10/2018 – 03/2019
East-West United Europe
EVS TEAM AT EFM
In Germany it is quite common for people to take a gap year right after stepping out of school for the last time. It is often the alternative to going from one learning institution (school) to the next (university). In my friend circle I have only one friend who went to university right after school and only three or four that decided to take their gap year in Germany. Everyone else went abroad, to New Zealand, Australia, Japan, Tanzania and in my case: Poland.
Only when I came here, I realized that this isn’t the norm in other countries and that many of the volunteers I would meet will be over twenty.
So now I am writing this, to encourage anyone who is reading it, to not wait till after studying and to use the opportunity that is presented to you after school and to go abroad.
Why go abroad?
Leaving your home can be scary. It is the place where you should feel most comfortable after all and where you can give so many of your responsibilities to your parents. This is exactly why you should leave for a while.
After I finished school, I was a more or less confident 18-year old who was very scared of any responsibility, with only a weak idea of who I was and no idea of what I wanted to do with my life. Going abroad and leaving my safe nest, gave me the opportunity to get to know myself outside of my comfort zone. How do I react in new situations? What do I do if I have a problem and there is nobody to solve it for me (aka Mom)? Can I take care of myself and cook, wash my clothes and the usual stuff that I never really worried about?
For the first time in my life, I had to do things myself, without my safety net and it helped me develop and grow as a person and took away the fear of taking responsibility for myself. This has been such an important step in my personal development, that I can’t imagine not having done it or only doing it later in life.
SO: GO ABROAD AND DO IT AS FAST AS POSSIBLE.
Why an evs?
With an EVS you come to a project, so you have certain activities. In my case I had my EVS in the office of EFM and I participated in many different activities and projects, like Youth Exchanges, YouthMaSter and international trainings. This not only gave me an insight on how to write and do such projects, it also gave me so many useful tools that I can use later in life, like new programs that I can use or new techniques for example for time management. I also was able to improve my English and my presentation skills, which will come in useful later in life.
Another thing it did was that it gave me inspiration of possibilities to go abroad after my project, as well as the courage to do so. Before I thought about whether I wanted to study in Hamburg or Berlin, now I am considering cities in England, USA or maybe even Argentina. Still, most importantly, being part of a project like this and standing up for yourself and what you believe in in activities like debates and street campaigns is an amazing feeling.
Still, most importantly, being part of a project like this and standing up for yourself and what you believe in in activities like debates and street campaigns is an amazing feeling.
I was never a very politically active person. I mean, I knew some things and sometimes I went to a demonstration, but this project helped me realize that you can actually achieve something if you actively try and I am ready to make a difference in the world.
Being an EVS volunteers means meeting a lot of awesome people.
People you work with, other volunteers and of course people in your hosting country, in my case Poland.
And you don’t just meet these people, you really get to know them. I can now proudly say, that I have friends in Spain, Portugal, Italy, France, Georgia, Armenia, Malta, Argentina, Uruguay, Poland and I am not even close to finish.
Along with these people, you get to know their country and their culture and this is just something that school and university can’t teach you, except maybe if you take a year in a different country.
LANGUAGES AND LANGUAGE BARRIERS:
In my EVS, I learned a little bit of Polish (not much though, this language is so difficult!!!) and I improved my English, as well as experienced how it is to speak English as a first language.
This is all good, but another experience that I haven’t thought about as much before, was how to deal with a language barrier.
Of course it brings challenges, but challenges are there to be overcome and realizing that you can form relationships with people who don’t or barely speak the same language that you do, opens the world for you.
…all I can say is, go abroad, do an EVS and do it as fast as it is possible for you.
For me it was an amazing experience that gave me so much in form of personal skills, confidence, independence, cultural awareness and of course friends from so many different countries.
I can’t imagine what the 18-year old German girl would have done with her life, if she would have decided to stay at home for her gap year and I don’t want to find out, but chances are that I would always dream about seeing other places and never actually take the leap and travel.
Now after only half a year, I developed more than I could have in a year if I stayed at home and I am glad that I am now able to take the next step in my life, whatever it will be, with a new self-confidence that I never used to have.
- Lotta Melcher
- Sofía Rodríguez
- Mari Carmen Pelayo
- Daniel Beider
READ THEIR ARTICLES
(Mari Carmen Article to be published soon)