides an enormous and fierce Buffalo, somewhat resembling Europa riding the bull, and shouts through a megaphone: “Mister President, you will not abolish Erasmus as long as I am Secretary in General, attaaack!” After announcing this and making a series of passionate Italian gestures, he storms towards the Council on his buffalo, bumping up and down on its hairy back. The ferocious animal, which has trails of hot steam coming out of his nostrils, and its Italian commander are closely followed on foot by Troels, Marc, Gosia, Marketa, Veeli and Tajana who are now frantically throwing little giggling gnomes with pointy red hats towards President Van Rompuy’s office… …When I open my eyes I am slightly disoriented, where am I? As my eyes get used to the darkness and start to focus, I realize that I must be in the ESN House. I lie on a couch bed in the living room and slowly start to remember parts of the nightmare I just had, and what had actually happened the night before. As it turns out, I joined ESN’s international crew for a stroll on the Christmas Market in Brussels’ Sainte-Catherine district, to unwind after a busy week. After ice-skating on the Marché aux Poissons and sampling some Glühwein, we had decided to relax in Cafe Bizon – which has an actual Bizon (Buffalo) hunting trophy mounted above the bar. Many philosophical discussions and some of Belgium’s finest beers - such as La Chouffe (The Gnome) – later, I apparently ended up at the ESN residence on Avenue du Onze Novembre. I softly massage my temples, in a fruitless effort to ease the mild headache I have. But I am relieved at the thought that in reality, Europe would never dream of abolishing the Erasmus programme, which is responsible for shaping and inspiring such a great, new generation of young Europeans and bringing together so many people from all corners of our continent. And if someone would ever want to put an end to Erasmus, it is reassuring to know that there will always be the ESN students, alumni, sections and the International Board in Brussels to passionately defend it. I close the heavy door of the ESN House behind me, disappear into the chilly Brussels morning, and hear the police whistles of a motorcycle security escort on the nearby Avenue de Tervuren. Possibly Van Rompuy’s motorcade. Pallo-Merry Christmas, happy 2010! Peter Koekoek Brussels Correspondent, Express



MOJE DOSWIADCZENIE ERASMUSA by: Judyta Rabiega Polska W Polsce czasem wydaje sie ze pół roku to wieczność... teraz juz wiem na pewno ,że tutaj pół roku to tylko chwila. Trzeba wykorzystać ten czas najlepiej jak się da , bo on leci zdecydowanie za szybko. Aż boję się pomyśleć ,że niedługo to wszystko minie i trzeba będzie szukać nowych niesamowitych przygód i ludzi. Pamiętam jakby to było wczoraj, gdy 2 miesiące temu przerażona wsiadałam do samolotu, żegnałam sie z rodziną i ruszałam na podbój świata o którym nie miałam zielonego pojęcia. Zawsze chciałam przyjechać na dłużej do Hiszpanii, ten kraj ma w sobie jakiś niewytłumaczalny dla mnie magnes no i właśnie spełnia się jedno z moich marzeń-jestem w Jaen! Miasto ma swój klimat i dzięki temu, że jest stosunkowo małe szybko można się w nim odnaleźć i poczuć jak u siebie w domu. Początek był zaskakująco....dobry, spodziewałam się, że nastąpi jakiś szok, a tymczasem miałam i chyba nadal mam tutaj sporo szczęścia przede wszystkim do ludzi! Chociaż wydaje mi się ,że dla osób które nie znają wogóle hiszpańskiego wszystko może być zdecydowanie trudniejsze, bo wbrew powszechnemu przekonaniu angielski nie funkcjonuje w Hiszpanii jako język znany i na co dzień używany. Jakoś nie wyobrażałam sobie, że przeprowadzka do innego kraju będzie przeżyciem tak łagodnym. Już po przyjeździe okazało się, że Hiszpanie to naród niezwykle pomocny .Zupełnie obcy ludzie przyjęli mnie i moich znajomych pod swój dach, pomogli poszukać mieszkania i sprawili, że poczuliśmy się jak u siebie w domu .

iwe przysmaki tutejszej kuchni. Ciekawym przeżyciem było dla mnie także uczestniczenie w życiu kulturalnym Hiszpanów. Miałam niesamowita okazję przeżyć w Jaen jedyną w swoim rodzaju Ferie de San Lucas, która miała miejsce w październiku i trwała tydzień.

