Written by: 
Nađa Jovičin Monday, 25 January, 2021 - 17:16

Christmas From a Distance

Finding a home away from home can be difficult, but these young people managed not only to spend the holidays perfectly happy wherever they were but to give time and energy to others’ and brighten up their (holi)days as well.

Erasmus Student Network opened a contest in December, Christmas from a Distance, to inspire young people to show how they spend their holidays abroad. After receiving many applications, these three participants especially touched our hearts and showed to the world that home is where your heart is, not only a geographical location.

When the 22-year old Laura Silvia Wilkins saw the holidays in her university dorm approaching with many students unable or unwilling to go home, she decided to do something to bring the Christmas spirit back. The Erasmus student from Università degli studi di Torino took it upon herself to recruit friends and go door to door playing Christmas music. What started as a joke ended bringing cheer and happiness to many students; this small act of kindness united people facing a difficult situation and created the feeling we all love the most during the holiday season - togetherness. Even if it was just a laugh and a few singing moments, the initiative was not only heart-warming for everyone to see, but also showed us how little it can take to unite people. 

Dorms are one thing, but how does a house feel like during the holidays? Friends and housemates Adèle Brouet, Louise Godard, and Loriane Malesson wanted to show to the world the beauty of living in a multicultural home called HippoHouse. The Brussels-based diverse gang live in a big house totalling at 12 people, but the three girls decided to surprise their housemates by creating a video of them joking around and dancing to Christmas music. Gathered under one roof, the group became very close during the pandemic in 2020 and according to the 22-year old Loriane being together “has only brought positive things and good vibes”. Finding fun must have been difficult, but ultimately rewarding since this non-traditional family had plenty of merry times and probably some Christmas cookies too.   

Acts of kindness come in many shapes and forms, and the Erasmus Generation is nothing if not daring. Joan Rico Orero had a quite unusual winter because instead of listening to a fireplace cracking cosy at home, he went off to an adventure. In the Hazewinkel lake in Belgium, participants with disabilities and volunteers came together to enjoy water sports. The 24-year old exchange student from Valencia pointed out the kindness and helpful nature of the organisers who strive to raise money to charity through similar summer and winter activities. What inspired the Aerospace Engineering student Joan was his first experience in Belgium when he came to help as a volunteer in a summer camp where people with disabilities practice watersports during a whole week. Not only did he make friends, but he had an opportunity to donate money through completing laps in windsurfing, paddling, and kayaking in a closed circuit. This unique experience is likely to stay with anyone who dares to choose an alternative way to spend Christmas by helping others. 

No one can deny that this holiday season was difficult because many families were forced to spend their Christmas from a distance. Nonetheless, people found a way to unite with each other and create a community sharing laughs, Christmas music, and a good atmosphere proving that a family is whatever we call one. 

Erasmus Student Network congratulates the winners of the contest and wishes them all the best while they enjoy gifts from our trusted partners. Perlego is a digital online library focusing on the delivery of academic, professional and non-fiction eBooks which will make any student’s life easier without libraries, while Eurosender shipping makes gift-giving from a distance an affordable reality. Those stuck at home with no gifts can still share the fun with the Ultimate Ears wireless speakers with features and experiences regularly updated. Tickets for museums, shows, and attractions have never been closer online through Tiqets, an innovative ticketing platform that simplifies cultural experiences for members of the Erasmus Generation.

 

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