“So, how was it abroad?” – this is one of the first questions that every traveler has to answer upon his return to the home country. The person asking the question is curious, and also expects a nice answer – if possible short, and also profound. The problem is, that this ‘one’ answer is extremely hard to give. I mean, how are you supposed to summarize weeks or month, full of memories, full of ups and downs, in one sentence? See, it’s kind of impossible.
But still, it is nice to share experiences, for both sides: the traveler gets to relive some moments and share the passion about the journey, the questioner gets to imagine what it was like, maybe dreaming about doing something similar himself.
So to give former Italian EVS volunteers abroad the chance to share their experience with us, today’s article is going to be the first one of a series of short interviews with them, in which they will tell you something about themselves, about their projects and about the whole “EVS experience”.
And here we go with our first candidate, Nicola Tallarini, who did his EVS in Austria from February to July 2014
Tell us something about you: Who are you? Where are you from? What do you do at the moment? Why did you want to do EVS?
My name is Nicola, I’m 28 years old and come from Italy (my village is close to Pesaro). I teach Italian as a foreign language.
I participated to an EVS project in Austria. Afterwards, I have decided to stay in Graz and look for work. If you participate to the EVS project, you get everything that you need to live abroad. But afterwards, if you have studied literature and live abroad, it is not easy to find work. In general, it is not easy to live (and survive) in a foreign country. That is the reason why I’m doing more than one job simultaneously: I teach Italian to children and work at the University as a lector, teaching some supplemental programs. Every day, I learn German at the University. Learning German and gaining experience through living abroad were my reasons to participate to the EVS program.
Describe your project a little bit: What was it about, what did you do and why did you choose that project?
I worked as a tutor in a youth centre in a village in Austria. For me, it was very interesting, because I didn’t know anything about youth centers before. In Gratwein (the village), I could discover the youth center “Click In” and I liked it a lot. My colleagues were very nice, helpful and professional, because they were already experienced and had completed special studies to work with young people.
How was your first impression when you arrived?
I had been to Graz before, so it wasn’t a shock for me. I was satisfied to come back there. In the youth centre I noticed immediately that the youngsters are really nice and funny. Some weeks ago I visited them and I was glad to see them happy.
Did you experience a cultural shock? How fast did you learn the new language?
Of course the language was a little shock for me. German isn’t an easy language. I had learned it a little bit by myself and then did a crash course. In Austria, they often speak a strong dialect, so I needed time to understand everything. Since I wanted to learn German, I never spoke any English.
Did you feel integrated in the local community?
I lived in Graz and went to Gratwein by train every day. There are many foreigners living in Graz, so it’s easy to feel at home. If you miss Italy, you can meet a lot of Italians, because there are many in Graz. The young people in Graz are nice, but more reserved than Italians. It’s not easy to get in contact with them.
Did you have anything that you did regularly in your free time? (sports, music…)
Since there are many beautiful bike lanes in Graz, I was biking almost every day. I often took a walk or went hiking. Together with a friend (Francesca from Pesaro), I tried to learn Wiener Walzer. We went to the theater and the opera often and also visited many museums.
All together, how would you rate your EVS experience? Was it as you expected it or totally different?
My experience was very positive. After my studies, I really wanted to do something different, and thanks to the EVS program I could work with youth and learn a new language. I was expecting to do something new and different, and I am happy that I found exactly that.
Now that your project is over, do you feel that it changed you or influenced you somehow? Is your life now different from what is was before?
Thanks to Erasmus, Youth in Action and the Leonardo program, I have had the chance to live abroad. Now I feel like I understand and know how to work with young people a lot better – something very important for me, since I want to work as a teacher.
Grazie Nicola for telling us about your experience!