Na tutejszym uniwersytecie przydziela się każdemu studentowi z programu Socrates Erasmus osobę , która ma we wszystkim pomóc zaraz po przyjeździe. Było to kolejną miłą niespodzianką, bo mój buddy Alvaro okazał sie niezastąpiony .Zaraz na początku znalazł dla mnie mieszkanie w bardzo dobrej cenie i w samym centrum, pomógł pozałatwiać wiele spraw i w sumie ciągle mogę na niego liczyć. Dzięki temu, że mieszkam z obcokrajowcami mam okazje by rozmawiać i doskonalić swoje umiejętności językowe każdego dnia. Co więcej studia na uczelni zagranicznej są dla mnie wyzwaniem, sprawdzeniem siebie i dowodem na to, że mogę studiować w innym języku. Jednakże Erasmus to przede wszystkim ludzie. Integracja między obcokrajowcami jest niesamowita - jest to jedna wielka rodzina studentów, którzy generalnie wiele rzeczy robią razem. Każdy z nas znalazł się w zupełnie nowej sytuacji i dlatego tak dobrze się wszyscy rozumiemy. Bardzo wiele się tutaj dzieje, począwszy od odkrywania uroków życia nocnego, które tutaj jest o wiele bardziej intensywne niż w Polsce, a skończywszy na problemach dnia codziennego.

Czuję, że jest to jeden z najlepszych okresów w moim życiu, że drugi raz taka podróż się nie powtórzy- nie tylko podróż w inne całkiem odległe miejsce, ale także mam na myśli podróż w głąb siebie. Sprawdzając się w wielu sytuacjach codziennych, można odnaleźć w sobie niesamowita siłę i świadomość tego, że nie ma rzeczy niemożliwych, że z każda sprawą możemy się uporać i wszystko jest na wyciągniecie ręki.

Najbardziej przypadły mi do gustu powszechne tutaj bary Tapas, gdzie za niewielką cenę można wypić i zjeść prawdz-


Byłam zaskoczona, że Hiszpanie potrafią bawić się bez przerwy niemalże 24 godziny na dobę. Można było zauważyć ich niesamowita radość życiową wyrażaną w tańcu, spróbować tradycyjnych potraw popijając orzeźwiające w upalne dni Mojito lub tak popularne Pilikirin. Podziw wzbudzali we mnie dostojni Caballeros na koniach oraz Hiszpanki ubrane w piękne kolorowe suknie do Flamenco. Czas wolny od szkoły staram się wykorzystać na poznawanie regionu, póki co moje plany ograniczają się do Andaluzji, jednak myślę także o podróży do Portugalii, która od zawsze była moim marzeniem oraz do Maroka.

Każdy ma takie same możliwości, a ograniczenia istnieją tylko w naszych głowach. Trudno mi sobie wyobrazić już teraz powrót do domu, ale wiem, ze mój Erasmus nie zakończy się w marcu, będzie trwał znacznie dużej we mnie. Dlatego nie bójcie się podjąć tego wyzwania!!





by: Judyta Rabiega Poland When I’m in Poland, sometimes half of a year seems like eternity… Now I know for sure, that here- it’s just a moment. You should make the most of your time, because it’s definitely passing too quickly. I’m even scared to think, that soon it all will be over and I’ll have to look for new amazing adventures and people. I remember as if it was yesterday , when 2 months ago, I was getting on the plane, fearful, saying goodbye to my family, heading to “conquer the world” that I had no idea about. I’ve always wanted to go to Spain for a longer period of time, for me this country has some inexplicable magnetism. And right now I am living one of my dreams – I’m in Jaen! The city has its special atmosphere, and thanks to the fact that it’s relatively small, you can easily find your way here and quickly start to feel like at home. The beginning was surprisingly good! I’ve expected some kind of cultural shock to occur, whereas I had (and still have) a lot of luck, especially – when it comes to people. Though, I think that for those who cannot speak Spanish at all everything might seem a lot more difficult, because although some peo-

