Feeling cozy at your new home
Due to some issues with documents, the entire project had to start 1 month late – in November. Cracow is quite dark and rainy in November, which made it somewhat harder to feel positive in the new place, but people in the project were very welcoming and so was our apartment, because we made a big effort to make it look and feel like home right away. I recommend you to do the same. It’s best that you turn your new home into your safe place, it will pay off later.
Make new friends
In the first 3 months we had to stay in quarantine for 2 weeks TWICE plus we traveled home for Christmas. This made our adaptation period in the project quite long and hard, but we spent a lot of time together and became really close with each other, which was amazing for the project. Months later we had a very stressful period and a lot of changes in the project due to the war in Ukraine and the number of refugees fleeing to Cracow.
I can imagine that if we didn’t have each other, we would most probably all have left the project at this time. Instead we managed it all and started to spend 1 day a week volunteering in a place where we helped distribute donated clothes to the Ukrainian refugees. We helped organize workshops making food and other things for the refugees and shared tons of information on how to help the refugees on social media. All of this made a huge difference for many people.
I believe that connecting with the new people around you can turn your experience around completely, which brings me to another thing I dealt with in the project that might be helpful for you to read about.
How to get along with 6 people when all of you have to share a flat and 1 bathroom
Divide your chores in the house and do them properly, so you don’t make each other’s lives harder. Set some rules and boundaries that will help everyone feel comfortable, but won’t oppress others at the same time.
For instance: if you want to take a bath that takes 1 hour, first ask everyone if they need to use the toilet, or: if you need to shower in the morning, wake up extra early, so other people don’t have to wait 30 minutes to brush their teeth or pee before leaving the house, etc.
This should prevent unnecessary conflicts.
If you feel like there are some issues in the house, it’s also good to organize a meeting with all of you and talk about it openly, rather than to hold a grudge and slowly start hating someone.
In winter time, there wasn’t so much happening in the clubs we worked in because of covid. I used this extra time to think about what I can do during the rest of the year and almost every idea that I came up with was supported by people in the project. However, because of the issues with covid, extra work when the war in Ukraine started and ultimately because of me postponing the things that could have been done earlier, not all of my propositions could have been turned into reality.
Therefore, maybe a little piece of advice for you: if you have an idea and you’re excited about it, try to make it happen as soon as possible even though you have 12 months in the project …because many unexpected changes may happen during your project too and then you might not have the chance to carry out all of your ideas.
I hope you manage to make the best out of your experience. For me, looking back at the project, I feel like it was a great opportunity to express my creativity, make new connections, gain confidence in myself and my capacities, gain extra skills in teamwork, organizing events, learn languages, etc, …and I believe that all of this combined with the amazing friends I made there has completely changed my direction in life for the better. I hope it will be the same, or even better for you!
You can also read more information about the project here: https://volunteerinkrakow.dworek.eu/2022/09/22/letter-from-kristian/