Kakšna so pričakovanja in zgodbe, ki jih slišimo o EVS prostovoljstvu in kakšna je potem realnost? Kakšni so občutki ob učenju tujega jezika, ki je popolnoma drugačen od tvojega maternega jezika? Svoje misli o EVS pričakovanjih in realnosti je delila naša EVS prostovoljka Liisi.
Having been active in the field of youth work before my EVS, I heard many stories and myths about doing EVS and living abroad in general. Because of that, I had a picture in my head of what my experience is going to look like. But reality, of course, is usually a bit different.
Firstly, I heard about a theory of adjusting to a different culture. It states that when moving to another country, you will first experience the vacation phase when everything seems interesting and fun. After that you feel the routine settling in and become less motivated. The differences between your own culture and the culture you are living in start to annoy you and make you homesick. After that comes acceptance, when you feel at home in your new culture. Since it seems fairly logical, that’s how I expected my EVS to go. Maybe it is because Estonia and Slovenia (the culture and people) don’t seem so different, that I didn’t really experience these phrases or feelings. In the beginning I experienced this short period, when I decided to say yes to everything and try to get as many good stories and great adventures as possible, but that passed quickly and after that it hasn’t been much different from living in my own country.
The second and pretty obvious thing is homesickness. I guess everybody experiences it differently and to a different extent. That was probably the main thing that I was worried about, before coming here. I didn’t imagine being so far away from my home, my friends and family for such a long time. But with all the modern technology and opportunities, I have this new-found feeling of how small Europe and even the world is. Communicating with my friends and family daily through social media platforms, Skype and phone calls, has given me a false impression as if they were living right here in a nearby village. During my EVS I have attended birthday parties via Skype, watched live streams of graduation ceremonies and even played board games with my friends through video calls. Although I always prefer face-to-face communication, the Internet gives a nice alternative that makes me a part of my life back in Estonia, even if I am not physically present.
Something that people living abroad have very varied experiences with is learning the language spoken in the country you are living in. I am sad to admit, that I am not one of those talented people, who learns the new language in just a few months. I guess I can blame the fact that Slovenian is really different from Estonian and also not the easiest language, but nevertheless it definitely isn’t an easy task, especially when you are not a child anymore. I am not used to the feeling of not being able to read or pronounce things and I seem to have forgotten how to remember all the words, rules and structures of a language. Fortunately, I have been lucky enough to do most of my tasks in English, which, as grateful as I am, still gave me the excuse not to learn Slovenian so quickly.
I think that the point to take from all of this is that theories, stories and expectations are often not transferrable to real life. No two experiences are the same and the best thing to do in order to know what is true for you, is to experience it for yourself and through that, make your own theories and stories and probably introduce them to others as rules.