5 tips for EVS
Found the perfect project and can't wait to start your awesome year abroad? Keep these realities in mind and you might just get what you wish for!
1. Sending organisation
By learning from experience I would strongly recommend doing your EVS by finding a helpful sending organisation. They will be the people responsible of you, helping you, listening to your troubles and communicating with your receiving organisation. EVS project can last up to a year and believe me – with such a long time you need an organisation that has your back and supports you when everything doesn't go as you thought, and it sometimes won't.
2. Receiving organisation
Only participate in an EVS-project by an organisation that your sending organisation has previously worked with, an organisation that they know have experience of volunteers. Even if the project description sounds perfect and they promise you the moon from the sky, this is an opportunity that you only get once in your life, don't waste it with an organisation that doesn't work.
3. Speaking up
Everything isn't like you thought it would be? Speak up! Receiving organisation should provide a mentor for you that will listen your troubles and worries from feeling homesick to contract violations and everything in between. The mentor is supposed to be a person outside your receiving organisation so it should be comfortable to even talk about problems with the receiving organisation. Also your sending organisation should listen to your troubles and help you. If you can't do these and/or speaking with receiving organisation, you can contact the national agency of either one or both sending and receiving country. The whole point of EVS is to get you a great experience, learn from other cultures, meet people, travel and see the world. You should be able to gain something and give something to the project. Know your rights and speak up!
4. Clash of the cultures
Even if you are traveling inside Europe, the countries differ quite a lot. We are so accustomed to the conditions and habits of our own countries that some things you didn't even thought about might drive you crazy. Something goes without saying in your home country? May not be the case in the country you are volunteering. If nothing else helps, try thinking that at least you will appreciate these things more when you go home.
5. Positive thinking
Everything is like hell? You will learn from it and grow as a person! You never know what kind of experiences you might find useful in the future. At least it's better to go out there to the world and take a risk than just staying at home and playing it safe. There is always a silver lining, sometimes you just have to look a bit harder. And if nothing helps, it's always possible to terminate you volunteering prematurely.
The EVS-experience of course is different with everybody, but these are the things I wished somebody would have told me when I was starting my project.
Author: Vilma Mölsä, EVS volunteer, Youth association Alfa Albona