You’re approved to participate in Erasmus+ project – good job! So, what to bring? What to put into your suitcase?
“Of course – everything!” – At least that is what I told myself before my first project and deeply regreted it after.
Let’s start from the fact that this is not a vacation and you’re spending most of your time at one place, a conference hall, for example. What clothes to bring? I suggest you to have with you one set of clothes per day, comfortable ones and clothes that you can combine so to wear them not only once – e.g. leggings, a skirt and jeans with more T-shirts and blouses. You should keep in mind that activities often include different energizers, games, sports, dancing or acting theatrical scenes, often sitting on the floor – so you need to feel comfortable first. And the best thing is that nobody watches and comments your style or appearance; everybody is interested in what personality you have and how you can have a lot of fun together!
Overcoat is a necessity! Because when we’re setting off for a Southern and warm place, we usually tend to think the weather is going to be hot and not rainy at all but surprisingly this always occur to be a huge mistake – and getting sick is the last think you want, right? Also, more than two pairs of shoes (but convenient and not high-heeled) it’s just not needed.
Of course, bring a fancy dress for the intercultural night and the free afternoon to explore the city, and shine with all of your brightness!
And now – the serious part. Read carefully the project’s info-pack and if you’ve never been engaged with its topic, get informed. For some projects it’s required to prepare in advance:
A presentation for your home country
Information or statistics regarding the problem which is the project’s topic
Advice: If you have time, get informed about the situation in the other countries; speak up your own opinion or ask other participants questions; Yet it is the goal – intercultural learning
Preparing a presentation for your sending organization – don’t hesitate to ask ICDET for info and materials, they won’t refuse
Ideas for dissemination, follow-up activities – usually you have to write an article, to record an audio or video about the project once after it finishes.
Advice: Take a lot of photos and videos in order to have materials (and nice memories).
Not forget to mention, the most important things that you should bring and keep safe:
An ID card or passport
An insurance or EHIC (European Health Insurance Card)
All of your physical or PDF tickets (and sometimes some signed agreements and stuff) to pass them to your group leader or to give them directly to the people from the host organization dealing with logistics – If you don’t keep the tickets you can’t get your reimbursement afterwards.
Intercultural night struggles
One always wanders what exactly to bring and this actually depends a lot on the baggage allowance – e.g. you can’t take a bottle of alcohol or some foods in your carry-on.
A good advice is to compare your traveling and luggage options, for example sometimes to buy you ticket and after this to add checked suitcase separately, with a low-cost airline is cheaper than to buy ticket with big luggage or even only with hand luggage but with an expensive company. Don’t neglect that for each country there’s a certain budget fixed but organisators do prefer you to choose the cheapest travel option possible. Here’s a sample list of things that I never omit to take:
Food: lutenitsa, lukanka, white cow cheese, traditional spices; homemade jam or honey, lokum -> because it’s traditional and others truly love it
Beverages: homemade Rakia and wine -> foreigners actually like it a lot.
(Don’t feel desperate when you find out that participants from other Balkan countries present almost the same cuisine – yet our cultures are quite similar)
Vials with rose oil or perfume and Martenitsas -> because it is already really traditional and characteristic only of us
The national flag
Idea: You can bring few small souvenirs, cards or magnets and to prepare a Quiz with questions about Bulgaria and to give away the souvenirs to the winners.
And last but not least – the reason I’m always giving the advice for “one third or half empty suitcase”
Even if you don’t intend at first, you’ll always want to bring something for a keepsake from the country you visit. Either gifts and souvenirs for your relatives, or some traditional food and drinks that you liked during your stay there and want to share them with your homies and family. Don’t set off with a full suitcase without any free space because you may always need some.
by Silvia Arsova