Inga’s story of the Youth Exchange ‘The Other in (Me)dia’!

Inga took part as a German participant in the Youth Exchange ‘The Other in (Me)dia’ organized by Rakonto in Laroin, France in February 2024

Hello, my name is Inga and in February I was able to take part in my very first Erasmus+ Youth Exchange, something I’ve been wanting for a while. The Youth Exchange was called “The other in Media” and focused on dismantling stereotypes and colonial narratives in modern media and mindsets alike.

While searching for an Erasmus+ course to participate in, I realized one thing…the world of Erasmus+ is full of things to learn and discover. Whatever you can think of, there is an Erasmus+ course somewhere out there, where you can learn about this specific interest of yours.

Photography, gender equality, sustainable farming, mindfulness or even archery and clowning…Erasmus+ got you covered.

To me, it seemed almost harder to find a Youth Exchange that I wasn’t interested in, rather than one I was. Now after my first experience, I realize that there is something else, that is just as valuable, that Erasmus+ has to offer. Not only do you have the opportunity to learn about all those interesting topics, to me, it also provides the perfect opportunity to challenge yourself and learn more about who you are as a person.

This is because during a Youth Exchange you are in a unique situation, you are away from all the things that normally define you, like your job, your culture and even your friends and family. Even though this might sound a bit weird, it is a good thing, as I see it. It gives you the opportunity to grow beyond what people have come to think of you.

You are surrounded by an international group of young people, that are all just as eager to learn as you are. They are there to share, listen and understand and just as long as you are willing to do just the same, you can learn so much about who you are and who you want to become.

We laughed together and dreamed of a future that is at least a little better.

I heard a friend use the term Erasmus+ bubble before (also the term post Erasmus+ depression, but let’s not talk about that one) and now I understand what she meant. To me, it felt like our shared attitude towards learning, understanding and creating formed such a unique atmosphere. A little bubble that welcomes you to be vulnerable, ask for help and challenge yourself.

Our little bubble, our little Utopia:)

Let me tell you more about it…we were around 30 young people living in France, Spain, Italy, Portugal and Germany, who had roots in many other places all over the world. We came together in Pau, a small cute town in the south of France, where, with a bit of luck, you can have the most amazing view of the Pyrenees (I might have fallen in love with the city a bit)

Over a period of ten days we went from strangers to friends, and we learned so much.

For most of us, the journey to Pau was quite exhausting and not always go smoothly, I am convinced this is all part of the experience. So by the time we all arrived, everybody was more than ready for some much-needed sleep, before a week that didn’t promise all too much of it. The first day was all about getting to know each other and learning everybody’s name. There were some language barriers in the group, if I count correctly, we spoke roughly 10 languages among all of us and sometimes two people couldn’t find one that they both shared. Even after having multiple years of French and Spanish at school, my vocabulary is limited to oui oui baguette and hola. But in its own way, this enriched the experience, because we somehow had to overcome not speaking the same language by translating for one another to work together.

Only the next day did we really start diving into the topic at hand. We tried to confront some stereotypes and believes that are so ingrained in modern life, and tried to understand the gap between whom a person is and how much the media can show of them. We also entered some debates about topics that are normally avoided.

Furthermore, we informed ourselves further about the colonial past of the countries that we live in and how our history contributes to unequal wealth distribution nowadays. At some moments we were brought to tears, confronted with the ugly injustices of this world.

We learned about each other’s stories, shared our beliefs and passions and despite the seriousness of the topic at hand, we laughed together and dreamed of a future that is at least a little better.

Towards the end of our time together, we had the opportunity to create something to represent what we had learned and experienced. With the support of the team, all of us created something so valuable and beautiful. I worked with audiovisual for the first time in my life, something that had always overwhelmed me beforehand and that I didn’t think possible.

We shared our work and were inspired by all that each one of us has to offer.

By the time we had to say goodbye, when the Erasmus+ bubble was about to burst, we were not longer strangers and also not quite the people who we started the course at.

“Not only do you have the opportunity to learn about all those interesting topics, to me, it also provides the perfect opportunity to challenge yourself and learn more about who you are as a person.”

Inga - Participant

“We laughed together and dreamed of a future that is at least a little better.”

“By the time we had to say goodbye, when the Erasmus+ bubble was about to burst, we were not longer strangers and also not quite the people who we started the course at.”