ple believe so – in Spain that the English language is not commonly known or used. Somehow I did not imagine, that moving to foreign country will be such a comfortable experience! Just after my arrival it turned out that Spaniards are a very helpful nation. Complete strangers received me and my friends very warmly, helped with looking for a flat, and made us feel like at home. At the local university each student from Socrates/Erasmus programme , gets a person , who is supposed to help with everything just after arrival. It was another nice surprise for me, because my ‘buddy’ Alvaro turned out to be irreplaceable! At the very beginning he found a flat for me, for a very reasonable price and in the very center! He helped to settle a lot of matters and honestly, I can still count on him. Thanks to the fact that I live with the foreigners , I get a chance to improve my language skills and practice every day. Moreover, studying at foreign university is a great challenge for me. I can see my abilities and it’s a proof that I can study in foreign language as well. However Erasmus above all means PEOPLE. Integration within foreigners is unbelievable! Its like one big family of students, who in general do a lot of things together. Each of us, found himself in completely new situation, and that’s why we all understand each other so well. A lot is going on here, starting with discovering of spanish nightlife, which is a lot more intensive, than for instance in Poland and ending with problems of everyday life. What I like the most here are common here Tapas bars, where for a little price one can taste real delicacies of local cuisine. An interesting experience for me, was also taking part in cultural life of Spanish people. I had an amazing opportunity to live out one of a kind Feria de San Lucas, which took place in October and lasted for a whole week! I was really surprised by the fact that Spanish people can party non-stop almost 24 hours:D You can see wonderful happiness and life joy expressed in dance, taste traditional meals, and drink refresing in those warm days- Mojitos or so popular Pilikirin. I really admired those dignified “Caballeros” on horses and Spanish Women dressed in stunning colorful Flamenco dresses. Time free from studying I’m trying to use for exploring the region, so far my plans are limited to Andalusia , but I’m thinking about a trip to Portugal (which was my dream since I remember) and to Marocco. I feel that it’s one of the best times of my life, that there won’t be a second journey like that- not only in the meaning of trip to faraway place, I mean a trip inside myself as well. Dealing with numerous daily issues, you can find enormous power in yourself and awareness that nothing is impossible, that you can handle even the worst problems and anything you want is within your reach! I believe that everybody has the same possibilities in life – limits exist only in our minds. Right now it’s difficult for me to imagine coming back home, but I know that my Erasmus won’t finish in March, it will last a lot longer in me. That’s why YOU shouldn’t be afraid to take this challenge!!



GET OUTSIDE THE BOX! by: Elena Nikolova, NR MK and Ana Frangova, ESN Skopje


A bilateral youth exchange under the umbrella of Youth in Action Programme

Where? Ohrid & Skopje

When? 22.10.2009 – 02.11.2009

By whom?


ESN Skopje, ESN IBU – candidate section (MK) and ESN Maribor and ESN Kranj (SLO)

Supported by:

Youth in Action Programme and the “Macedonian National Agency for European Educational Programmes and Mobility” European Year of Creativity and Education

The story began in Utrecht, during the AGM 2009. One rainy morning, the two NRs: Klemen (SLO) and Elena (MK), inspired by the ESN spirit around, wrote a creative project about creativity and innovation called Be creative, Be innovative, Be active! The “Macedonian National Agency for European Educational Programmes and Mobility” felt the ESN spirit and creativity in this project and supported by the Youth in Action Programme. Moreover, they awarded the project with the contract personally granted by the EU Commissioner for Education and Culture, Mr. Jan Figel, in the presence of the Minister of Education and Culture, Mr. Nikola Todorov. A Few months later, the story continues...11 crazy Slovenians arrived in Skopje without a clear idea of what to expect in the next 1,2,...12 days ... but when they met with the local people in Ohrid, suddenly, miraculously a loving feeling from the waves of the Ohrid lake fulfilled all of them. Even, the Slovenian Ambassador in Skopje, Mr. Alain Brian Bergant, who opened the project, noticed that.


