23.03.2018 01:53

Every person you meet gives you something and makes you wiser, says Erasmus coordinator

Autor: Jiří Král | Kurz: English section | Kategorie: Features and other

Study, work or travel? As Erasmus Student Network coordinator Valentina Botica experienced all these things at once and helped many people to do the same. Czech Republic became one stopover on her way to her dream job where she would be able to fight discrimination around the world. Unfortunately the Czech stopover has not always been easy for her - mostly because locals are not very used to Balcan hot blood.

Valentina clearly doesn’t fit in the freezing Czech winter at the first sight. This nice-looking 25-year-old blonde girl looks too relaxed and smiles too often. She is from Croatia – state that most of the Czechs know only as a cheap holiday destination. She was kind of a traveler since her life started. She was born in Slovenia, but shortly after that her family moved to her father´s borntown Rijeka in Croatia, where she spend first three years of her life. Then her parrents moved to smaller town Zadar where she studied grammar school specialised on language. Valentina claims she used to be very shy in that age. It´s hard to belive compared to her current self-confident manner.

Valentina went to study Journalism on University of Zagreb when she was 18. College changed her life a lot. „I started to volunteer for many local events like Festival of Tolerance and I wrought for cultural and movie webside Animafest. I also started to socialise more,“ she says. She met many friends, gained experience and her self-esteem began to grow.

The biggest breakpoing of her life was Erasmus in Warsaw. „I needed a pause after a break-up and I felt I want to change something in my life. Erasmus accomplished that perfectly - it acquired me with energy,“ she says and seems very excited talking about it. After finishing her studies she moved back into Rijeka, the place of her origin, and joined Erasmus Student Network - biggest voluntary student organisation in Europe. It became her new home, because she felt like she belonged there. „Even though you know most of the people there just for a short time, you often feel like you know them for years. It´s because of sharing the same goals and interests – you understand each other,“ she says and sights nostalgically.

She arrived to Brno by Erasmus Internship program to work as full time journalist for online magazine Brno Daily. She is the face of video series What's Up Brno, make interviews and participate in many local events. However, the first few weeks in Czechia were very hard for her. When she talks about her first experience with the city, she shudders uncomfortably. „To be honest I was very dissapointed how the city looked – it seemed grey and distant. Now after a few months I understand that some people like the calm spirit of this place. But it´s not my cup of tea,“ she says.

Valentina´s previous experience from Erasmus Student Network helps her a lot with her current job. The main goal of network is helping newcoming students with orientation in new place and prepare activities for them. „I have been through a lot of education courses and planned many events. It helped me to develop my soft skills like team and time management, leadership and organisation,“ she explains.

Valentina lectures

First thing she noticed about the Czechs was their coldness. According to her experience locals are drastically different compared to people from Mediterranean countries like Italy, Spain, Greece and Croatia. „People in the Balkans are used to talk and phonecall very loud, hug each other all the time and show more emotions in public places. For example, smiling at someone on the street is totally unacceptable here,“ she says and laughs. All of these aspects unfortunately made her feel like she didn´t belong here, unaccepted and lonely.

The Czechs remind her of Swedish, Lithuanians and other people from nordic countries she knows. According to her, their behavior is more polite, reserved and silent – they are definitely not shouting at each other on the streets. „I realised that many Czechs are actually very nice people if you get to know them better. But on the first sight they seem to be same cynical coldhearted beings like other northeners,“ she says.

Valentina has already participated on projects in Bulgaria, Serbia, Turkey, Vienna and many other European countries – and she is determined to continue traveling and learning more. She wants her next stop to be Turkey - she is literally crossing fingers while wishing it works out. All people should travel a lot in her opinion – especially young ones. „You always learn something from every person you meet. Especially if they come from culture really different from yours. You can learn a lot and always gain something from it,“ she explains.

Valentina in radio station

Klíčová slova: Erasmus, Croatia, Czechs, Profile story


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