A Year of Experience
Taking a gap year after university, leaving everything home and taking two bags of my new life with me was a big decision. EVS in Estonia was my choice. Even though, my knowledge about this country was poor, I never worked with kids and Estonian language was just kind of different, there was no reason to quit.
But let´s start from beginning. It took me a lot of time to find appropriate EVS project for myself. I sent hundreds of e-mails, with little hope to get the opportunity. One day, I got reply from organization EstYes, which coordinates projects around Estonia. There was a list of current projects, so I applied for Haabersti Leisure centre in Tallinn. Later, after writing application and having skype interview I received an e-mail, that they approved me!
So I packed all my treasures and left in September 2014 to Estonia. Cold winter, strong wind and darkness – everybody’s cared us from beginning. Well, I would lie, if I said that it’s not true, but this was something I wanted to experience. Estonia is a beautiful country, flat and with thousands of lakes and 50% of the country is covered by forest. The sunsets in spring are unbelievable. Something for people, who love nature. But yes, the winter is long. And dark. And cold. But believe me, after some time you get really used to it and become much more resistant to any weather conditions (no complaining about rain outside anymore).
But what was the reason to move to Estonia?
My hosting organization was Youth centre in Haabersti district of the capital, Tallinn. That was a place, where I spent most of my time, where I met great people, had fun and learnt a lot. From the beginning I was taken not only as a volunteer, but also as a youth worker, what gave me a very good feeling, that I am respected and my opinion is important. As a youth centre we provided very active environment for youngsters, we organized many youth events, competitions and city camps. I’ve never been so close to kids and teenagers, than during this period of time. At the end of my EVS I decided to do my personal project. Every volunteer can apply for little financial support for his/hers idea and make it happen. We decided to do a makeover of our Art classroom.
Living in the international environment was a way, how to get to know different cultures and understand them better. I got to know great people from all around Europe and traveled not only in Estonia but also to other neighbor countries. I made so many friendships, which last even after the EVS and I know, there will always be a place to stay, when visiting foreign countries.
EVS for me means not only volunteering itself (which is crucial part), but also getting more responsible, more adult and respectful to others. This year was a year of experience, which made me much more open-minded. Tough situations taught me to keep positive mindset and solve problems before complaining.
If somebody asked me, whether I would recommend EVS program, there would be only one right answer – YES! It’s a school of real life and it makes you stronger, happier and more thankful for everything you have!