It’s always strange to put your experience in a short paragraph or a sentence. I can say “it was great”, but it captures nothing. I’d like to talk about it for hours, but not many would want to listen. I might want to keep some parts for myself, though they might be the most interesting.
After wanting to do EVS for a few years one late summer on 2015 I decided it was now or never. I was already 25, you know. I checked each project that suited my interests and… Slovenia it is! You know the drill – create a CV, write a motivation, hate your motivation, fix it, hate it more, fix again, start to like it, time is running out so you cross your fingers (knock on wood?) and send it. And then wait.
After 3 Skype conversations, 2 months or waiting and the good news I started packing. Oh boy did it all happen so quickly! Next thing I know I’m in rainy winter Ljubljana being picked up by my coordinator and two future flatmates. I had no idea how fast my 8 months will go.
I was working with children in a daily care centre DC OM in Škofja Loka. If you have worked with children before you will understand the challenges that come with it. Especially when they speak Slovene and all I can say is “A lahko dobim originalni račun na firmo?“. Ha! But soon they got used to me and my attempts at Slovene became a little better. I met some amazing children who were fearless and unapologetic for small mistakes, who were doing their best to help me understand them and make ME have a good time with THEM. Wasn’t it supposed to be vice-versa?
It would be a load of nostalgia if I do not say that there were some mental and physical challenges, of course. There were hills and mountains and I was never a hiker because Lithuania is not known as a hiking destination. But I made, after huffing and puffing I hiked up my first hill. And after going on a 4-day walking/hiking camp with children 24/7 I can now mark this challenge as overcome.
Living most of life in a one part of Europe might make one ignorant of realities of other parts. I’m not ashamed to say that Yugoslavia was something I briefly read about in history books. It’s been an eye opener to visit this region, to hear people talk about their history and present, about the victories and burdens of the Balkans. Especially people who witnessed a lot firsthand. It brought so much into perspective and I can honestly say, as cliché as it sounds, that it broadened my horizons.
So, a charming old town of Škofja Loka, my weird and fun flatmates, colleagues, neighbours, other volunteers and a slow, grounded pace of life of the locals surely linger with me. And even though my EVS did not cause an epiphany of “finding myself” – it was a one in a lifetime experience that did make a real impact. I’m forever grateful to my Slovenian coordinator, my patient colleagues, the kids and my new friends. And of course, the EU for giving such opportunities.