To Austria and Back

After each experience of ours what we are left with are our memories and impressions. In the text below you will read about the immediate impressions of five youths aged between 15 and 20 who took part in the Lighthouse+ Project that was held in the municipality of Trofaiach, Austria, between 20th and 30th July 2015. A number of workshops were held during the youth exchange all of which aimed at various ways of developing creative thinking in these young people, coming from 5 different countries, among which workshops in graffiti drawing, break dance, juggling, hiking, traditional photography and so on. For the greater part of our participants this was the first time they travelled abroad and got to know another culture. Read more about their “impressions without spices” in the text that follows:     

Kami, age 16

Through the better part of the journey we slept – it’s cool to sleep in a car or any other vehicle of the kind. So, I saw almost nothing from Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia (virtually, I slept all through the way across Bulgaria but, well, I’ve seen home before) J The first thing you start to feel, even while asleep, is that the asphalt becomes steadily smoother. The further we travelled away from Bulgaria, the better the roads became. Once we had crossed the border and got to Austria, I was mostly impressed by the clean streets, grass areas and tranquil towns… The place where we resided was unique: neat and tidy. The castle itself was lovely and with a nice view. The food was unusual for me but it was worth tasting something new. I had previously slept in a tent – I am used to it, so it didn’t bother me much. I was happy because of the opportunity to meet new people, who had much better insight into life. It was the hiking I liked the most – I witnessed exceptional sights that I don’t think I’ll ever see again. The organization was great: we had all-day-round activities and we learned a lot. Eventually, here are back again! All of us are happy with the things we saw, the mounts we climbed, the distance we travelled through, and the time we slept over. All of us brought back a lot of impressions, stories and gifts from Western Europe. Now we are looking forward to the next journey.

Rado, age 20

All in all, the exchange left me with very good impressions. The experience was invaluable as well as the friendships I was able to establish. The location was also great, except for the fact that our tent was situated on some rocks and we could only sleep on our backs; however, this wasn’t so important. Everything was organized very well and our agenda was pretty tough. It would have been useful if we had had it written on a board or something, so we would see what was going to be next; anyway, the element of surprise wasn’t bad at all. The workshops were diverse and funny; there was nothing too engaging like, say, having to study for a test or something. There were plenty of other activities too, such as the hiking in the mountains, our going to the swimming pool and the free time we spent in the city of Leoben.

Toni, age 19

I had a good time! I realized for myself that sometimes I do talk rubbish and that I don’t communicate enough with people. It was the first time I slept in a tent and didn’t feel very comfortable but again, being the first time, it was nice. Though I didn’t make it evident, I was enjoying myself. I almost learned how to juggle; I had had no idea whatsoever that someday I’d ever try to juggle at all. I learned that instead of shouting at them and making a scene, you should calmly explain to the people who have hurt you that what they have said has distressed you. Otherwise, they’d never realize in what way they’ve made you suffer. I loved the view! I liked it when we walked blindfolded and when, in the end, we removed the bandage from our eyes. The sky was amazing! I enjoyed the good organization of the event; and met awesome people!

Alex, age 15

It was a truly incredible adventure – being in Austria, I mean. Very few kids have the chance to go camping in a foreign country and to meet as many nice people as I met. I liked all about the journey except for the food, which was the most disgusting thing for me. I was happy we had pizza on the first day, and that we had also spaghetti and chicken once. The games and the activities were quite interesting. The graffiti task was what impressed me most, especially when we had to draw the big graffito and together with Kamelia, I had to paint the river, the grass and the letters. We made a slight mistake while Neil simply told us “No worries, guys, we’ll fix it in no time at all!” So, we drew a flower on top of what we had painted by mistake.

The hiking was really exhausting – especially at the beginning and also after that, when we were served some meat bits over a slice of bread spread with lard.

The „Secret Friend“ game was real fun because my “secret friend” gave me a huge stone as a present and made me carry it throughout the whole hiking event. The walk at the trade center was also wonderful, even though I lost my new pair of trousers somewhere…

I met a lot of people and I hope to meet them again someday. The last day they made us make a video footage for Pavel’s mother and father in Poland. I can’t even remember what I said – only that it was absolutely funny…

The trips we made to Zagreb and Beograd were fantastic. It was incredibly hot in Zagreb and it rained on several occasions in Beograd; however, we managed to buy what we needed. The journey was exhausting. They behaved terribly at the Serbian border and we had to wait in queues for a long time. Along with the food, I didn’t like that I couldn’t feel relaxed. I was ashamed – I understood them, but couldn’t respond, lol! I am happy I went camping, it was so funny!

Chris, age 17

Hi all! Today I’m going to tell you about my amazing journey from Bulgaria to Austria. So, one fine day my friends and I left from Sofia, Bulgaria, to Austria. Having set off early in the morning and not having crossed the Bulgarian border yet, I couldn’t wait for us to arrive in this incredible country.

On our way to Austria we passed through three beautiful countries as well – Serbia, Slovenia, and Croatia. The views we saw were astounding: two intersecting rivers in Serbia, that mystical and ghostly castle at the top of the beautiful mountain, and many more.

After we had travelled all day long, we stayed in Zagreb in the evening. This is an exceptional city with a lot of cultural and historical sights. The angelic golden statues, the enormous panorama, the botanical garden, and the atmosphere of the city altogether is different and magnetic! On the next morning my agreeable and irreplaceable fellow company and I started for Austria again. On our way I was already eager that we arrived. So, with trepidation and anticipation we reached our major goal – Austria. One of my first memories is the huge castle in the suburbs where we spent the night.

Once we have accommodated ourselves, I met the boys and girls from the other countries – Poland, Bosnia and Herzegovina, England, and Macedonia. We talked and had fun on the meadow. At dinner I got to know better also the other kids in the canteen.

The next day, after breakfast, we had been assigned some activities by the organizers of the event, who we had met in the morning. The tasks were interesting and I did them together with the kids from the other countries – always with a smile and enjoying myself. I was happy that I was in this unique place among these unique people!

So, every day we did different activities, we got to know each other better and better, I got used to them and had great fun. We went to a swimming-pool, drew graffiti, hiked in the mountain and took part in various workshops. This experience was just amazing for me. When the last evening set in, we all said “good-bye” and “see you soon”. The next day, my friends and I, set off again to Bulgaria. We got home and we all took to our daily chores.

What remained were just my warm memories about

These extraordinary days

Those wonderful people

And that beautiful Austria