“This is a kind of exchange that should be obligatory for every ESN section...ESN sections need more exchanges between each others...but the not the regular one, but the ones that are ‘outside the box’” – Participant -Through an exchange of the existing and through gaining some new experiences, through knocking down the stereotypes and the barriers that are placed between two nations, it was working actively on presentation of these two cultures, and their mutual understanding, in order to accomplish the tasks that were given, in as easy and fun way as possible. From the different refreshing warm-ups and interactive games, through researching the whole Erasmus Student Network across Europe and the exchange of the precious experiences that every participant has had, to the classes and presentations how to think, to compose, and later to implement a project, everyone learned how to accomplish lots, with limited resources. We just have to use our imagination that we surely have, to mix it with our creativity and ability to shape the world in a different way from the others, and of course, not to forget to have some fun- organizing dinners with different themes.


Everyone’s word was heard and considered, everyone had a chance to demonstrate their own qualities. We demolished the barriers that were standing between us at the beginning, but we also destroyed our inner barriers, we passed over our fears from failure, and everyone started to believe in their ability to think and act logically, to show its own creative abilities in the making of every aspect of the project. Of course, the group leaders were always here, that were always prepared to help, to improve and give shape to the ideas, when there was a need for that.

“I really had time of my life here and it’s all belong to you all” – Participant --

And on this way, 12 days passed so quickly. Through the fun, different ways of thinking, mutual communication, we achieved friendships that we hope will last for a long, long time. We explored two different cultures, thanks to the “Macedonian and Slovenian Night”, and the cultural exploring of two beautiful towns - Skopje and Ohrid, we enriched our knowledge, we explored two different ways of living- and implemented all of this in the 3 project ideas that were created in Ohrid, and are waiting for further implementation. Everyone accomplished the aim that motivated him to participate on this event, as well as the expectations that everyone had. Our fears, luckily, didn’t become truth, like our hopes became. We got aware that, although we are living either inside, or outside the European Union, and we don’t share the similar lifestyle, we have the same way of thinking and creative expressing. And if we give hands one to another, we can together get outside the box that is pressing us, and achieve our goals.




5 meses en Murcia, y ahora puedo escribir algo sobre esta bella ciudad :)

Hay muchas animaciones todo el tiempo : mercados medievales, espectaculos por la calle, conciertos, ...

Es una ciudad de un tamaño agradable, porque puedes hacer todo andando. El centro ciudad se compone de varias pequeñas calles enlas cuales puede ser dificil orientarse :p Pero una vez recorrida varias veces, no necesitas mas la mapa ! Ademas, no es demasiado grande, es mas como una familia ahi. Se habla Murciano, al principio es dificil entenderlo pero la gente se esfuerza a hablar bien con un Erasmus :p

Y durante las vacacions de Pascua, hay el Bando de la Huerta y las fiestas de Primavera con la Sardina y su entierro ! :p Murcia es siempre de fiesta !

Hay un monton de bares, hay solo que elegir su tipo ! Para las fiestas Erasmus, el Badulake (para bailar y beber gratis cerveza y sangria los miercoles^^), el Shambala (para beber con precios baratos y un ambiente familial). Despues, hay varios lugares simpaticos para tomar unas copas con amigos : el Bosque Animado (decoracion muy chula, a parte del hecho que siempre me he quedado afuera para beber :p) y sus cockteles y batidos RICOS !, el Menos Quarto para despues de las clases y encontrar amigos :), ... Hay todo un barrio con bares cerca de la Universidad. Los ultimos que cierran son el Codigo y el Lancelot. Despues, para las discotecas, hay La Boutique al lado del Centro Fama, y en Atalayas hay un monton (el Teatre :D) Hay muchas heladerias tambien... Mmm ! La cadena Sirvent nos propone helados muy ricos, me gusta mucho la heladeria al lado de la Catedral (los caprichos de ..?) en la que podemosprobar antes de pedir ! Hay tambien una pequeña heladeria barata cerca de la plaza Santo Domingo, en la calle Alfonso X (no recuerdo el nombre, lo siento). Por supuesto, hay un Häagen Dazs, pero como hay un monton de lugares mas baratos, es mejor probar los helados locales !Por el lado de las tiendas, hay varias en el centro ciudad, pero si quieres pasar todo el dia de compras, hay que ir a la Nueva Condomina ! Un centro comercial ENORME ! Y hay tambien Ikea y el Thader (otro centro comercial mas pequeño).Hay un centro de Ocio, el ZigZag, al que llegamos con el tram ! Hay restaurantes y un ciné ! Para ir al cine, hay el Rex (una sala), el Centro Fama (dos salas), y despues el ZigZag, el Thader y el de la Nueva Condomina. Para la cultura, hay museos, pero no es mi parte jaja. Hay el museo Taurino que se puede visitar gratis en un café en el jardin el Salitre :) Y hay varias cosas po toda parte :p Se puede hacer deporte para los que tienen animo de hacerlo, hay varios gimnasios, y hay tambien actividades gratuitas :)


