The workcamp season is now over and again it is time to get used to normal work routines back in the office. After travelling all summer it can feel a bit sad or difficult, but also I’m waiting for this less hectic part of EVS. There is still around three months left for me here in Slovakia and even when long workcamps are over for this year, INEX will still have many other events during the autumn. And of course I still have lots of things I want to do and places to visit before my year will be over, so for sure this autumn won’t be boring for me.
Summer was just great, I met so many new people from all over to world, travelled around Slovakia and got memories I will never forget. I led two workcamps; Presporkovo where we organized activities for children and Cabrad where we were renovating a castle. I also visited four camps as INEX Messenger, which means I visited camp for 2-4 days, worked and enjoyed free time with them and organized two workshops for them. One workshop I made completely myself and it was about talent and personal development. The other, where volunteers thought about things they have learned during the camp, was a part of INEX’s campaign volunteering footprint.
Camps I led were really different ones in nearly every aspect. Renovation work at Cabrad was more physical, but Presporkovo’s social work children more mentally demanding. At Presporkovo we also had more responsibilities and schedules were stricter. At Cabrad nobody really checked our working hours as long as we did some work. Also taking breaks was easy whenever we felt tired, but with children we simply had to be present all the time we were with them. At the same time I enjoyed working with kids and work felt rewarding and important. Seeing happy children made the hard work feel worth it.
When Presporkovo’s hardest (but also the most rewarding and really special) part was work, in Cabrad those were living conditions. Cabrad was far away from all civilization, even the nearest little village was too far for walking. The difference was big compered to Presporkovo, where we lived in Bratislava with so many possible free time activities. Also Cabrad didn’t have running water and we needed to walk around ten minutes just to get to our shower, which was actually only an artificial spring, so no hope of warm water. To me that wasn’t a problem at all, quite opposite actually, because I’m used to spend lots of time on my summer cottage without running water or hiking in Lapland with even fewer facilities. I kind of enjoy hard living conditions like that, but as a leader I needed to think also about volunteers, because for some of them it was harder. Luckily we had a great group, so it was completely okey..
As messenger I got a lot of new confidence for travelling alone and of course many funny memories. For example at Stone tower workcamp, where was no electrocity, I had to do my workshop with light of flashlight because it had already gotten dark. Still the experience was great because group was really active and taking part to the conversation, even more than in previous camps. At Banska Stiavnica I helped them to organize feast of cultures, which was also great. As less funny but more teaching and interested memory on my way to Black castle I lost my passport. With the help of leaders of the camp it was found in one day and I just needed to go to police station to get it back, so it was okey in the end, but I really got scared that I had lost it completely. In the end it was just one more experience. If I have learned something from this great summer, it is that you can get over the most of difficulties, so there’s no need to worry so much.
Have you ever acknowledged that you are lucky? I do… always…. even when nothing is going according to plan, when everything seems to be failed. I know I will come to the right place at the right time. That’s my life path. Has always been and will be)))
3 years ago accidentally I appeared in Slovakia and felt in love with Bratislava. Yes, with the city that seemed absolutely grey to me when I first arrived here. Love is strange, isn’t it ? ;) And again, when I was tired of my never ending classes, when I needed some fresh air to my daily life, wind of change, new adventures, the magic worked out! On 1st of June I started my European Voluntary Service at INEX Slovakia. Oh, wait, already 3 months? Time runs so fast, especially when you are enjoying what you do. The start of my program was very fast and dynamic. From my very first day at INEX I went for a school presentation with our team, 2 days later demo camp, then participation in a workcamp, again presentations, some preparations aaaaand I’m there, ready to lead my first international workcamps. First 2 ones were archeological. For a city girl, who has been in countryside only for relaxing weekends, this was challenging. Castles, forests, hiking, climbing, searching for pottery, medieval coins, a scream of happiness when after 5 hours under midsummer sun you finally notice the sparkle of the coin, a smell history… Everything was so exciting. Once you start doing these, you will be just obsessed.
