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My EVS experience

It is so hard to believe that in less than two weeks I will be back in Austria – for good.

This was an incredible year. A year full of mind-blowing and enlightening experiences. A year filled with happy, but also sad memories. A year I used to think, to learn and to discover. Not only did I learn a new language and discover a foreign country, I also discovered and learned about myself. I want to share some of my experiences and maybe motivate others to take the leap and go abroad.

For those who don’t know what exactly I did – I did a European Voluntary Service (EVS) in Pesaro, a beautiful city located on the Italian Adria coast. I spent 10 months working at the Red Cross and my free time traveling about.

I decided to do this for several reasons. On the one hand, I did not know what I wanted to study or even if I wanted to study, on the other hand, I wanted to get away from home for some time. Of course, there exists a broad variety of possibilities to go abroad but the EVS just seemed the right thing for me. It gave me the opportunity to explore a new country while having all the security and support I could wish for.

In the beginning it took me quite some time getting used to my new living environment and the Italian ways of life. I did not only have to adapt to the Italian culture though, but also the very different culture(s) of my 5 flatmates. Let me tell you: the cleaning plan was a huge improvement. We had to do several “meetings” to find some common ground and to be able to actually communicate. Some time around Christmas I was even thinking about leaving my EVS. Due to my lack of plan concerning my future (what would I do once I go home), though, I decided to continue – and it was the best decision I could ever have made.

In the new year some pressure was lifted off my shoulders. I got more in touch with myself and also the Italian culture. I started doing sport on a regular basis and putting travel plans in place. Together with 9 other volunteers from Pesaro we went to see Venice in the end of February. This was not only a team-building experience, it also gave me a lot of energy and motivation for the rest of my EVS. Venice, though, was only the first of many journeys.

There was, however, a totally different level of exploring happening, as I already mentioned. I found out so much about myself and I am so grateful for this opportunity – which I am sure I would’ve never had, had I stayed in Austria. This was such an important part of my EVS but it is incredibly hard to describe – you have to live it, to know what I am speaking about. What I can say is that I developed a different view on the world and the people around me and that I was able to broaden my horizon and – maybe even more importantly – my comfort zone.

Last but not least I want to share my great experience when meeting so many other volunteers during the two (obligatory) trainings. I met an unbelievable amount of awe-inspiring and motivated young people from all corners of Europe and all other countries. It gave me such a great sense of being connected with the whole world and a lot of hope for the future.

All in all, I can only say that I don’t regret anything I did during those last 10 months, even though I am also ready and more than happy to get back to Austria.

I hope I was able to motivate and interest you – or maybe you know somebody who might want to take up this opportunity.

Here is the link to the official website. Take a chance and just do it! https://europa.eu/youth/solidarity_de

Theresa

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