Meet the team! – On an Erasmus rollercoaster with Sara
Hello Sara and thanks for taking part in this interview! This time I would like to start with something inspirational! Is there a quote, a film, or a song that has a special meaning to you? Why?
“Stamo sempre a parlà de uguaglianze, ma ancora n’emo capito ca bellezza der monno sta nee differenze”- senzatetto conosciuto a Roma.
“We always talk about equality but we still haven’t realised that the beauty of the world is in its differences”- an unhoused person whom I met in Rome.
Could you tell us how you came in contact with Uniser and when?
It was at the end of 2018 when I was working in a retail store. At that moment I was so bored with the life I was living, and the mall I was working in started to not suit me anymore …I really needed to shake things up.
One day while I was having breakfast at the bar, I opened the local newspaper and found that Uniser was looking for some collaborators.
I thought it could be my opportunity. Without a second thought, I submitted my spontaneous application and in January 2019 I was travelling with a group of students to Maribor (Slovenia), for my first experience as a Group Leader.
Since you entered as a staff member, what have you been doing? What are your main duties?
In the beginning, I was both a Group Leader and a Buddy.
As Group Leader I coordinated activities for students of Italian schools before, during, and after their Erasmus+ project in different European countries (Maribor-Slovenia, Wroclaw-Poland, Vilnius-Lituania, Prague-Czech Republic).
As a Buddy I was involved in tasks such as welcoming and checking in groups around Emilia Romagna (Italy), but primarily in the Romagna area where I live, where I gave city tours, did welcome lunches/dinners, monitored sessions, and ran check-out operations.
By that time I was starting to gain experience and have direct contact with some Uniser Providers, such as accommodations owners, food providers, and transfer providers.
Maybe that is why, in 2021, Uniser offered me the opportunity to become a staff member on the Incoming Team as a Provider Care Operator.
Now my job is to organise every service before groups arrive in the Romagna region: (accommodation, transfer, food, local transport, conference rooms, cultural visits, etc.) and support the group during their stay. Moreover, I continue to perform Buddy tasks.
One week a month I am also available at the 24h Emergency Number to handle emergencies that students might have while they are in Italy.
Which ones do you enjoy the most and why?
I really can’t choose! The role of Group Leader was so exciting! There are a lot of reasons but if I have to choose, I loved to encourage guys to enjoy the whole experience even during their free time and help them to organise trips, participate in local events, enjoy local foods, and make new friends from different parts of the world.
As a Buddy, the tasks that I prefer are city tours in Forlì (because I love my city and I’m happy to give practical advice to enjoy the experience) and accompanying students on the very first day at the company where they will apprentice during their stay in Italy. At the same time, I share very emotionally important moments with the students and I have the opportunity to discover new things about my region.
As a Provider Care Operator, I love to understand the logistics of the arrival of a group, predict any possible issue and find solutions in advance, and to cooperate with Hosting Coordinators in order to organise everything properly. It’s challenging but very satisfying.
In general, what do you do to motivate yourself, both at work and in your personal life?
Watching “A Pale Blue Dot” by Carl Sagan is something that resizes me and reminds me that all the big problems that I have during my working day are not so big in the grand scheme of things.
During the summer time I love going to the river, watching and listening to its flow, and diving into its cold water-it’s my way to reset myself.
Oh and the thought that you never stop learning. Every single thing that happens to you during your entire life, every single person you talk to, no matter what their social background, can teach you something. Even if they teach you something bad, it is still a learning opportunity. That’s amazing, life can’t be boring.
In general, is there something you’re particularly proud of?
Of a lot of things actually. Of my family, first of all. It’s all thanks to them that I appreciate the simplicity of life.
Of my work because I know how impactful an Erasmus+ experience can bel in students’ lives and how big this opportunity is for them.
Of my colleagues, especially on the Incoming Team because despite the fact that I’ve job-hopped between a lot of fields in the past, for the very first time I know that I can trust them all and that they are always ready to help.
What do you like to do in your free time? Any hobbies or activities that you would like to share with us?
I love talking a lot about any subject, eating well , travelling with my boyfriend at every opportunity no matter where, going to concerts with friends, both in Italy and abroad, listening to Street Punk music, dancing to original Ska and Rocksteady music, going to the bar or the pub and meeting friends, supporting the Forlì basketball team, watching TV series and documentaries.
What’s your ideal type of vacation and why?
My favourite holidays? Absolutely those dedicated to adventure, preferably off the tourist track and without a fixed timetable, ideally without my mobile phone or return tickets (lol).
That’s why I would undoubtedly say backpacking is my favourite type of vacation!
Every time I go to the airport, bus station, or train station with my backpack, I feel butterflies in my stomach because I know I am about to experience a life adventure.
Backpacking lets you experience the culture and your surroundings in a more intense way. You are on the road so you get to meet new people, new perspectives, and differences from what you’ve experienced before and this helps you become more open-minded.
I prefer homestay experiences because they are more authentic and permit you to see inside the local culture, but I also like hostels in which you can meet other like-minded backpackers who share with you their incredible experiences: you always learn something new, get inspiration for your next destination and sometimes you can even find lifelong friends and keep in contact,.and maybe plan to see each other who knows where in the world next time.
Of course, you have to adapt yourself and lower your usual living standards but this is great to me because this reminds me that I don’t need much to be happy;. my happiness can be contained in a backpack 🙂
What’s the best place you’ve travelled to?
I think every place I have been has left me with an indelible memory but if I had to choose I would say Bolivia, Perù, and Chile in 2009, probably because it was my first two-month backpacking trip and the first time I was outside of Europe.
It was incredible to discover that, despite all the fears that you could have before taking off, once you arrive and after the initial adjustment period, you feel at home even halfway around the world!
It was an experience that changed my entire lifestyle.