As Madeira is not the first Portuguese island which I visited, I knew what I should expect here.
Before coming to Madeira I spend part of my studies on Erasmus exchange program in Azores and because of that I did not think ‘always expect unexpected’. When I arrived I was not surprised by the Madeiran weather, climate, high humidity, cockroaches, lizards, and very narrow streets. People were also very nice and the city of Funchal seemed like a safe place.
However, what surprised me at first was that Funchal is much bigger and it hosts much more tourists that I thought. That is why, in my opinion, people here are more open to other cultures. Also because of that, many people (in restaurants, busses, offices) speak foreign languages, not only English, but also French, German, and even some Polish.
Other thing which was quite unexpected is the difference between Portuguese language form Azores and the one from Madeira. Although my Portuguese language is on low level, Madeiran accent seems a lot different to me than the one that I learned. I hope that I will learn more soon and the language will not be a problem for me anymore.
Short bio of the volunteer:
Weronika Prażmo, 22 years old volunteer from Poland. Fell in love at first sight with Portugal and its islands.
Erasmus+ is a programme of the European Commission embracing the fields of education, training, youth and sports during the period 2014-2020. One of the major aspects is the cooperation between the different fields where the programme acts, hence contributing for a diverse and rich Europe.
Amongst the several goals of the programme, the following are prioritised: the objectives of the Europe 2020 Strategy, including the headline education target; the aims of the strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training (ET 2020), including the corresponding benchmarks; the sustainable development of Partner Countries in the field of higher education; the overall goals of the renewed framework for European cooperation in the youth field (2010-2018); the objective of developing the European dimension in sport, in particular grassroots sport, in line with the EU work plan for sport and the promotion of European values in accordance with Article 2 of the Treaty on the European Union.
In order to achieve these goals, the Erasmus+ has several action policies. The Key Action 1 (KA1) is directed towards the mobility of people; Key Action 2 (KA2) for the cooperation for innovation and the interchange of good experiences; and Key Action 3, which is for the support of reformation policies.
Since 1991 the University of Madeira Students’ Union has developed a wide incentive policy for voluntary work. In 2013 the Students’ Union started the process to receive, send and coordinate Erasmus+ projects of the European Voluntary Service, in order to have a larger influence in the volunteering field. The Union received its first volunteer withing the ambit of a KA1 project in 2014. Many efforts have been done to allow young people from Madeira to take part in several initiatives in Europe, as well as propose several projects allowing young people from several countries to work in the projects of the Students’ Union of the University of Madeira. The main goal of the voluntary work is the contribution of the volunteers to the communities and places they will be staying, being their work not rewarded with payment.
We believe that the European Voluntary Service is a mechanism full of experiences, allowing the approved candidates to have the privilege of taking part in these projects and benefit the places and communities where these volunteers will be staying.
Since 2013, the University of Madeira Students’ Union has received volunteers that have collaborated in several activities and initiatives. Besides being able to enjoy a wonderful experience which will contribute to their personal and professional growth, they are able to contribute in a unique way to the community in which they are inserted and to join dozens of volunteers from the University of Madeira.