Such a complicated exercice! I mean to look back to 11 months and to write about it. I think I can’t do it properly because this year had been so incredible and unique that it wouldn’t be fair to describe it only with some common and boring words but well let’s try!
It was the first time I was living abroad so I was quite ready to face some challenges and hard times and now that it’s done and I am home in France I can only smile reading these words because during 11 months, and trust me please it’s true, I never had the feeling – NEVER – I wasn’t belonging to this project with these people to this country.
Indeed, I had the exact opposite feeling: I was exactly at the right place doing the right thing. And this feeling I will never forget because it’s precious of course but because I understood it’s how it supposed to be in life if you want to be happy. This year made me grown up and taught me so much that I will be thankful for this amazing experience for the rest of my life I guess (how cliché but how true!).
A lot of things influenced this year in a positive way and concerning this topic I can only agree with Madara; people you meet, new experiences you get, challenges you face, travels you do, places you go and so on were an important part of our lovely daily routine. The thing I had prefered was the intercultural context!
This summer was so intense and unforgettable and how lucky was I to have the opportunity to live with people from all around the world for 2 weeks each time and to hear more about their countries and habits while volunteering. Thanks to it, I learnt more about how to be patient, flexible, open-minded and clement. And I can say I really got inspired by some of them, the way they lead their lives, how they are and what they do.
I think actually it was a really human experience. All the people I met taught me something without knowing it I guess. And I won’t exaggerate telling that I became a better version of myself in Slovakia thanks to them. I was surrounded by kind and altruist people who were always there If I needed.
This year to live in Bratislava gave me so many wonderful and singular opportunities I will never forget you have no idea. However the most important one – eventually - was to allow me to deal with myself while dealing with others J.
Now I keep all the memories and the great experiences safe and I will try to have a more meaningful life here in France!
« A man travels the world over in search of what he needs and returns home to find it. »
George A. Moore
Thanks a lot to my effervescent and bright roommate Madara, my lovely and generous colleagues Mirka, Barbi, Majka, Peto, Dominika, my supportive mentor Dasa, my friends, my sweet Slovak teacher Zuzca, my 2 temporary flatmates, participants of workcamps and all the people I met on the way...
Unfortunately, my EVS year 2015 is about to finish. This is going to be my third and sadly a last post of my diary. Are you wondering why? Mainly, because this year was so flipping busy that I even couldn't find any time for my latvian blog. To write the post for my latvian diary literally takes 3 hours and believe me - I don’t write books haha. I am not so good with writing and I rather call to all my friends/family for 3-5 hours in a row in order to avoid some post writing :D
Since my last post (before I went to Rome) I can’t remember all what had happened. One thing is sure that I travelled a lot. In total, I went to 9 big cities abroad (if I consider Slovakia as my host/home country) and unfortunately I didn't make the 10th one which was supposed to be Berlin. I got ill and even though I recovered till my actual departure date I didn't go eventually. I was not prepared for my trip at all, I hadn't planned any place where to stay and at some point I thought to spend Christmas in Slovakia might be cool, some new experience and so. So far so good. But in the end this plan didn't work out either. I was alone in Christmas time and this was not experience I expected. Luckily, some Christmas miracles exist and I had a chance to go to a mass in a church (thanks to my slovak friend). That feeling when everyone is singing ‘’Silent night’’ in slovak but me in latvian was amazing :)
Yesterday was my birthday, I turned 25!!!! Today, before 2015 is over, I’d like to look back to my 11 months in Slovakia . If I should describe it shortly I could just tell that ‘’I loved this time!’’ First of all, I developed my English skills both writing and speaking for formal and informal occasions. I like to be in an international environment and I had this opportunity during the whole year – I was a leader for the international workcamps and I made plenty of friendships in Bratislava too. However, I am not afraid to announce this word loudly - friendships - because without those people who I met I couldn't have travelled so much and I wouldn't have gain all the experience which I did (I don’t talk about the best friend thing) :) Second of all, I learnt more about people from different cultures and backgrounds, including their habits, body language and behaviours. I am still on my way to learn more because sometimes I feel there is much more to discover about each of us. Regardless of all the things I learnt about others the most I learnt about myself. Slowly I become another person, in a way. And I also hope my open-mindedness will increase way more :)
It goes without saying that I am grateful to all my kind colleagues at the INEX office who always were supportive and encouraging. As well all the people who I met on a way while running through this year - my slovak friends, my mentor, my slovak teacher, former volunteers and so. And all the events I attended, all the things which I did for the first time in my life, learning slovak language, all the places I visited in Slovakia and abroad made this year so colorful. But, among all those things and people I mentioned above, there are two I have to highlight the most. I can undoubtedly say that I had a wonderful roommate/coworker/best friend Mylène without who unlikely it would have been so great year as it was! As well my second best friend from Italy who tought me how to take a life in a super positive way! To sum up, they both come to visit me in Latvia in January and I am not done with Slovakia :)
October is about to start and it’s just been few days that I am back at the office after an unforgettable and crazy summer. I loved it so much!
