To Be your Own Boss

To Be your Own Boss

Angelina Aleksandrova

(Bulgarian Youth Forum)

Are you curious what it’s like going on a youth exchange (YE)? Have you already been on one and are looking to be a team leader next? 

Let me share with you what my last youth exchange was like and how my first time being a team leader went! 

I’m Angelina or Ani for short. In August 2021, I participated in the Be your own boss YE in Croatia, and boy, was it fun! 

First, you should know that a YE is characterized by participant-led workshops, lots of fun and free time to explore the country you’re in and it’s culture. On this YE our main topics were entrepreneurship and freelance work, both forms of self-employment. 

I was super excited because our group came up with very dynamic, non-formal and fun games to teach and discuss our topics. We went out a lot, talked, created songs, theater skits, and drawings. I already have experience with self-employment and I got the chance to hear other people’s stories and learned lessons. The YE was full with awesome people, and I am very happy I’m staying in contact with my new friends! 

As a group leader, I had to check in daily with the Bulgarian group on how they like the project, the workshops, food, accommodation, and other people. Then I discussed their feedback with the other team leaders and if needed, we came up with solutions that were immediately implemented by us and the coordinator. 

As an example, after the first day, everyone was exhausted because of the intense schedule. The team leaders talked about this and decided that we will shorten the workshop duration so we can have longer breaks – we talked with our teams, and for the rest of the exchange, our workshops were up to an hour long. This let us have even more time to socialize with each other, rest, and explore Zagreb and Samobor. 

As part of every YE, there are also intercultural nights – each country team prepares something to show off their culture and food. We prepared the rest of the participants for a Bulgarian wedding by teaching them the Byala Roza horo and let them make their own souvenirs through our Martenitsa workshop 😉 The other countries danced, sung, told us stories through theater and treasure hunts! They really showed us their culture in a very unique and fascinated way. 

Besides the actual content of the YE, food and accommodation is important. The food at the hostel was nice, however, the rooms were a bit too cramped – nothing you can’t survive with good communication between roomies though. 

I loved the location – maybe 15 minutes walking from the hostel there is a castle – the Samobor Castle. It is so well preserved, and as a history geek, it was my personal highlight of the trip.