Por el lado de la gente, hay Erasmus de toda parte, y el grupo Erasmus Student Network es muy simpatico (asi que puedes viajar con ellos, es siempre un buen recuerdo !!). Los Españoles te acogen una vez que no vacilas en hablar con ellos ! Y el tiempo, es por supuesto caliente, pero cambia muy rapidamente, cuidado ! Pero para ir a la playa el autobus tarda una hora mas o menos, depiende de la playa que te apetece ! Y la piscina Murcia Parque abre en junio, se debe esperar mas calor para ir :p Asi que ahora, no dudes en elegir a Murcia para ir de Erasmus ! ;)





After five months in Murcia, I can write something about this beautiful city. It is a comfortable-sized city because you can go all over the city on foot. In the centre of the city there are several small streets where orientation can be difficult, but at last you get used to these small streets and you don’t need the map any more! Furthermore, it is not too big. The accent of people from Murcia is a little bit different from the Spanish you are used to listening to, so at first it is not easy to understand the accent, but people make an effort to speak properly with an Erasmus student. There are lots of bars, you only have to choose the kind of bar you prefer! For Erasmus parties, “Badulake” (to dance and drink some free beer and sangria on Wednesdays) and “Shambala” (drinks for cheap prices in a close atmosphere). There are also several nice places where you can take a drink with your friends: “Bosque Animado” (amazing decoration and they prepare delicious cocktails and milk shakes) and “Menos Cuarto” to drink something after your lessons and meet your friends.



There is other area full of bars near the University. The last pubs to close are “Código” and “Lanzelot”. With regard to the discos, you will find some discos in “Centrofama” area like “La Boutique” or in “Atalayas” area like “Teatre”. There are also many ice-cream parlours… For example, “Sirvent” offers you delicious ice-creams. I really like the ice-cream parlour next to the Cathedral, where you can try before ordering! There is other small and cheap ice-cream parlour near Santo Domingo square, in Alfonso X Street (called “El Chambi”). Of course, you will find Häagen Dazs as well, but it is better to try the local ice-creams because there are lots of cheaper places. With regard to the shops, you will find several shops in the centre of the city, but if you really want to spend all day shopping, you have to go to “Nueva Condomina”, a HUGE shopping centre! You will also find Ikea and “Thader” (a smaller shopping centre). There is an entertainment centre called ZigZag, where you can go by tram! There you will find some restaurants and a cinema! If you want to go to the cinema, you have several options: “Rex” (one theatre room), “Centrofama” (two theatre rooms) and also “ZigZag”, “Thader” and “Nueva Condomina”. From a cultural point of view, there are some museums such as the Taurine Museum that you can visit for free and it is located inside a bar in Salitre garden. There are many things to do in Murcia: sport in several gyms, free activities, medieval markets, street shows, concerts… For Easter holidays, there are two very famous parties in Murcia: “El Bando de la Huerta” and “El Entierro de la Sardina”. You have to live and discover these parties by yourself! They are worth! In Murcia, you will find Erasmus students from all over the world and the Erasmus Student Network (ESN) group is very nice (you can travel with them; it will be always a good memory). Spanish people are very welcoming. The weather is hot, but be careful, because it can change quickly! If you want to go to the beach, there is a bus that takes approximately one hour. It depends on the beach you want to go. “Murcia Parque” swimming pool opens in June. Don’t hesitate to choose Murcia to live your Erasmus stay!



