In March 2023 five students from our school were given the opportunity to participate in the Erasmus+ project in Catania (Italy).
We met at the parking lot at 2:30 am in front of our school. Everyone was tired but also so excited to meet the others and the host families.
After we took our first flight to Amsterdam, we already met the Dutch and the Norwegian Erasmus team at the airport. We got to know the others and talked a lot with them, everyone was so nice which made us a little less nervous.
Having arrived in Catania, we met our host families and drove home with them. Just spending a little time at the new homes, the whole project group met in the evening.
The topic of our week, which was teambuilding, allowed us to have a lot of fun with the other students, even during the academic part of the week.
On the first two days, Monday and Tuesday, each group introduced themselves and presented their teambuilding activity.
After we did all the activities, we found that the games were very different but all served their purpose of bringing the group together.
Monday: After the Italian team building activity, the very large Erasmus group split into smaller groups and had some free time, which my group spent with shopping. After that, most of them made an appointment to go out to dinner in the city in the evening. We went to a kebab store and played cards there. After the meal, we were still in the city and went to the gaming hall, which was a lot of fun. In my opinion, it was one of the best days of all, because we only spoke English the whole day and were able to talk more intensively with all the other people in the Erasmus teams. We didn’t get home until 12 o’clock every evening.
Tuesday: Once we did team building activities in the morning, we had free time and in the evening we went to a bowling centre in the city.
Wednesday: Everyone got ready to meet up in front of the school so we could drive to Mount Etna with a double-decker bus. The Mount Etna is the biggest, still active volcano in Europe!
As soon as everyone sat down and the bus started driving our mood brightened and we started to play games and began to sing karaoke. During our little karaoke session, we found the song of our trip: “Riptide – by Vance Joy”. This song accompanied us through the whole week in Sicily and will keep our memories alive.
Having arrived at the Etna, we split up in groups and were allowed to walk up the smallest volcano crater and to climb up the middle one.
Back on the bus our next stop was the city of Taormina. We visited the famous Teatro Antico di Taormina, an ancient Greek amphitheatre which is still in use up to this day and were allowed to use the rest of our time to enjoy the city and all the great things. So Paula, Erik and I gathered some of the other students and went down to the beach and not only was the beach pretty but also all the views we had, going from the top of the city down to the beach. In the evening we arranged a dinner at an Italian restaurant.
Thursday: Again, we all met up in front of the school to take the bus, this time to Syracuse and Ortiga, which is a small island connected to the mainland by a bridge.
At first we visited an ancient Greek city and had a tour guide with us who told us many interesting stories about historical events, the population, the mindset etc. of the ancient Greeks. We saw the quarries where slaves had to mine stone so they could use it to build the monuments and buildings and also another (still in tact) amphitheatre as well as a small colosseum used by the people for entertainment.
At the end of the guided tour we went back to the bus and drove a short bit to a parking lot in front of the bridge that connects Syracuse and Ortiga. Being on the little island, we enjoyed a few more Sicilian specialties like cannoli, a sweet biscuit filled with cream. But we also continued with our tour guide who told us more about the city as well as about the religion and myths that roam across the city.
A lot of us wanted to party once in Italy, so the Italian Ersamus team organized a house party. We all danced together to the music and some of them also played the guitar that night and sang together. It was a fun and perfect ending.
The connection between the students was good most of the time. Most of us started conversations quickly, some needed a bit longer. But in the end, I would say everybody found his or her group to walk and talk in. Being in our students’ group was an important thing, but also the exchange with the host families was interesting. Most of the host families told us about Italian culture and good meals to eat, which they also cooked when we were at their homes. We went to a lot of places with all the exchange students to see Catania and get in even better touch with all the people. On our last day some of the families also gave gifts to us for us and our parents.
On Friday it was already time to say goodbye. It was a great experience for all of us which helped us socialize and connect with other young Europeans!
Erik, Hani, Carolin, Jesper und Paula