How 9 months have flown as one day? What have they brought to me? Have my expectations come true? Let’s dive into my ESC volunteering experience!
As I was a manager of international volunteering projects in Russia, I was always eager to try the other side of the coin – as a volunteer. And I got this chance thanks to the European Solidarity Corps Programme and FRSP – the local foundation of development of entrepreneurial society in Wola, Poland.
I had a bit of doubts about living in a village but since I was kind of desperate to participate, I decided to accept this challenge and have no regrets. I loved this quiet, measured life next door to farms, fields. There are not many places to spend your money in the village, so it’s pretty helpful for a volunteer with a tight budget. The only real problem I would emphasize is transportation: buses from and to Wola have a limited schedule.
What about my expectations?
- Getting to know a new culture, experience of living in another country;
- Communication with the local community via voluntary activities;
- Getting friends with different cultural backgrounds;
- Interesting diverse tasks with no boring routine;
What was the reality like?
- I have had the opportunity to get to know the Polish culture by traveling around the country and talking to citizens. The experience of living in another country has shown differences and similarities in mentalities, attitudes, languages, laws, rules, which was quite instructive, useful, sometimes exciting, sometimes disappointing but still good;
- Mostly it has been happening thought linguistic classes and other but rare tasks. I wish I had more time spent with the local community via the voluntary activities;
- Thanks to the project and traveling during it, I have met people from different countries (other volunteers, my students, just strangers on the street, etc) who have brought some vivid moments to my life and who are now a part of my life;
- Some of the tasks were indeed interesting (teaching, presenting, analyzing) but unfortunately, I have encountered with boring office routine. Actually, I anticipated it since almost all of the office jobs include this part, but it still wasn’t easy to not feel sometimes like I waste my time by copy-pasting for several hours in a row or looking at the screen of my laptop for the whole day. I wish I had more tasks related to communication, moving, being active.
- As volunteers, we had 2 extra days off per month, weekends, days off during national holidays which allowed me to travel not only in Poland but around the European Union. I have been surprised by how simple and available it is to travel in Europe. Tickets are mostly cheap and it is not a big deal to find a cheap hostel and enjoy staying;
- Whenever I had problems: mental ones (about the war, worries about my family, etc), physical ones, I would always get support and help from my coordinator Natalia Germanek and mentor Tomek.
I am extremely grateful to this project, Poland and people surrounding me here for making these months such eventful and unforgettable time in my life.