A story for my relatives and friends that do not know what exactly I am doing in Prague
Things change in the blink of an eye… Two years ago if you asked me what was Interreg I would have had no clue what to answer, one year ago I might have had a slight idea, and now I am involved in an Interreg project!
The first time I heard about Interreg was last year while I was studying my Master’s Bachelor in European Integration at Universitat Autònoma of Barcelona. By that time I was starting to get familiar with the most relevant instruments that the European Union implemented to enhance transnational and cross-border cooperation among its Member States, such as Interreg programmes. Out of curiosity, I looked for more information regarding these programmes and found quite interesting ones, it was at this precise instant when I decided that I wanted to collaborate in one of these initiatives and explore beyond the borders of my country to experience it by myself, but the only problem was that I did not know how. I can say it was by chance that I came across the Interreg Volunteer Youth website, and just a month later I was packing my stuff and moving to Prague to become an IVY at the European Development Agency.
Now in Prague I am contributing to develop communication and project management tasks for a Danube Transnational Programme called AgriGo4Cities, which aims at social inclusion of vulnerable groups from the Danube region throughout Urban and Peri-urban agriculture. Furthermore, at the European Development Agency I had also the chance to help to develop and implement further transnational cooperation projects from the European Union, as well as, contacting some partners from other EU Member States, helping to expand their partnership network, and writing some posts and articles for social media.
However, the best thing has been travelling around Europe; during this five months I have visited five different countries (Poland, Belgium, Austria, Germany, and Bulgaria), sometimes just for my own leisure and others for business matters. For instance, I would say the highlight of my IVY experience has been so far meeting other volunteers from other programmes around Europe while we were all invited to participate and promote IVY at the European Week of Regions and Cities 2018 that took place in Brussels. This was the best occasion to see by myself all the work the European Commission does to bring together and take care of all the regions and cities from the 28 Member States of the EU.
Now that I am almost at the end of my experience, I look back and see how much things have changed in a blink of an eye, one day I was studying in Barcelona and on the very next day I was volunteering in Prague. To be honest, at the beginning it was difficult for me to adapt to the lifestyle of the Czech Republic, which is completely different from the one in Barcelona, my home city. However, after five months in Prague, I can say that I adapted myself pretty well, and I am getting to know better the Czech culture and its people, I am also able to survive below zero temperatures, I can use with no problem their currency, and I have even learned few words of Czech ̶ or at least the important ones to order a beer. Yes, moving here it was a challenge, but it was worth it! And thanks to this opportunity now I have many friends from different countries, I have professional experience in the field of my studies, and I have the personal reward of getting along with the things that change in the blink of an eye!