GRÜEZI MITEINAND! by: Adriana Perez Encinas

In Spain you can hear many rumors about the Swiss and their country. That for example the landscape was beautiful, there were impressive mountains, many lakes and friendly people. Describing Switzerland, cheese and chocolate can not be missed. But I wanted to see all this for myself. And I have to say that Switzerland offers much more. When I came here I had some worries concerning the language. Because Swiss-German is famous for being “difficult to understand” for foreigners (no, not only that, it is even worse!). But despite of that you won’t pass a year in Switzerland without learning some (essential) basic vocabulary. “Hoi zäme, Wie goht´s? ich bin super fit, d´Party am Wuchenändi isch huere geil gsi, ächt de Hammer!” (“Hello everybody, how are you? I am top fit, the party last weekend was incredible, really smashing”). We laughed a lot when I wanted to impress my friends with my Swiss-German knowledge. It was a pleasure, that everybody made great efforts to talk to me in standard German. One of my greatest trips ever was in Switzerland. It lasted seven days and went from Pilatus to Bern, Genf, Interlaken, Lausanne, Lugano and Zürich. These seven places were


really beautiful, but Pilatus-Kulm was the best one. There is a wonderful view from Pilatus over the incredible mountain scenery. It would have been even more beautiful if there would have been still some snow on the mountains, but it was already summer. But later I had the oppurtunity to enjoy the Snow in Wallis. I skied there for the first time. Last month I deepened my knowledge in this sport. I was in EstevayerLe-Lac, where I did waterskiing on the Neuenburg Lake. Now there is only one month left in Switzerland and I am trying to enjoy the rest of my Erasmus Year till the very last moment. Thanks to ESN I was pretty fast integrated in Winterthur and found many new friends. When there were problems, I found help from the Erasmus-people, who were always there for me like my family. I will always remember the nights of Volleyball, Basketball and Fondue, the welcome parties and of course the ZHW-Party. ¡Muchas Gracias! The time just flew. I experienced so much, got to know so many people and had a wonderful time in Winterthur. Soon I have to say goodbye. But I’ll be back!


ARE WE SO DIFFERENT? A two-day journey with Matteo and Chris (fake names invented to protect their privacy), this is how the article was created. Matteo and Chris are 28 years old, ex-international students from Italy, now working in catering and design. They have kindly offered me their time to help me answer some questions rising up with the sensitive theme of homosexuality. What is homosexuality? A sickness or a kind of sexual orientation? MATTEO: the question asked should rather be: homosexuality, is it an orientation or a deviation? By the way, being gay is a way of being. CHRIS: simply, it is a kind of sexual orientation. Is homosexuality a choice? MATTEO: no it is not a choice, it’s like that. It’s something that follows the nature, even among animals you find examples of homosexuality. CHRIS: it can become a choice, it’s subjective. There are people that are already born with the attraction for the same sex, then there are people that became aware of this with time; and others decide to hide their feelings - their “predisposition” - to be able to live easily. Is a person born gay or becomes so? How did you discover that you are gay? MATTEO: you are born gay. I understood it during the primary school when I started feeling attraction for guys. At first I thought I was sick, I thought that I was the only one. At that time there was not that much discussion about it. At

by: Simone Dalle Nogare ESN International

least, today, people know something about it. By the way, to get to know myself and in order to accept my homosexuality, I had to go abroad. There, the loneliness and the hard times made me strong enough to come back home and to tell about myself to my closest friends. CHRIS: in the beginning, I had some doubts, but then, when I was around 20 years old, after experiencing relationships with both guys and girls, I understood I was more attracted to men. Are you bisexual or have you ever had a girlfriend? If yes, what do you find in the relationship with a guy that you don’t find with a girl? MATTEO: I’m a gay. Yes, I’ve been with girls in the past, because I wasn’t able to understand myself. I thought that trying “normal relationships” would help me to become fully “straight”. Instead, doing it, I just hurt the feelings of the girls. I find in men the same that straight couples find in their relationships: complicity, happiness, and so on. CHRIS: I’m not a bisexual. I had some “normal relationships” in the past, which I could not fully enjoy. I was simply not attracted to women.. Besides feelings, also I am physically attracted exclusively to men. Are your friends and relatives aware of your sexuality? If not, how do you live with the contradictions of a “double life”? MATTEO: just my closest friends are aware of it, my relatives are not. The double life is a really bad situation, which I have to experience. I’m forced to hide myself behind a bunch of lies.