Our workcamp at Salt Castle. No matter hot, cold, rain or wind, always happy and ready for adventures.
Another camp in Eastern Slovakia in wonderful village Vinne. Helping to renovate medieval Senderov church.
My 3rd camp was social working with disabled people, which I was leading together with my lovely co-EVS friend Sophie (already miss her). This camp was different, it’s dynamic was different. During 2 weeks, every day there was a feeling that we are doing something very important: we bring a little joy to peoples’ day. I enjoyed every single minute working with them, I learned a lot from them.
Or social workcamp in OZ Barlicka in Presov. During 2 weeks we felt like super stars. Everyone wanted to have a picture with volunteers. I think we were trying to work out Hollywood smiles already ))))
And today is the last day of summer.
This summer was really great. Full of new people, things that I have never done before. I opened a new Slovakia for me: so colorful, with wonderful nature and nice people. And yes, how lucky I am to meet INEX at the right time :)
Dear everyone who will read this post : )
Today is my last Slovak day … What an experience and so many things to say!
First maybe you are curious about the reason why my EVS is finishing a little bit earlier. I actually had a job offer. This kind of thing you cannot really refuse. So now a chapter of my life is finishing and a new one will start.
I had a great time here and I want to say thank you to everyone who made it perfect: all my INEX colleagues, my awesome co-EVS Veera and Ani, my mentor Jakub, my two workcamp teams, all the EVS I met in Bratislava and everywhere in Slovakia and all my Slovak friends who made me discover their beautiful country.
I experienced so many different things within these 7 months: new food, new languages, new way of life, a lot of short and longest trips. Central Europe is definitely THE place to be! And if you come in this region, don’t forget to come to Slovakia ! A little big country full of beautiful landscapes and surprises. If I have only one advice: go to Slovak paradise, my favourite place here :D.
Beside the traveling part, I also learnt a lot about workcamps, promotion of volunteering, leadership technics and so many other things! An EVS is the best time to gain a lot of practical skills while having lot of fun and discovering unexpected things about yourself.
The thing I preferred the most here was the summer. Indeed, I was lucky enough to lead two very different workcamps. The first one, Eco-Slatinka, was in an eco-house with no running water and no fridge. It was really interesting and I had a great team of international volunteers, very motivated by being there. We lived all together for two weeks, completely cut from the rest of the world. A super feeling : )
My second camp was in Barlicka, a center for disabled people. It was really different but as great as the first one : ). We had to organize a daily program of activities for the people of the center. It was very rewarding to see the smiles on their face. My team was really active and full of ideas!
Again: a perfect summer.
But now it’s time to say goodbye. Or no, not goodbye. I actually rarely say goodbye but more “see you one day”. The world is becoming so small that for sure I will see again many of the people I met here : )
Well, now really, it’s time to go! I still have quite many things to pack. And it’s not easy to fit 7 months of great experience in a suitcase …
Ahoj everyone :),
It’s almost the half of my EVS! Again time is weird. You think about the future and it’s already the past ^^. But well, enough of philosophy for today! If time flies, it means that the experience is great : )
Soooo my EVS is going really good! The season is starting and I will have no time until the end of August! I will be leader of two camps, messengers in a few others. I will have my mid-term training in a week and I will also go everywhere in Slovakia during the two next months. I’m also thinking about a week in Serbia. I need to be busy all the time to be happy and for sure I will be happier than ever during this summer. : )
Figure 1: Weekend workcamp in Zlatna na Ostrove
In the past two months, I enjoyed time as much as I could. I went to Russia, I was leader of a weekend workcamp, I traveled with friends in the Eastern Slovakia. With INEX, we went to the Democamp for leaders and to several presentations in school. So you see, it’s a busy time! I also start to enjoy the summer in Bratislava. Now everyone is outside, drinking coffee or kofola on the terraces which are everywhere in the city center. The atmosphere is perfect. The weather as well!
