“One more step to the better version of myself” • Liza Chimakadze

I was in the queue for interview listening to other people talking about their experience stories and thinking about going home… Then I said to myself: “Liza, just try. You’re losing nothing”. That’s how it started – one of the most important parts of my life.

Hello, my name is Liza. I’m studying journalism at the International Black Sea University, but it’s not the only thing I’m interested in. I’m addicted to discovering new musicians, their songs and meeting new people, especially from different countries and with different points of views.

I can remember the day when my friend sent me this project, where was written that everything was covered. It sounded little unbelievable, but I decided to try. I sent my information on the last day. Then was a short interview. And then the call, a very unexpected call, which changed a lot of things. I realized from the moment that something really important was starting, but I couldn’t realize that it was really happening.

It was my first time leaving my country and first Erasmus+ project at the same time. Of course, the first thing that came to my mind was visiting other country, but the second one was the people, who are the most important part of the projects like this. I was little nervous, because I didn’t know the participants from my country either, but I immediately calmed down, when I met them. We wanted to see Porto, that’s why we bought tickets two days earlier, booked a hostel and started getting ready for a cultural evening, which was really fun, because we are not professional dancers or cooks, but we tried our best to show our beautiful and various country to foreigners.

Of course, it’s hard when you leave your own comfort zone and go to unknown country with unknown people. Also I didn’t have big experience of communicating in English language, but in this project I studied one more time that the more you believe in yourself, the better you can make everything.

First days in Portugal were amazing despite of rainy days, because I loved colorful buildings and tight streets. The main thing was that I was with people who were ready to enjoy from the moment. We walked a lot, laughed, ate national dishes, drank Port wine, visited museums, etc.

After two days we went to Vila Nova De Tazem – Tangerines’ planet. We met a lot of participants from different countries. It wasn’t love at first sight, because some of them were already friends, some of them were less communicative and so on. But some activities and ice-breakers helped us to get to know with each other better. Soon I discovered, that yes, we are from very different countries, we have different cultures, different personalities and age too, but we had one common problem – problem of gender equality, and the same desire to solve this problem as citizens. It is very pleasant that you study from games and changing experiences and not only from reading books. I think that this project developed my skills and creativity too.

In addition to activities we visited cheese factory, wine factory, Portuguese folk dance classes, etc. On the last day we visited a school and a university to share our experiences and discuss about gender equality problems and ways to solve them.

I have to mention Portuguese people, who are very positive and always ready to help you. That’s why I was full of positive energy despite of busy days. We, participants became a big family, that’s why saying goodbye was the hardest part of the project.

To sum up, I want to say to other young people, that I always thought that exchange programs like this were for only very special people with great skill of communication in English language. I was in the queue for interview and thinking about going home, because I thought that I wouldn’t be the chosen girl, but it wasn’t true. So, leave your houses and use all of your opportunities to become better persons and better yourselves.