This year was one of my fastest year ever. I still remember the day I came here, see my apartment, meet some people, who are going to turn out later to be a family to me. I guess in the beginning, I didn’t have too many expectations. I was so excited to start a new life here, so everything seemed so pink anyway. The city was green, the people were nice and helpful, I met an old friend again. Our coordinator was super cooler than I expected. We had a big green garden, ‘casa loca’ as common place, I got the pocket money and my bike the moment I came, so didn’t even have to think about what I should do. But my first impressions on my flat was scary. The room was covered by spider webs, the walls were extremely damaged. I know that, Eurowerkstatt, my organization, already cleaned, it was not their fault. It was the old volunteer who doesn’t know how to live in an apartment. But we handled really good with my roommates and created our new home. In the evening of the day I came, there was a goodbye meeting for old volunteer of my project. They were very welcoming, they invited me as well so I could meet with everybody.
The first month was orientation month, we visited the city, heard the historical and cultural facts, discovered social areas and our projects. It was perfectly organized and helpful for getting to know each other and the city. We got tips from people who have been living there for a while including old volunteers. Eurowerkstatt had our bikes checked, supplied our missing stuff at home, showed how to plant the garden if we want to. By the end of the month, I started my volunteering in my project, youth center Polaris. During the year we had many other activities, such as having breakfast, dinner together, boat trip, barbeques etc. Eurowerkstatt is one of the best organizations that we could have.
Apparently, Polaris was my dream job environment and I didn’t even know it before I came here. In the beginning, of course I was shy, felt really strange to the process. But including the other volunteers, all team was very helpful and supporting. I have learned everything that I wanted to. They were so professional about how to approach me and mentor me. First few months, I was most of the time observing in different tasks, in time my tasks evolved and got bigger. With my tasks, I have evolved as well. Now I have more confident and trust in myself. I have seen, what I love to do, and what I don’t. I have learned to say no, when its necessary. Taking responsibilities helped me a lot to understand the culture, the field, work ethics and etc. I will really miss working in Polaris and my team.
At home was also really fun and respectful. We shared a lot, we talked each problem to solve, tried to be family more than a people who live together. We discovered together, grew up together. We handled corona times by supporting each other way away from our beloved ones.
But living with a lot of EU citizens as a non-EU citizen made me realized how much different the possibilities and priorities we have. My EVS year helped me to improve in many ways. But because of corona I know that many other non-EU citizens cannot even apply for visa because being volunteer is not serious in their eyes. But being volunteer is as much important as working or studying. Self-learning process, cultural exchange and experiencing another country should be also priority to give visa to give other people opportunities like that. As non-EU citizens, we already have many problems to deal with, at least asking for visa shouldn’t be one.