Figure 2: Presentation in the school in Trnava
I also went back home for a week and I realized how lucky I am to do my EVS here. Life in Bratislava is just very simple. We live 5 minutes walk from the office, we can travel easily everywhere, we meet people with the same kind of spirit as ours, I have no stress at all. Bref, everything is easy and I appreciate it!
The only downside is that some of my EVS friends are already leaving … Tonight I have the goodbye party of one of my very good Spanish friend! But well, Europe is not so big so I will see her again for sure!
Annnnd, I have a new lovely roommate: Ani from Armenia! It’s the first time I share my room and I really like it! Especially the midnight conversations which are always the best :p.
So, so far, so good!
I will write after the summer to tell you all about my camps.
Wish you all very nice summer holidays !!
Here I am, a 19-years-old Finnish girl working as an EVS-volunteer in Slovakia. It’s a situation I’m extremely happy about even though it’s not something I would have guessed a few years ago.
The idea of doing EVS started, because I was going to graduate from high school in December, half a year later than the most of students, and because of that I was going to face many months without anything to do before the entrance exams of university. I wanted to find something meaningful to do on my gap year and that’s when I started to think about EVS. I had always liked the idea of volunteering and I already knew about EVS but I had never really thought about it so seriously. I also had been on a workcamp earlier and really liked it, so that also made me more interested about going abroad for longer time as a volunteer. More I thought about it, more I liked it and when I realized this was what I wanted to do, a few moths just felt so short time so I ended up applying for 11 month project.
And so my one gap year turned into two years and even the time I was going to spend home without studies or anything got one month longer. But honestly I’m just happy about it. I didn’t and still don’t know what I would like to study or do with my future so I was more than happy to “escape the country” to avoid deciding the direction of my studies. Maybe this year will help me to do the decision, or maybe it will be just as difficult then, but at least I will for sure know myself a bit better after this year, and probably make better decision.
But now I’m not going to worry about my future for a while, I’ll just try to enjoy to moment and see, what this year has to give me.
I’m Sophie, another French ! I finished my studies in political sciences last June but I didn’t feel ready to find a real job yet. I actually needed one more year of “free life”. Depressing you would think? Nooo it’s not: ). To me, there is a moment for everything and I will be happy to have a comfy peaceful life when I come home (which definitely doesn’t mean a boring one :p). But a few months ago, it was not the right time for it.
Actually, this is not my first long term experience abroad. Three years and half ago (gosh time flies …), I was about to fly for the best time of my life: I went in Japan as an exchange student. It was as amazing as it sounds and so different from all the experiences I’ve had until then that I could not have felt anything else but this impression of living in a bubble for one year.
When I came back, I knew one thing: I’ll go again. But not so far, not so different.I loved it there but now I wanted to try a “same but different” country, if you know what I mean.
So you start to understand why I chose to come here. It’s actually one of the first question people ask me, either at home or here. The second part of the answer arrived during the summer 2015. I went for a workcamp in Wales. Two weeks being completely cut from the rest of the world, sleeping in tent, almost no signal. Perfect! There, I met a Spanish girl, EVS in UNA Exchange. We talked for 30 minutes and after that my decision was made: I’ll go for an EVS and not a random one. I’ll go for an EVS in an organization which creates workcampsand which promotes volunteering.
Figure 1: Dinner with the INEX promo team :)
So tadam ! Now I’m here for already three months. If you really want something, just go for it and it happens : )
Figure 2: One day volunteering activity
So far I like it. It was a bit difficult at the beginning but it’s always the same when you move to a new place, not knowing anyone. Now, it’s becoming really good! I met so many people. The EVS community is like a big family when everyone knows more or less everyone. And Bratislava is a really nice city. Small enough to be able to walk everywhere and to know every corner, in a word: to feel at home. Big enough to always have something to do or a place to go.Aaannnnd, it’s so well situated! In three months, I’ve already been about 5 times in Vienna, once in Cracow and once in Budapest, Russia and Czech republic coming soon. An EVS year is definitely the best time to travel and to enjoy every single moment of free time, to have fun and to meet people! At least, it’s what I’ve decided it will be for me : )
Figure 3: Traveling in Budapest !