A Greek in Brno - A Story of the Erasmus Generation
Orestis is a fresh Electrical and Computer Engineering graduate from Aristotle University in Thessaloniki (Greece), where he also comes from. Full of hope, he has recently moved to Athens in search of better job opportunities. How is he different from any other young person? Well, he managed to grasp the very essence of the Erasmus+ programme in his short video, teaching us what Europe is all about.
Orestis liked a safe daily routine, he did not feel at ease with travelling, and although he had heard a lot of great things about Erasmus+ he was thinking it would be way outside of his comfort zone. Fortunately, he was convinced by one of his friends that an international exchange was an unmissable experience, no matter the difficulties. Orestis applied. Then he had second thoughts: what if it’s not for him after all? What if he ends up postponing his graduation and falls behind by “wasting” half a year? In the end, again encouraged by his friends, he decided to go, as it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and besides, there was only one way to find out what’s on the other side. Orestis needed to overcome his fears and embark on this, according to what he had heard, most amazing, life-changing European journey, also thinking that in the future he would most probably bitterly regret not going.
The following year, Orestis arrived in the Czech Republic, and started his semester at the Brno University of Technology. He was glad to discover that his faculty had a super-modern building, and the classes themselves were very good. There were some differences in the educational system, and it was also a really interesting experience – he says. Also outside of school everything was new: it’s funny how one has to learn using public transport, going grocery shopping or to a post office – we tend to take those things for granted, whereas they don’t always work similarly in different countries. And of course the language: At first if felt a little strange, but in a few weeks, even days, I’ve noticed that my English was improving dramatically and it was getting much easier for me to express myself. Living abroad and experiencing all sorts of new situations also makes you learn a lot about yourself – get some perspective, understand what matters to you, and see your own potential.
[French students organising an activity for a group of friends]
For Orestis the most important part was making new friends: Interacting with people from all over the world is like speed-reading books all day long. You get to learn so many things about cultures, people, geography, history. You start questioning your own beliefs and overcoming stereotypes. You become a member of a generation which is meant to be more united and more peaceful than ever. Getting to know each other is the way to overcome fear and hate.
[Flag parade in Brno, Czech Republic]
Back from the Czech Republic Orestis got involved in ESN activities in his hometown, to contribute to the programme and stay in touch with the vibrant international environment. And there would be nothing that unusual about this story if the young Greek hadn’t decided there was more he could do.
Orestis is a self-taught filmmaker and has a popular YouTube channel in Greek, mostly with short comedy videos. The idea of telling a compelling Erasmus+ generational story was forming in his head already in Brno, but he only managed to make it happen back in Thessaloniki, in collaboration with ESN Greece and a big group of passionate young people helping him voluntarily.
[Behind the scenes AKA colour fight]
The message was all about how mobility programmes can help new generations overcome past issues, and form a more peaceful united society. All these young Europeans, French, British, Germans, Polish, Bulgarian, Greeks, are grandchildren of people who fought in a disastrous war that cost Europe over 60,000,000 lives. Today they are a united group of friends, laughing together, making lifelong friendships, falling in love and sharing memories. There’s much more we have in common than what divides us – says Orestis.
[Filming one of the WW2 scenes]
He himself took care of the script, production planning, shooting the video, and the postproduction. The entire project took 3 months in total, as it required a thorough historical research as well as suitable costumes and locations, yet it was a nearly zero-budget production, thanks to personal engagement of the entire crew. The message itself was very important, but the young creators were also very professional about the entire production, its authenticity and technical requirements. It’s already paying off as Orestis’s video is getting a lot of attention, spreading the word about the Erasmus impact, getting him recognition both in Greece and internationally.
[Behind the scenes – young actors together with the historical consultants]
Now I’m back in my country, just graduated and looking for a job. With a 40% youth unemployment in Greece it might seem difficult, but I am optimistic, and I believe that my Erasmus+ experience equipped me with a great deal of useful skills. We, as a generation, have an enormous advantage: it’s easy for us to travel, work and study. My Erasmus exchange gave me the courage to take a big step if I feel that I am not happy where I am now. I surely won’t compromise, and that’s thanks to this horizon-broadening programme. Erasmus helped me overcome my fears and be more self-confident. I would like to live abroad again in the future: I want to learn new things, and meet people from other countries. I want to travel to see all my international friends - I feel like wherever I go, from Brazil to Taiwan, I have a home and friends waiting for me there.
[Captured nearby student dorms in Brno]
If you are a young person considering going abroad, here’s the message for you from Orestis:
Mobility programmes expand the limits of your world, and are a life-changing opportunity. Imagine your future: successful and surrounded with friends. Dare to claim it, dare to live your European adventure. DARE TO GO ON ERASMUS+ !!!
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