World Exchange – Our Energy stories – Cristiano from Italy
I’m Cristiano and I come from Spello, a little town in the center of Italy. I’m a student at the University of Perugia, and I’m studying for a master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering. I was browsing the internet while I was on break between classes when I found an announcement regarding a call for participants to the World Exchange. I got very interested in the main theme of the program – renewable energies – because I had studied them at my university and I wanted to know more about the theme. I had only one doubt: I had never heard of exchanges before, so I couldn’t imagine what I would encounter. But I just thought “Why not try?,” and at the end it turned out to be the most beautiful experience of my life!
That same day I decided to send my application but I thought that I didn’t have a good chance to be selected because, come to think of it: travelling to Malaysia which is located on the other side of the world, having a lot of activities in Kuala Lumpur (one of the world’s most futuristic cities), having a complete training on renewable energies – it was too big to be given to a guy who didn’t have any experience before. Fortunately I was wrong: each of us can have a chance, and I had mine.
My first step was to know the Italian team with which I would start the adventure – all of them had some experiences in other past exchanges and I was a bit scared to not be good enough. But it only took me a few hours spending time with them to be assured that it wasn’t a problem at all. Something that struck me the most was the strong feeling that the guys felt for their last exchange; I couldn’t understand it at that time, but at the end of my exchange I felt the same.
There are no words to describe the amazing atmosphere I found in Malaysia when I arrived: imagine skyscrapers, towers and huge shopping centers. The exchange took place at the building of the non-governmental organization Science of Life Studies 24/7 (SOLS 24/7), where I met other participants from Malaysia, Indonesia, Cambodia, Hungary and France. Within 20 minutes’ walk, you can find the jungle, huge palm plantations, temples and monkeys ready to steal your sandwich! You can also find a church, a mosque and a Buddhist temple right next to each other. You can eat in an Indian restaurant, purchase from a Chinese market or buy some fruits at a local vendor, just going across the same street.
At the beginning, I thought it was impossible to learn the names of more than thirty people in just a few days because my memory had never served me well before. Also considering the fact that some names were completely different from the usual ones we have in Italy and given my bad skills – it seemed impossible to memorize. However, whether it’s magic or not, with great amazement I realized that after a couple of days, I remembered everyone, and now I think I will never forget them.
We have done a lot of activities together, all of them carried out with a smile and the desire to do more. We shared our food, our songs, our dances, our clothes, and last but not least, our lifestyles. We took together a huge amount of pictures, with which we can fill a wall. At the end of the project we felt like members of a great family. I was 10,000 kilometers away from my house, but I felt at home. The really unexpected thing for me was that besides learning the culture of other countries, you can find out more about the culture of your own country too and you realize that many things that you take for granted are important and you can be proud of them.
Surely, one of the funniest moments, especially for sports lovers, was the afternoon when we organized an international football match in a field on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur. It was amazing for me to see Asian guys playing without shoes and kicking as strong as me who was wearing them! So you can imagine the situation.
I’ve found that there are a lot of experiences that you can’t learn from books, you just have to live it! Personally I think I love my academic career and the road I decided to take with my university. But thanks to this exchange, I have realized that formal education just can’t be enough to complete a person totally – it is not the only thing that can satisfy you. With World Exchange, I found the half that completes my person. So I hope everyone has the chance to participate in this at least once in their life.