“I am sending you as sparks, you must return as flames.” Mustafa Kemal Atatürk
This is the last sentence of the letter sent by the founder of the Republic of Turkey to the young people sent to study in Europe. When I came here, I always told myself this, and I saw every opportunity for experience as a way to add a little more fuel to my fire.
Actually, my coming here was not unexpected. It’s funny to think that my favourite fairy tale as a child was the Bremen Town Musicians, but now I see them every day near my workplace. It was always my dream to come to Germany, but I never thought it would be like this. Now I go to work, I live alone, I discover myself, it’s a great opportunity.
One day, while I was in a training, I saw the announcement of this project. I applied to it, which offers a bureaucratic experience as I did as a volunteer in Izmir, the city I came from, saying “I won’t be accepted anyway”. Then the interviews were held and at every step I was saying “I think I will be accepted”, and finally I was accepted, and I came to Bremen in September 2023…
I think I will never forget the first day I went to the office because although I was a volunteer, they gave me a room in the office. My name was written on the door. These are simple things, but I was happy to feel that the place valued me. My work progressed excellently, and my superiors were always unexpectedly pleased because they were not expecting too much to do from a volunteer. I learnt many things, about the experience of living alone, about living in another country and about my work. For example, I wrote a speech of a senior bureaucrat (she is a Senator 😉 ) and the whole process was so educational for me. Actually, in general, learning to live in this city makes me happy and proud sometimes when I think about it. Walking the roads that I know now, learning the trams, knowing the places to go. After a certain point, I thought, “I guess I am from here, now I am a local” and I was happy. In the place where I worked as a volunteer, in general, I always did the work that I liked or thought I had expertise in, but of course, sometimes there is boring paperwork too!
I can say that this experience will change my whole life. I am already aware of this and who knows what will happen in the coming months. First of all, it is a great work experience, and I am sure that the time I spent here will look great on my CV. But I think the most important thing is to learn how to adapt loneliness and get to know yourself here. Also, I think being together with other cultures all the time has a great effect on one’s character, in a good way of course. While I was thinking about how I would get used to it when I came here, now I am thinking about how I will get used to it when I return to Turkey.
I like the volunteering experience here very much and I would like to recommend it. But if you want to be a volunteer here, you might need to be ready for some bureaucracy, politics and an experience that might be a bit more boring among our peers. If you like these subjects like me, there is no problem anyway ^_^
In summary, being here is the biggest opportunity I will ever have in my life. I hope I can be a beneficial as an individual for myself, for Bremen and for my country when I return. Last but not least, if you are a person who likes quiet and calmness and want to escape from metropolises, volunteering in Bremen is great!
Ferhat is hosted by Freie Hansestadt Bremen Senatskanzlei (Free Hanseatic City of Bremen, Senate Chancellery) on our project co-funded by the European Union.