Between “Danke” and “Bitte schön”
My name is Andrea, I’m Italian and I’m 26. I’m writing this in the middle of my EVS experience, after 6 months. 6 months in the north of Germany, Bremen, away from everything I knew before. First thing I found out since I’m here: people are not used to Andrea-guys, so let me specify this: I’m a guy!
I work for Naturkultur e.V., an NGO which organizes international projects for young people in Europe. Till now my job as a volunteer has been mostly about working in the open (and it felt so good!): cutting trees, taking care of weed/flowers/plants, making raised garden beds, birdhouses (and one letterbox), all from scrap wood; but, since winter started, it has been also about setting up a poetry-reading group and cooperating with colleagues on a sustainability map, brainstorming sessions, online workshops, weekly team meetings, … and a lot of other things (for example: I’m currently organizing my first workshop on Zoom – How to make a Notebook from Scrap Paper).
What did I do before all this? I studied at the University. What did I study? Literature. After taking my Bachelor Degree I was sick of it: it seemed that my all existence had been dedicated to fruitless studies. Therefore I started looking for experiences abroad, something which would allow me to expand my horizons living in a new environment and to do something different from studying never-ending theoretical notions. Another important reason why I left everything for 10 months (basically one entire year) was that I really needed a break from Italy and from the little dull city I’ve always lived in.
When I started applying for EVS projects II was deeply concerned about my age, because this is something that you usually do when you’re younger.
I still am. But I also know how much I’ll miss the city and the people I’ve met, the bike-rides, the parks, the lakes, and even the unbearably complicated German language (forgive me Irma! :-))
The most difficult part of my experience till now was definitely to take responsibility for myself in every single aspect: how to deal with money, cooking, working, learning a new language, understand different cultures… basically, how to fasten my grip on my own well-being. Now I realize that all of this is nothing but a constant work-in-progress, full of mistakes. And it’s been anyway the best part.
After six months my feelings are still all mixed up, but if I had to express them I would say: I feel lucky. To be here, to have had the opportunity to see something more of the world. And – I really must insist about this – especially to have had the opportunity to meet wonderful people, first and foremost my flat mates and the rest of the volunteering community: everyone from a different country, everyone a completely different person who gave (and still gives) me insights about the world out there, making me find out a lot of differences and sometimes, unexpectedly, similarities as well.
And this is really strange, but I’ve never felt more Italian than I feel now, between Danke and Bitte Schön. For better or for worse.
Andrea is hosted on the project “Make a change, be the change!”, coordinated by Bangherang Associazione di Promozione Sociale, financed by the European Solidarity Corps and Agenzia Nazionale per i Giovani.