PROJECTS & PARTNERS CHRIS: just some friends know about me and none of my relatives. With time I have changed most of my friends because I was looking for someone who would allow me to feel more comfortable with myself. After years of keeping everything inside, I have found courage to tell everyone, who I am. At this moment of my life, the fact that everyone knows I am gay is not a big problem. I just need people around me to like me the way I am. The main problem is my family and a certain number of people who have known me for a long time and with whom it’s really hard to confess. Is homosexuality against nature? MATTEO: it is natural because it exists among animals as much as it exists between humans. From a conceptual point of view, it is against nature. CHRIS: if you mean it like a deviation, yes, it can be understood as against nature. But as a sentiment between two people of the same sex, of course not. Do you believe in God? If yes, how do you live with the principles of the Christian doctrine? MATTEO: I believe in God, but not in the Church. I believe that God predicates love and not hate towards a homosexual, in this particular case. CHRIS: yes, I believe in God although I don’t go to Church. The Church as an institution is anything but God’s message.

“The loneliness and the hard times made me strong” - Matteo -

Do you think that the directions, undertaken by the Vatican and the Catholic Church in general, dealing with the questions of homosexuality gave rise to interpretation which complicated homosexuals’ integration in the civil society? MATTEO: Yes, of course. We are viewers of a raising hatred between the homosexual world and the Church that has generated an extremist organization such as NO VAT (no to Vatican) on one side and homophobia to the other. Extremism doesn’t bring you anywhere, they just encumber the dialogue. CHRIS: of course. This is the reason why I believe in God’s love, but not in the institution of the Church. Therefore, I am not a churchgoer. Or better, I try to follow the message of the Bible on the little things of everyday life. What do you think about the State recognition of the civil union (different from the wedding) between heterosexual and homosexual couples and about the social and political difficulties connected to it? MATTEO: I’m in favour of such type of a union bound by norms, that allow the heterosexual and the homosexual couples to live together and to have the same civil rights that everyone can acquire with a normal wedding. CHRIS: for the moment this issue doesn’t concern my life directly. However, I think this is a goal to pursue to make progress in the society. The recognition of the not married


heterosexual and homosexual couples in front of law is a right that everyone should be able to benefit of. The Church should not play such an important role on political level. And what about the adoption of children by homosexual couples? MATTEO: personally, I am against the idea. I believe that a child needs a male and a female figure. In the USA, it is legal and the studies about it have not detected any problems during the growth of the child. However, before thinking about this topic there is still a lot of way to go. CHRIS: at the moment, I don’t think it is a good idea. The society is not ready to accept it at the present moment. Also, because I think we would have to face problems of the child’s education. According to your opinion, when will Italy fully integrate with the “more” liberal western countries? MATTEO: in my opinion, we are at the same level of integration. What we are missing are law or code, that binds our rights or obligations in for a life commitment. CHRIS: the level of is nearly the same. There is a huge difference if you live in a big town or in a village. This nuance describes a situation easily notable in any western country. Let’s talk about you as a couple. How did you meet? MATTEO: by Internet, this tool allows people to meet freely. CHRIS: on a chat. Is internet a common tool to meet among homosexuals? MATTEO: yes, of course. Many people are scared to ex-

PROJECTS & PARTNERS friends who know about it, I feel free - I have nothing to hide. With those people who do not know about me, I have to lie, to invent things, to find excuses, to justify my absences. In the professional world, have you ever had problems linked with your homosexuality? MATTEO: I have never declared it and I have always glossed over my private life. CHRIS: no, because the relation is strictly professional. We are not friends and I am a reserved person - above all, about my private life. How is your relationship with Matteo/Chris going? MATTEO: fine, with ups and downs, perfect days and then big fights. The problem is, that we are forced to organize our meetings in order not to be revealed. CHRIS: fundamentally, it is a normal relationship between 2 people, like a heterosexual couple, with the disadvantage of not having the possibility to enjoy it 100%. Sometimes, we have to hide and we have to lie. This happens because homosexuality is still not accepted. Do you think that one day you will be able to declare

