Erasmus+ Project ,,Under The European Stars” in Hungary
Highschool students from Croatia, Finland, Hungary and Spain spent a week camping in Hungarina mountains in order to raise awareness of the importance of nature for mental and physical health.
The Erasmus+ project ,,Under The European Stars”, carried out at Prva gimnazija Varaždin, Croatia, promotes many activities which encourage young people to spend time in nature. Apart from Croatian grammar school, the project involves highschools from Finland, Hungary and Spain. The main objective of the project is to raise awareness of mental health so highschool students become motivated to live a healthier lifestyle, spend time in nature, do physical activities, judiciously use digital technology and practice face to face communication. In addition students are taught strategies which help manage stressful life situations and develop mental resilience.
The second mobility of the project took place from 27 September to 4 October 2022 at Szegedi Tömörkény István Gimnázium in Hungary, where students and teachers from Croatia, Finland and Spain met their hosts, visited the host school and the town of Szeged. One of the activities which marked the first day was practicing yoga and learning relaxation techniques.
On the second day the participants traveled by bus and train to the mountain range of Mátra where they stayed in a youth camp for three days. During this period the students didn’t use their mobile phones because there was no signal so they spent their time socializing, enjoying nature and hiking. They showed their hiking skill by climbing Kekes, the highest peak in Hungary in five hours. Even though the students weren’t used to the challenging mountain conditions of Matra, their laughter could be heard everywhere. Apart from hiking, the students visited ,,Oxygen Adrenalin Park’’ and participated in various activities such as taking ski lifts, doing paintball and archery, walking the hanging bridge, sledge run.
After a three-day stay in nature and overcoming all the challenges, the students spent a day with their host families. On the final day of the mobility, the participants of the project did some reflection in the host school, Szegedi Tömörkény István Gimnázium, and tried traditional fish soup. After that, they spent the afternoon rowing the river Tisa in dragon boats where they learned that team work and a good rhythm result in reaching the common goal.
Spending time in nature and camping in a mountain with other participants in the project helped everyone to acquire new experiences. All the students learned how to adjust to unexpected situations, keep a positive mindset and focus on the best aspects of an experience. For example, the rainy weather and muddy trek on the mountain couldn’t spoil their good mood so they hiked to the top with a smile on their faces.
The host families were really friendly and all the students felt well looked after. Everyone was really grateful for the opportunity to be a part of the Erasmus+ project and for all the wonderful memories which will stay with them for the rest of their lives. Apart from the enjoyable visit to a beautiful town of Szeged and Hungarian mountains, the students realized that good teammates and teachers make a memorable experience.
All the outcomes of the mobility were achieved because the students came out of their comfort zone, spent time outdoors doing physical activities in fresh air, developed resilience to various challenging situations, socialized with their peers, practiced their English language skills, used their mobile phones less and showed their creativity cooperating with each other.
That was a beautiful Erasmus story which strengthened the students and teachers through an enriching experience. The next mobility will take place in Spain and everyone is looking forward to it.
Written by Aleksandra Balentović and Ana Đekić, Prva gimanzija Varaždin, Croatia