Have you ever felt that you had enough from one place? The urge to pack your bags and explore some new areas? I did.
I was finishing my studies in Skopje, on the Faculty of Philology and Literature “Blazhe Koneski” and I was just not prepared for the things that come after that, like getting a 9 to 5 job and stabilizing at one place. I wanted more. I wanted to see how my life would turn out if I were in a different place, far from all the people I know and out of my comfort zone. I’ve heard about this program EVS, or European voluntary service, that gives you the opportunity to volunteer in an organization in a different country for a period of one-year maximum and covers all of your costs. I applied to few different calls and got accepted at one – Mladiinfo Slovensko, in Bratislava.
I knew almost nothing about the country or the city where I was about to move so that seemed like a perfect opportunity for me. A new place full of fresh starts. Just what I needed! My first impression was that it’s not that different from home actually. The architecture, the history, the language…everything was familiar but still new.
It took me few months to adapt and find my place here but eventually, I did it. Bratislava turned from a city that meant nothing to me, to a city that will always stay in my heart. I’ve met some very nice and interesting people here that have made my stay even nicer and that had an effect on my personal growth.
One of the advantages that I as a volunteer have is the flexible work hours and the ability to travel. Bratislava has a very good location. Few big cities are an hour or two away and it doesn’t cost much to get to cities like Wien, Budapest or Prague. I have wonderful memories of these cities from the trips we had with the other volunteers.
I also had the chance to discover Slovakia and now I can see that nature here is beautiful. Large forests which are full of life. The Carpathians, the home of wolves, bears, lynx and chamois. The largest karst area in Central Europe. Crystal clear glacial lakes, peaceful lowland rivers, a paradise for birds, the blue surfaces of water reservoirs. Sand dunes and pine forests, formations created by volcanic activity. Unbelievable diversity in such a small area.
The winter period may be a little dry but there are much more possibilities during the spring and summer. Except for the private trips that you can organize for yourself, there is an offer for some very interesting festivals. Quite recently I went to one amazing hippie festival in one eco village at the north of the country and I will be participating, with my organization, at the biggest music festival in Slovakia – Pohoda.
Being given the freedom of choosing some part of my activities I have been spending some days volunteering in one local Cirkus organization, helping with acrobatics to adorable kids and also trying to learn some acrobatics myself, simply the chance that I wouldn’t have at home. At the end of the month of July, I will also take place in one work camp, for restoring a castle, at the East as the co-leader with INEX Slovakia.
EVS could be a wonderful opportunity to discover yourself on a personal and professional level. One of the most important things is to choose your project right and to have the luck to be in an organization that really cares about you and your needs. Someone you can learn something from, but who also lets you discover and nurture your own interests.
I have the luck to be in an organization whose main topics are informing young people about their possibilities and informal education. But not all have that luck. I have also met some volunteers that are either having too many obligations or others who have nothing to do. That’s why in order to get the most from your EVS, it’s important to choose the organization instead of location.
If you are in doubt whether or not to go for an EVS I would strongly recommend – DO IT! Choose wisely though! 🙂
Author: Tamara Ivanova (EVS volunteer in Mladiinfo Slovensko)