“I’m forced to hide myself behind a bunch of lies.” - Chris pose themselves, to stand up and be counted, or to go alone to a gay bar. CHRIS: yes. Are there other homosexuals in your village? If yes, why are they hiding? MATTEO: yes, there are. Some declare themselves, others not. The village is quite small and not that open-minded. CHRIS: yes, many. They hide themselves because they are scared to be mocked or to be considered a losers. Is there a place in your village where homosexuals can meet? If not, where do you go to meet these people? MATTEO: no, I’m forced to go clubbing in Padova or Verona – the bigger cities. CHRIS: no, I have to go to bigger cities where I can find gay pubs or discos. How is the relationship with your friends? And with your parents? MATTEO: with my closest friends really good, they know everything about me. With my parents, the situation is different: I cannot be sincere with them. I do not want to become a problem in their lives, I don’t think they would understand me. At the end of the day I am dependent on them (I still live with them), and I do not want to risk being kicked out of the house. CHRIS: my parents do not know it. From a certain point of view, I feel sorry about that. I would like to be free to talk with them about it. For example, if I am chatting and they get to my room I have to close everything, or if I am at the phone with a gay I have to go out of my house. With the

yourself in front of everyone and finally live your homosexuality peacefully? MATTEO: yes, I hope so, when I’ll be strong enough to do it, when I’ll have the courage not to listen to the judgment of others, because this is what brings you peace. CHRIS: I do not feel like declaring my homosexuality to the world, because my sexual orientation is my personal business! The principal quote is “live and let others live”. Is there anything that you are scared of? MATTEO: yes, to be considered just uncle, son or brother of someone. To remain alone because there are no rights ratified by law which would allow me to become a legal partner of someone. The marriage is not allowed between gay people. CHRIS: to remain alone.

Raise walls, dig ditches, increase distances. Does this need to be the solution? ents. I couldn’t have done “That year I told the truth to my par My father wouldn’t look at it without Chris holding my hand. e back. My mother said me. He told me to go and never com h. Was that so selfish? nothing. But I had told them the trut it is all we really have. […] Our integrity sells for so little, but words began to change. I remember how the meaning of the ame dangerous. I still don’t […] I remember how different bec much”. understand it… why they hate us so from the movie “V for Vendetta”



Photo’s by: Florian Paulus Marc Janson Martin Sinal Pavel Kolman Serkan Onar

DO YOU WANT YOUR PHOTO HERE? Then send your photo’s to:



QUIZ Which is the biggest statutory meeting of ESN International?


Fill the vertical lines (beginning with the first letter from the top and going to the bottom) with the replies from the questions 1 to 13! The horizontal marked line will give you the result! How much do you know about ESN?!?! Let’s see.. If you solved the puzzle, please send it to us, the first answer we receive will get a price! Send it to: Erasmus Student Network Rue Hydraulique 15 B-1210, Brussels Belgium



3 4

11 10 6


1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13.

12 13

8 7

How the committee working in the field of educational policy is called? In which city the Celebrations for the 20 years of ESN took place? Which project is about recognition of ECTS Credits? What is the name of the International non statutory meeting organized by ESN Spain? How the committee working in the field of secure and well managed of the network is called? How the committee working in the field of fundraising is called? Which of those countries organized the Sea Battle: Norway, Sweden or Latvia? How the committee working in the field of web administration is called? How the committee working in the magazine, newsletter, ESN radio, etc. is called? What is the name of the international non statutory meeting organized by ESN The Netherlands during winter? In which city the South Eastern European Platform 2009 takes place? Where is the headquarters of ESN International? In which month the transition period between the members of the new and the old International board takes place?


This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication [communication] reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.


ESN Magazine, issue 7

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