Twin Cities: Youth Exchange in Carlisle

You may not know this, but Carlisle is twinned with two cities – Flensberg in Germany and Slupsk in Poland. What you may also not know is that every year a different one of these cities hosts the youth exchange. Nine of my friends and I
were lucky enough to be offered places this year and back in July after weeks of preparations we found ourselves in Slupsk! This was definitely an experience like no other and I would encourage EVRERYONE to seize an opportunity like this should you ever find yourself given one.
Where to start? From the moment we touched down we knew this trip was going to be something special. For ten days the dozen of us from Carlisle, a dozen from Flensberg and likewise from Slupsk – lived together in an amazing hostel where we shared food, conversations, games and rooms. There was NEVER a dull moment.
Stereotypically I expected Poland to be a cold and harsh place; but on the contrary it was very similar to Carlisle. The weather was shockingly bad for the mornings of the first few days and yet fine on the evenings, so they had our weather. The shops very much were the same as our own and, get this, the people look just like me or you! Another thing I had also anticipated was that there would be a lot of problems with the language barrier. Again wrong. Both the Germans and Polish spoke English so we were fine! I’ve got to say my education felt slightly inferior.
However there were some differences. One was the food. The likes of McDonald’s and Subway have obviously found their way over too but we were eating typical meals provided for us that would be eaten in Slupsk everyday. The food wasn’t what we were used to, as it was a lot less rich than our high salt/sugary foods from home and so a lot healthier for you! There was also a lot more variety. It was definitely an eye opener. The cost of everything was different too! Compared to home everything was so cheap due to differing economies. Luckily for us, another difference was that the Polish airport was a bit more lax when it came to case weights! Otherwise several of our purchases would have
had to be abandoned. But when we weren’t eating food or shopping, the trip was definitely jam packed!

In the ten days there we managed to include: A tour of Slupsk, dodgeball, a visit to an authentic polish village, countryside walks, a climb up a lighthouse, karaoke, dozens of card games, an aquapark, bowling, a cruise on a pirate ship, a visit to the Gdansk Euro 2012 stadium, a visit to Gdansk old town, a disco, twister, spray painting, a trip to the beach, several films, a BBQ and A WHOLE LOT OF LAUGHS!

On a plus we were never stressed out due to running around as we were having so much fun and often on the night times we’d be given free reign to socialise and relax. It was just simply amazing. The trip taught me a lot about different cultures and about people; that no matter where we go and whom we speak to, we’ll be fine. We’re all essentially the same – human – and friendship can be found anywhere no matter the background. I know with this newfound knowledge my confidence around new people has been boosted to the max! Now I’m so looking forward to welcoming everyone to Carlisle next year. I’d like to thank every one of the staff who helped out for making it happen, a big thank you to Carlisle City Council for the opportunity and a massive thank you to Sarah and Wendy the ‘responsible adults’.