The youth exchange took place in Balatonboglar, which is south of the biggest lake, Balaton, in Central Europe, from the 11th until the 21st of September, 2022.
We started the project off on a bad note – we couldn’t find enough participants – nonetheless it was one of the most impactful, fun and most off all educational experiences I’ve had the pleasure to be a part of. So, how did we turn it around? Well, to keep it short and sweet. I, you, we get to make the experience. And believe me, when I say we MADE the experience.
The start of the journey. Having never travelled before I was anxious but I enjoyed it – like going out to conquer the world. At times, like when I spilled a hot dog in my bag right before departure, I didn’t feel like much of a conqueror but I kept my head straight and charged ahead. Having made it to Budapest, I met up with my friend, Hugo, who I had managed to convince to join us on the project. After the short lived, but long lingering, euphoria of being 18, an independent traveller, with a dear friend in a foreign country was exhausted we started heading towards Balaton. I’ll keep this short. Having rushed — we did not account time for understanding Hungarian — to trains and meeting up with Markus, the 3rd and concluding piece of our team. We shortly realised that for 500 Hungarian forints, which is about 1.40€, me and Hugo had, accidentally, taken the business class cabin from Budapest to Balatonboglar. Also this is just my, Kaspar’s, perspective. Some partied like there wasn’t going to be a tomorrow when I was just starting from Estonia.
After arriving and meeting everybody we totally forgot everybody’s names and hit the bed like rocks. The following day, officially the first day of the project, we redeemed ourselves with a friendly and attentive presence and thus made friends with everybody quite quickly – especially for Estonians.
The project went into full swing. There were different exercises, energisers and icebreakers. We would eventually find our teammates or, for this occasion, colleagues and start building our own company. We learned how to work together as a team: how to share responsibilities, how to compromise and sometimes how not to as well as effective communication. Clearly it’s not something anyone can master in 10 days but considering the short time frame, I think we did really well for ourselves. We also learned about the more technical aspects of starting a business or, more exactly, the website for it. For example: how to make ads and how to effectively target them, how to design pages and most importantly how to come up with solutions with no answer to be found.
So the days passed. Working, partying, regretting and going back to work and doing it over again. There was a yacht trip, a vineyard visit, on which we got some hitchhiking experience, we visited a bar, some continued to a club, some had gone to Budapest to party there.
During the end of the project it was unbelievable for all of us how much we grew on eachother. There are too many fun stories to tell for this ‘short blog post’, but I think I made it clear enough that — we had fun!
Kaspar Paiste, group leader of the Estonian team
Projektikogemused alates 2021-st aastast.