Riding horse in Madara’s camp in Zlatná, I was visiting her for few days, doing some workshops with her participants. I also milked goats, it was sooo perfect!
In Štrbské Pleso, with few participants in the Eastern part of Slovakia, one of the most beautiful place I’ve seen here!
Words will not be enough precise to give you all the good feelings I have experienced but you can still imagine… I’ve been travelling all around Slovakia, discovering cities, castles, nature… getting to know people from all over the world, spending 24 hours a day with them for 2 weeks, coordinating 3 summer camps with both kids and disabled people and doing so many cool things. I had a lot of fun but above all I can say that I learnt a lot about myself. Few months ago - that’s true - I doubted a little bit if I would do the job correctly and in the end I think it just happened naturally. I met so many inspiring people who, without knowing it, taught me a lot and encouraged me.
“We all take different paths in life, but no matter where we go, we take a little of each other everywhere” Tim McGraw
Presenting my country, France, during the “Feast of Cultures” with my co-leader
Now half of my EVS is gone but there are still 2 months and a half to enjoy! So far everything was so great, I have this little heartache when I start to think it will come to an end very soon. Time flies so fast indeed but I guess this is the best feeling ever because it means a lot of amazing things have been happening. Now time to focus on the future and… tomorrow we fly with Madara to Athens for few days, as I said, still a lot to enjoy! :D
OHH my, I just realized that my last post was 5 months ago. It’s definitely time to update my story and experience here in Slovakia. But on the other hand, I can’t remember everything what I’ve done for last 6 months.
It’s already the middle of August and I think it sounds pretty clear that summer is about to finish as well as my workcamps’ season. It has been the busiest summer and my most enriching experience in my entire life indeed.
Briefly, about my camps. I have led 2 completely different workcamps. One was in an eco-farm but the other was archaeological one. The one at the farm was my favourite camp. I was the only leader and I found out that I am more skilled in being a leader than I thought. To lead a bunch of people didn’t take too much effort from me. In general, working at the farm was not a completely new experience. I have spent my childhood at my grandparents’ houses where I learnt how to take care of animals and gardening. The only new experience I gained in the camp was taking care of horses.
Temperature was pretty high during the camp so everyone wanted to swim. For me as a Latvian girl, who used to swim only in the Baltic Sea, I had to experience swimming in a river. I enjoyed Danube’s freshness but the stream was rather disturbing for me. However, I prefer to swim in the sea with waves :) And, yes, of course in Latvia I have never experienced such a hotness like +36C. This is my hottest summer, meanwhile in Latvia it’s one of the coldest (around +20C).
In the second camp we were doing archaeological work at Obišovce castle’s ruins in Eastern Slovakia. This camp was really lovely for its participants and nature but I have to admit that it started to exhaust me a bit. Besides, in this part of Slovakia I experienced the worst trains in my life. Actually, I never would travel by train back home but here in Slovakia it’s supposed to be the best way to travel IF you get a new train with an air conditioner :)
Now I feel like I need to charge my batteries and the best for that is traveling. I am impressed by every place I have visited so far. It doesn’t matter whether it’s marvellous High Tatras, picturesque villages in Slovakia, fascinating Prague or cheap Belgrade; every place has its own charm.
For summing up, I love my life in Slovakia. Workcamps are fantastic place where to make new friends. I advise everyone to go to the workcamp unless you are afraid to be a volunteer. :) If possible I’d certainly lead my camps one more time. I’d like to write something more but I’m currently busy with planning my trip to Rome. ROME here I come! :)
The first three months of my volunteering experience have passed by really fast. Honestly they have only felt like the first three weeks. But you know what they say... time flies when you‘re having fun!
So far we‘ve mostly been preparing for the summer, getting ready for the workcamps, going to trainings, doing things in the city and getting to know the ins and outs of Slovakian nature, geography and culture. Of course we have also been indoctrinating people into the marvellous way of life that is volunteering and the international lifestyle with varying rates of success :)
It’s strange living outside of your home country but it’s also a great experience. I’m having a blast but at the same time everyone in Iceland is more or less depressed, everyone is bored and the weather is terrible. At the time of writing the temperature in Iceland is 1°C and the only thing that Facebook has to say is that everyone just wants to leave for somewhere slightly warmer… like the North-pole. Meanwhile I’m sitting here in 24°C worrying that I might run out of sunscreen.
