I’ve been thinking for a long time how to start writing about this experience because to sum up 8 amazing months into one article seems to be close to impossible. The European voluntary service has been my dream ever since the university but it always seemed unreachable, firstly because of self-limitations and later because of my age.
However, to whoever who is reading this right now, I’d like to say that it truly is never too late and you should never give up on your dreams. Each one of you can find your project and spend few wonderful months or a year abroad!
‚Seek and you shall find‘, they say. Although my project found me, completely unexpectedly , and it found me in the darkest times when I stopped looking for it and when I had no idea anymore what I should do next and I was desperately yearning for change and for something that would make me feel alive again. A new start, a new challenge, a new life.
In the end I found in Italy way more than I‘d expected.
Since my Italian hosting organisation Vicolocorto was urgently looking for a volunteer, everything went down really quickly. One day I sent my CV and cover letter, the next one I had the Skype interview and on the third day I received an e-mail saying that they chose me. And so barely a week after I reacted to the call, in the middle of November 2018 in the early morning hours, I found myself standing at Pesaro train station, ready for my new start.
The welcoming was indescribable. Not only from my hosting organisation Vicolocorto, but above all from the 5 fellow volunteers who were impatiently waiting for me in our small unique arch house in Santa Veneranda and who later told me that when I arrived, they didn‘t feel as if a stranger came to the house, but as if someone just came back home. And that’s exactly how they made me feel there, like at home.
What followed was unbelievable 8 months full of new friendships, adventures, trips, parties, bike rides, volunteer work, occasional arguments, love, understanding, and self-growth. I‘ve never felt so dearly accepted, respected and loved.
The work for Vicolocorto was very diverse. Together with other 3 volunteers we worked in different organisations, f. e. we helped kids with their homework, we spent time in the centre for mentally challenged youth, we spent one afternoon each week in the library and anyone who wanted could come and practice the foreign languages with us, in a friendly non-formal environment; we helped in the centre for disabled people and later when the summer started we were also going to the summer camp. Apart from that we also promoted EVS and volunteering at local high schools and presented our countries at elementary schools. We always started the week with tutoring and the online language course, and finished it by psychology session with our sweet psychologist and the other volunteers from Red Cross who also became my dear friends. Our schedule would change from time to the time according to the needs of our organisation, but we never worked more that we should and we always had our free time.
I can only recommend Vicolocorto, even though things maybe didn‘t always work out the way or as fast as they should J – the stereotype of Italians having time proved right – , but they made us, volunteers, feel as an important part of the team right away and just the level of humanity that I was met there with is something I‘ve never experienced anywhere else. And I shall forever be grateful to all four of them for this amazing opportunity.
A great thank you goes also to my sending organisation Mladiinfo Slovensko who helped me to deal with all the important paperwork and prepared me thoroughly before sending me off to this grand adventure.
I didn‘t experience any cultural shock in Italy, the only thing that I, as a Slovak, found really unproductive were the long lunch breaks. But when the summer hit the city, even I appreciated them. I didn‘t manage to improve my Italian that much, but that’s something very individual and it depends on the skills and approach of each volunteer. Of course the Spanish and French had it easier since Italian is somewhat similar to their own mother tongues, while I was just entertaining everyone around with how strangely different the Slovak language is. Everyone seemed to like it, though, and I even heard that it apparently sounds sensual.
For me my EVS was above all about the people, the relationships and about myself. Professionally it definitely gave me the priceless experience of working and living abroad in the multicultural environment; but it forever changed me especially thanks to all the connections that I made there, by each friendship and each shared moment, by everything that formed us and allowed us to unbelievably grow on the personal level.
So stop doubting, find your own dream project and get out of your comfort zone.
All the magic really does happen outside of it.
If you have any questions, feel free to contact me on my e-mail address