Find yourself

Hi everyone,

I am Natalia, I am 20 years old and I am from a country with a huge heart – Russia, where you can find over 160 nationalities, 9 time zones, the range of warm and cold weather from -70 to +40. Russia has its unbelievably unique and rich culture, breathtaking nature, it is a place where you easily make friends with sincere and soulful people.

Yes, we never open up so quickly and never call “friends” every second person in life – because this word means a lot to us. But once you make a real Russian friend, you will never regret: always helpful, supportive, crazy, understanding.

Originally, I am from Khanty-Mansiysk – a small city on the 7 hills (where mammoth bones were found) in the North of the country, a homeland of ancient peoples – Khanty and Mansi (some of them still live there), the administrative center of the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug with population around 101,466.

The Khanty and Mansi have their own language and unusual traditions. For example, they live in chums, ride deer, eat raw meat, make clothes out of animal skins.

I had moved out of the city when I finished school – at 17 years old. This way I happened to live in Yekaterinburg, a city located in Ural. Initially, I was going to study journalism in Ural Federal University but after 1 year I realized that it is not what I want to do. Why?

In the first term of University I came across AIESEC – an international youth-run, non-governmental and not-for-profit organization that provides young people with cross-cultural internships and global volunteer exchange experiences. The organization gave me an opportunity to organize international projects, meet people from all over the world, start speaking English (before I could only say “Hello, my name is..”), develop, expand the boundaries of the mind. After the experience I know exactly – my life must be connected to international activities, helping and development.

Some of our participants and I

I had been inspired by our participants and decided to be in their place as a volunteer. I have been approved for short-term projects in Germany, Sri Lanka, Romania, Egypt but everything was cancelled due to the virus. Honestly, I felt lost and depressed around the events. I did not know what to do. I also had an idea to study in the USA but my visa has been refused this summer (probably, because I’m young and perceived as a potential migrant). I got depressed even more. I just continued to work (I have been working since I was 13 years old to afford more things) but my mental condition did not allow to enjoy life. The only point saved me is training. I love fitness, crossfit and going to the gym in general because I can not only build a beautiful body but more importantly unleash all the negative feelings and emotions.

The crossfit team and I (the one with closed eyes :)) )

Everything changed when I ran into European Solidarity Corps Programme. I was surprised by the opportunities it gives – communication with locals, diving into a new culture, traveling, developing. I wanted to be a part of it to find myself through helping others. So, I am here as a part of “Empowering regions through volunteering 2”. Will it help? I am sure it will. It is definitely going to turn my life upside down.

Which way? Let’s see together 😉

-Natalia

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