Already more or less 1.5/2 years ago I said “goodbye” to an amazing year and to my second home-country Estonia. I was leaving Estonia with a heart full of joy and memories, with new friends and experiences I won’t forget! <3
At home my family and friends welcomed me with a lot of hugs, kisses and good food. Even though it felt weird being surrounded by all of them again, I was (am) very happy seeing everyone again and talking about all my small and big adventures at least 300 times.
After coming home in the beginning august I had a great summer – I went to a concert, attended a music-festival, made a super spontaneous trip to Paris and Amsterdam with my boyfriend, dyed my hair purple :D and just enjoyed being at home. Nonetheless I had to think about my future and I decided to study psychology in Graz. Luckily, I passed the “exam”, which you have to make in order to start studying. After a great summer I was moving to Graz. (from left to right on the picture: festival, Paris, Amsterdam & Graz)
What am I doing now?
I am still studying psychology in Graz and I am really happy with my choice. Thanks to moving into a student dorm it was easy to get in touch with new people and making new friends. I think this is where EVS helped me a lot – thanks to the experience, I was able to step out of my comfort zone and just started to talk to “random people”.
Next to the student dorm I was also able to get to know people of my studies and made new friends there as well.
What I really like about Graz, besides the fact, that it is a really cool student-city, is, that two former volunteers (Jana & Philipp) are also studying here. Even though we don’t see each other that often, it is always really cool when we find the time, as we talk a lot about the Maleva-partys, with who we are in touch and what we know from others.
But besides studying, what am I doing? :D well of course studying, but I still try to travel (on a budget :D). With two friends of mine I travelled to Marrakesh, which was a huge adventure (not joking, it really felt like in a movie)! Not only because we were living in a different time zone, as our phones did not change automatically to the time in Marrakesh (so still Austrian time), which made us miss the bus, ... almost. But we didn’t inform us much about money and if our cards will work there (let me tell you – they did not :D). Next to that adventure I was in Portugal for 3 weeks with my boyfriend, which was really nice – we really had a great and relaxing time there.
Next to travelling I now play also in an orchestra, join climate-change demos and demos about woman rights and I am learning Austrian sign-language.
And of course, I meet friends, go out and just enjoy my life as a student.
Is EVS still a “part of my life after”?
Yes. On the one hand because my sister is doing a voluntary service right now in Bucharest, but on the other hand also because EVS made a huge impact in my life.
Not only because I have stories to tell about Estonia and living there, but also because I feel more secure. More secure in talking English, more secure about starting conversations and more secure about myself (self-confidence).
Thanks to working with kids I learned how to plan activities in a way that is suitable for different age groups, what helped me with looking after kids in Graz (doing that to get some money :D). Thanks to living alone I also know how to use my time, when no one finds time to do something (happens not really often actually :D). And of course – the obvious – EVS is still in my life, because people I have met during that year are still part of my life, as I am trying to stay in contact with them. <3
What is also really cool are of course the stories I can tell – starting with traveling to different countries and being in touch with so many people from all over the world, but also about the ups and downs and about my workplace in the youth center.
When talking about traveling I will always remember the trip to Russia and our expired visa. Thinking back, even though it was quite a shock at that moment, I can laugh about it. What I also like to remember from that journey is, when Tania and I climbed up a bridge and enjoyed the view – even though it was nothing big, I like to think about it and how good life was (still is :D). The road-trip in the (almost) end of my EVS are such good travel-memories. I remember when I was driving and the “navi” told us the direction and somehow, I was driving on a bicycle path #ups. :D But honestly, there are so many more very good travel-experiences and good memories related to all my volunteer-friends – just as the small ones, when going to Tõrva or Võru, just to have a chill weekend. <3
But of course, also during work a lot of things happened. Actually, I have so many good memories and I could write pages over pages about it – but if you want to reminisce then you can also just read my blogs I wrote during EVS.
Nonetheless I would like to share some happy memories about the work in the youth center. Some might be small, just as when I got asked, if I want to play with some girls “just dance” or bigger ones, when an event was a success. I also really enjoyed the summer, the art-week and the camps – I mean those were quite exhausting, but nonetheless I have so many so happy memories about it (like doing an EVS workshop, enjoying the summer sun with the kids, seeing a bus station changing and seeing everyone who is helping – and endless more).
And as I mentioned, I was living alone, so of course I also have memories about Hargla and the people living there. I remember when I came a lot of people where not smiling much at me or said something, while in the end, at the very last event I attended at the youth center, people hugged me and thanked me. During 11 months they got used to me :D – I was part of the “old ladys club” and in the beginning I was weird that I was not a coffee-drinker, while in the end they already asked, which tea I want. :D
Thinking back, I almost get nostalgic about my life in Estonia. <3 It was such a great year about which I am still very grateful! One memory about my “life after”, but is also really connected to my EVS is, that I had the opportunity to go to Brussels and join the “European youth week”, because my project was kind of nominated. #wooooaa :D
But to not only talk about me, I would like to give some tips for people who are thinking about doing EVS. My tip is “say yes”. Say yes to the change and to the experiences that are waiting for you. I know it is scary to look for projects and then get the acceptance and from one moment to another it is “real” – you are really going abroad for a longer period of time. Try to find the right project, no matter where it is located – even though everyone else thought, that in Hargla I will go crazy, as it is such a small village (I hope I did not – till now no one said anything so I am sure I am still myself :D) – and here I am, telling everyone it was the coolest & best year ever! :D So “say yes”, even if it is frightening in the first place, I am sure it will turn out pretty amazing! <3
(In the last picture you can see some more highlights since I am back home :D, just as the view while snowboarding, visiting my sister in Bucharest and so on)