Aquinas took part in Euroweek once again as the attendees for Britain, this September. This year the students travelled to Romania, where they learnt all about different cultures. In this article, student Jessica Wolfenden shares her experience.
Aquinas was once again involved in the brilliant and inspiring annual Euroweek scheme, on 22nd September, for a week. With 21 countries involved, the students learnt all about various different cultures within the continent as well as their shared similarities with the UK. Seven of our students went on the trip, (which was to Romania this year), alongside 2 of our willing staff – eager to allow the students to become more aware of our European attendance and break down the barriers and stereotypes that separate us.
Judy Bartlett, who attended the trip with the students, spoke of the importance of the trip’s opportunity for students to ‘get to know different cultures’ and how vital this sort of collaboration with other European countries is in helping us Brits identify themselves as ‘European’ and not as completely separate from our continent, (like many consider us to be). Ultimately, the trip promoted integration and positivity towards a multicultural community of people, in a fun and appealing atmosphere.
Jessica Wolfenden, one of the students who attended the trip, said she had been “determined to go on the trip from the very beginning of college and I’m so glad I did.” She went on to say: “You could never go on a trip like this if you went to any other college as Aquinas is the only college in the UK that takes part in Euroweek. This is truly a once in a lifetime experience.”
The different people and way of living might have been daunting for some, but their fears were only short-lived as Jessica learnt:
“I suppose the most surprising aspect of the trip was just how welcoming everyone was. When you try anything new you always act on the side of caution but at Euroweek people welcomed you into their friendship groups as if they’d known you for years. People will always be ready to help you and you came out of the trip with far more friends than when you joined”.
Everyone who travelled to Romania stayed with host families. The families were unbelievably kind and generous and made the whole group feel amazingly welcomed, as per usual for this brilliant annual event:
“By staying with a completely different family, in a new country you get a real feel for what day to day life is like and how it is different to your own family life. On top of that, your hosts are some of the kindest people you will ever meet and they will do almost anything to please you and make your stay as comfortable as possible.”
“When meeting people from all over Europe you are bound to run into some cultural differences. Be it home life, the way you dress or the things you eat you’re going to clash in some way. However, it helps you to gain an appreciation for other people’s lifestyles and you get to learn from them and expand your cultural knowledge. But at the end of the day we’re all very similar in the way that you’re all there to have a good time and enjoy the week whilst it lasts.”
“I would happily go again. If there are any spaces free next year I’ll be sure to try and find a way onto the trip. When you go to Euroweek you meet some incredible people and make some life-long friends from around Europe who you probably will meet with again in the future.”
The members of the host country performed traditional dances and shows, as well as offered a range of food from all the different countries’ contributions. Aquinas students donated conventional British cuisine: scones, tea, cheese and… marmite (which provoked some provoked some ‘brilliant’ reactions, according to Judy).
Other countries brought a variety of exotic and interesting foods for the students and staff to try. For example, the students from Lapland, (which the students learnt is part of Finland and not its own country), brought reindeer meat for everyone to taste. Additionally, the students savoured cheese and honey from Greece and a Kama drink, made with ground peas and yogurt, from the Estonians.
As a whole, the trip was successful and motivating to say the least. The students took away unforgettable memories as well as a refreshed outlook on all the different cultures they celebrated whilst on the trip.
Article by Samantha Hickey