Bok! I am Jana, a 19-year old German-Estonian from Rietberg, Germany. From September 2018 till August 2019 I lived in Zagreb, Croatia, where I took part in the programm known as European Voluntary Service.
The decision to go on EVS was an easy one to make for me. After finishing my „Abitur“ in July 2018, I decided that I would like to take some time to reflect on my future choices and develop my skills and personality further. I really liked the idea of being able to help and contribute to a good cause. Also a must for me was being able to travel and explore.
I worked for 11 months with an local NGO called Udruga Amazonas. I was one of four volunteers in total, and worked in the media team. Udruga Amzonas promotes interculturalism, youth mobility, creativity and healthy lifestyles. They use the Brazilian art of Capoeira as a tool to work with youth and engage those with fewer opportunities.
My responsibilities as part of the media team were to take photos and videos during events as well as other creative duties. I learned how to photoshop and make videos using the proper tools. Other big points were my German language courses in A2 and C1, as well as other workshops and events that I organized and implemented.
10 (11!) things I have learned during my stay…
- Be Brave. – My confidence levels shot through the roof, because I always encountered new challenges that I somehow overcame.
- Jump into cold water.- Try everything you have ever wanted to try, now is the time. For example, I traveled a lot and tried tons of new hobbies.
- Take time to reflect.- This is important, your EVS wont give you anything unless you take time to think about your past, your present and your future. I had many many moments of self-reflection that helped me to decide on my further life path.
- If in doubt, ask. – I will forever be thankful to these really nice and helpful Hungarian old ladies, that helped me in a time of need, despite not understanding a word that I said.
- Make mistakes, take risks.- Now is the time to risk it and fall down but to learn from it.
- You will value your heritage and home more if you travel.- My mixed nationality has always been a difficult topic for me, I have always struggeled with it. I feel that I finally made peace with myself.
- Everyday counts.
- Croatians are a special kind.- I cant thank my Croatian friends enough for showing me their wonderful country from their perspektive. I am thankful that I learned to go more with the flow and enjoy life as it is. I have never met more hospitalable people.
- Make friends.- I would have never visited certain countries and cities, if I wouldnt have met these amazing people and stayed in contact.
- Live your dream.- You have one life, live it the way you want to and if you dont know what you want to do, do what you currently at the moment want to do.
I would recommend the EVS experience for anybody who wants to help a social cause and learn about another culture long term. You would have to be open for new experiences and its also helpful if you are not completly unexperienced when it comes to living in different cultural surroundings. A long term EVS can give you a lot and I am very happy with my decision, but its not for everybody. A short term EVS might be better if you struggle with being away from home for long. Be sure that you will be okay with all your duties and surroundings and are flexible.