The 24-year-old Natasa Stojanoska from Skopje, an English language and literature graduate, tells her experience regarding EVS, after she has spent three months in Estonia, Tallinn. This is her personal view on EVS and her host country…
…I never really felt alone. At the time there was a fellow Macedonian volunteer who introduced me into the volunteers’ community. I met a hoard of experienced (and less experienced) volunteers who were going through the same I was. I had plenty of people I felt I could talk to whenever I needed advice.
People are curious, contradictory beings that avoid definitions. I have always found definitions rather dull… and finite. We are all aware that to live is to change. I might have been obsessing over the idea of enrolling in art school in my early teenage years, but my first lesson of Italian in the senior year of high school brought a sudden change of heart. My fascination with languages has been growing (and altering) ever since. If I had to list my major fields of interest, language would be one of them. It carries limitless power. Words glorify and sacralize. Often, however, they corrupt and destruct. The Great Goe is famous for saying that having no knowledge in foreign languages is having no knowledge of your own, statement I strongly uphold. Language is fascinating in its power of binding us all, or, likewise, separating us.
Previous knowlege about EVS
Tidbits about the European voluntary service first reached me at a Portuguese language and culture workshop held at a Skopje youth organization. The idea enraptured me. Having just graduated from university and having dedicated most of my time to job hunting, I had some amount of time to spare so I did a brief research. Soon after, I got distracted having gotten immersed into translation.
My short-term EVS project was sort of a happy accident. A volunteer-to-be had given up their short-term project so I contacted my sending organization online and applied. The next day they told me I am flying to the Estonian metropolis in three weeks.
Adjusting to the new environment
A lot of enthusiasm and excitement accompanied the preparations. I was going to live on my own for the first time in my life (and abroad!). Culture-shocked and shaken I sure was. In the positive sense of the word, Estonians are the most polite creatures to have ever walked the Earth. Being a keen people watcher, I enjoyed observing Baltic Northerners and comparing them to Balkan Southerners. Estonia, although being a former Soviet state, has a fully European charm to it. I remember putting my headphones on and embarking on adventures, exploring the narrow, cobblestoned alleys of Vana Tallinn. I was taken aback by the neatly trimmed hedges in Kadriorg and the shiny-surfaced streets, a neatness which is, sadly, a rarity at home. Drivers stopping at pedestrian crossings! Now, that’s something which happens once in a blue moon in Skopje.
Being all alone in a foreign country
I never really felt alone. At the time there was a fellow Macedonian volunteer who introduced me into the volunteers’ community. I met a hoard of experienced (and less experienced) volunteers who were going through the same I was. I had plenty of people I felt I could talk to whenever I needed advice. I was already starting to feel at home in the second month of my stay.
Broad-mindedness and asking questions for me are two words that define EVS. Be curious. Curiosity can lead us to the most interesting places imaginable. And travel. I love the sight of a packed suitcase full of neatly folded clothes and a pair of shined shoes ready for the road. I could go on and on…