My Erasmus story began in Wroclaw, Poland in November, 2019 when I was 24. I didn’t know much about the city, but now I can say that it was an inspiration at first sight. Wroclaw is a cultural melting pot combining almost all the religions of Europe. For the first time in my life I felt like a true citizen of a European Capital of Culture. Thus, I took the dare of going to hunt for 300 mystical gnomes representing the opposition movement of combating authoritarian regime established under the stern eye of Soviet communists in 1980s. And the witnessing walls of the Soviet regime has contributed to the broad understanding of the term ‘TOLERANCE’ intended to be digested during the 10 days spent in the city.

Growing-up in an Armenian religious family I have always been thought that ‘tolerance’ and ‘acceptance’ and ‘love’ is something that feeds every person in need. It seems that I have been quite aware of these words, but… Having the chance to participate in the Erasmus+ project “YOU are the Tolerance” organized by the Ideal Lab Foundation (the sending organization was the Armenian Progressive Youth NGO) made me contradict lots of values I appreciated before. I came to understand that it was not about liabilities and must-DOs, but openness to argument, willingness to self-doubt, aptitude to see other people’s points of view, enlightened to recognize not man or woman, but HUMAN.

Let’s not forget that every Erasmus+ experience has its challenges at first: I got to meet new people from the other parts of the world, I was anxious about my inclusive capacities, I was overthinking on sharing my private zone of isolation with people from diverse backgrounds and interests. And yes, the brick walls are there for a reason. They have the mission to give us an opportunity to be once more assured how badly we want something and stop us when the desire is not extremely enough. This experience has made me realize how magical the corners of every wall can be and how terrible it is that we know so little about it, so many mind-blowing places that we have never thought existed and so many extraordinary people that we have never met.

By embracing the valuable knowledge that I have gained from this exchange program, I take the chance to emphasize about the motivation, new perspectives, never-ending memories, and most importantly friends for a whole lifetime. On the very first day when we were drawing about our expectations from the program, I outlined friends keeping hands, but imagine… what if all our fictional thoughts come true. Our simple opportunities step by step become responsibilities and here the FEIENDSHIP begins.

Now, I know that we should use every possible opportunity to learn about different faces of the fast-growing society, experience the colors of adventures and make great stories to tell when we are old enough to our minds. Four months have passed and my gratefulness for every moment never ends. Missing the flight from one country to another, taking the wrong direction countless times, getting lost in a big unknown city, appearing in suburbs and being sure that it was the place where I meant to be, missing the last train, trying strange foods and eating without knowing what was inside, being the first at each Polish inspiration event, planning trips at every single opportunity, and so on, and so forth. Is it possible to be jealous of your own days? Well…if it is, I definitely and unquestionably am.

© Alisa Jamalyan