Anyway, today I’m going on another great road-trip to check out the locations of my workcamps-to-be. This time we’re taking the train… again, and I just have to say that trains are possibly the best mode of transport that humanity has ever come up with. I mean, you don’t have to worry about the driver taking a wrong turn, you’ve got all the space you will ever need and most importantly: You’re not flying through the air at a thousand kilometres per hour; scared out of your mind!
Here’s to another fantastic eight months!
Bjarki Fannar Kolbeinsson
Hello there !
After my roommate Madara, it is time to introduce myself. So, my name is Mylène, I come from France and I am 23 years old. I finished my communication and management studies in October 2014 and now… here I am, in this beautiful city Bratislava 2 months already ! :)
That previous months brought a lot of changes, I was expecting to need some time to get used to it but it did not happen. Since my arrival, everything seems really natural. I started this new life in a very easy way but I guess people who are around me have definitely something to do with that good feeling. Everyone is so nice here: my 2 roommates, the INEX team, my mentor and all the people we meet every day.
Why I became a volunteer at INEX ? Well, the reason is quite simple, during my last year of studies, I had a lot of questions about my future and I could feel that I needed to try something new, to go out of my comfort zone (“where the magic happens”) and to learn something which was not written in a book anymore. And I had always known that I really wanted to live an intercultural experience abroad. I never found the opportunity before and one day a friend of mine just told me about EVS, and I knew it was exactly what I wanted/had to do to fill in the gap :D
People usually ask me why I decided to move in Slovakia. I didn’t really choose that country because I think that every country is worth it but still, I was quite curious to discover this country which was so unfamiliar to me and to live in Bratislava (the capital cityyyy !). Actually I was really interested in the INEX offer and I decided to apply… and I have absolutely no regrets. I am really happy to be here to discover more deeply Slovakia and to get to know this culture better and what it means to be a volunteer. This is exactly why I am here to learn non-formally and to open my mind. So far, it works rather well.
Otherwise, some highlights of the previous months: I tried my first Halušky (I looooved it) and Kofola (and so many delicious and typical chocolate bar), we visited 5 castles (Bratislava castle, Devin Castle, Rusovce castle in Slovakia, Spilberk castle in CR and Hainburg castle in Austria), I discovered wonderful places dedicated to tea (“teahouse”) and to real hot chocolate, we went on a dog shelter, we walked randomly in Bratislava and its city center (best way to immerse yourself), we had our first Slovak lessons and we crossed the borders (one of the huge advantage to live in Bratislava, that geographical position which allows you to discover Hungary, Czech Republic and Austria in only few hours).
I’m Madara, 24 years old girl from Latvia. I graduated master’s programme in optometry last year but didn’t find it enough interesting for me. Instead of spending all days at optics and doing eye check for people with vision problems I chose to discover what life can bring me while I’m still young and full of enthusiasm. About EVS I already heard after finishing high school but that time I probably was not enough brave to leave my country and my environment. So finally I’m here - in Bratislava - doing my EVS already for one month.
Last month has been so colourful. Briefly what I’ve discover already.
* Of course it’s kofola – soft drink with interesting herb taste. This is gonna be one of the first gifts I will bring to my friends after my EVS. Or if they come to visit me I’m going to buy many bottles in advance for them.
* On the every corner they have hot chocolate places here! Need to mention that I’m kind of addicted of chocolate so I feel like in the seventh heaven here - This point also includes chocolate Studenská which is sooo delicious.
* I also tried langos – deep fried flat bread made of a dough. If I understood right this is a Hungarian food speciality but it doesn’t matter because I loved it anyway.
* One things I’m disappointed about is ‘’tvaroh’’, which is not the same thing as in Latvia (‘’biezpiens’’). Tvaroh here is so watery but at least I have a nice colleague who brings home made ‘’biezpiens’’ sometimes.
* We have discovered also some pubs and clubs, but the most interesting thing that during one party I met one Latvian guy who I know quite well. So as everyone already knows this world is so small !
* During last month we have also done some little trips and walks around city, for instance, Devin castle, Rusovce, old town, Slavin, Bratislava castle and dog’s shelter. I don’t wanna go into details but I enjoyed all those places. -
* I have a nice mentor who I know barely but we already found some place where I can do some fitness classes (you know after Slovak sweets ‘’overdose’’ this is must to do thing :D)
Actually, a lot of things have happened that I can’t remember everything but one thing I’m really sure about – I’m at the right place, the right time. I like everything here including our flat, office, colleagues, my roomies and Bratislava as a capital city of Slovakia! AND I so much looking forward for a worcamps’ season which seems is gonna be a great time and amazing expierence in my life.