María wanted to go abroad and she followed her dream
- WHAT WERE YOU DOING BEFORE YOUR EVS
I always wanted to go abroad but in Greece it is very hard to take a gap year between high school and university so I didn’t do it at that time. During my university degree I also thought about going on an Erasmus but something went wrong and I said to myself that after graduation I had to go abroad.
The chance of going somewhere came last summer. I was supposed to have my final exams for my bachelors in September but they shut down the university. There was a strike of administrative employees at my university because the government wanted to cut 1000 jobs so they stopped working for a week and a half and all students missed our exams. In fact, I still have to take them; I haven’t been able to graduate yet from English Literature and linguistics. I know that they are scheduled for this year so I’m hoping I can take them in February.
- HOW DID YOU LEARN OR FIND OUT ABOUT EVS?
For the last year of university, I moved from Athens, where I was studying, to my hometown Kalamata. I was missing my life in capital a little bit so I talked to my friends and we agreed that we were going to try to integrate in the town again and keep ourselves busy with activities. There’s a Youth Centre in Kalamata that I joined to do contemporary dance and through it I got to know about EVS because I met many international volunteers living in Greece. So then, a few months later, I applied for a project in August and September.
- WAS ICELAND YOUR FIRST CHOICE FROM THE BEGINNING?
Yes, it was. I met an Icelandic volunteer in Kalamata and he always told me great things about Iceland. In fact, I never thought about leaving to a country like Italy or Spain because they are similar to my country. I wanted to experience something completely different. I first applied for the kindergartens but I was told that there was a free spot for an EVS in Vin so I read through the project, I liked it and I said yes to it
- WHAT IS YOUR PROJECT ABOUT?
It’s a house that offers activities for people with mental disabilities and the Red Cross runs it. We are a meeting point for them. Among the activities that we offer, we have gardening in the summer, language courses, chess, reading sessions, chinkon…
- HOW DOES YOUR DAILY ROUTINE LOOK LIKE?
I start working at 9, until 15:30 or 16, from Monday through Friday. There are some daily tasks that I always do such as helping preparing lunch or cook for the visitors and I also help to clean after that. In the afternoon is when I join the activities that I have mentioned. Now in the summer, for example, every Friday we had barbeque and if the weather was good, we were going on a trip around the city, somewhere.
- WHAT SUPRISES YOU THE MOST ABOUT ICELAND?
Iceland is extreme, is black or white. Its light in summer and dark in winter, its people are the happiest in the summer and very sad in the winter, one can see it in their faces. The weather, the conditions, the people… it’s radical.
- WHAT HAVE YOU DISCOVERED ABOUT YOURSELF DURING THESE 9 MONTHS?
Yes, something very important, which I’m very happy of. I’ve learned that if you want to succeed in something, if you want to improve something, if you really want something, you get it, you achieve it. The idea of following your dreams. For example, in my case, the language, because I have managed to learn Icelandic. But also, the fact that I always wanted to go abroad and finally achieved it, as well as managing to start my life all over, having new friends, having a new life in a completely different country… I’m so so proud of that.
- WHAT DID YOU LEARN FROM YOUR PROJECT
That it is very important in which way you see the same situation. For instance, if you take someone with mental disabilities, they have an illness which is supposed to create for them many problems, however, you can see how some people deal with these issues. Then you understand that if you really want to cope with a bad situation, your attitude makes everything and you’ll manage to overcome. It’s very inspiring.
Some people might think that my project is not giving anything because I work in an office or I help with the lunch. It’s not giving a diploma, it definitely not helping me to improve my English, which is what I study but it gives me something much more meaningful.
- IS YOUR PROJECT GOING TO CHANGE YOUR PLANS OR YOUR PATH SOMEHOW?
Yes, in a way, because after these months I’ve been thinking that I want to combine my English studies with something related to cultures, multiculturalism, languages or tourism. I realized about this when I found myself in Iceland sharing a lot with people from different cultures and enjoying speaking in English or other languages.