Elena was an EVS volunteer in the Netherlands
Hello, my name is Elena and I am 24 years old. I come from Greece and I have studied International and European relations in the University of Piraeus. I had done my internship in the Greek Parliament but I couldn’t find a job, so I decided to spend my time in a useful way by doing EVS in a European country for one year.
Free time for disabled people
I lived in Holland for one year and I was working in an organization that hosts disabled people. My main task was to make them spend their free time in the best possible way. So we were cooking, watching movies, playing games, making excursions and exchanging information about our cultures.
I decided to go abroad because I didn’t have a job and I wanted to spend my time in a useful way. I could be a volunteer in my country, but I also love travelling and EVS was a great opportunity for me to combine both volunteering and travelling.
I always wanted to visit Holland and I was always thinking of continuing my studies by having a master there. So, when I found out that there was an EVS program in Holland I applied immediately. It was a unique opportunity for me to learn more about Dutch culture, to assimilate and to learn the language by doing at the same time what I love.
Picturesque, free and organised
Holland was almost as I expected it to be, with nice picturesque sceneries, sense of freedom and very organised. But I didn’t expect that my work would be so awesome. I never expected that I could have such a nice connection with the patients and feel so important and necessary for them. Every single day was a pleasure for me at work.
As many places as possible
In my free time I was visiting different cities of Holland trying to be in as many places as I could, as I had totally free transportation provided by my host organization.
Crazy Dutch weather and agendas
The obstacles I had to encounter were the crazy Dutch weather and the bikes that I am not a big fan of. I had never driven a bike before in my life, but I learned to and I simply… never used it again. The main problem that I never expected to have was to make friends. Dutch people are really closed off, even though they live in a multicultural country. You have to be patient and give them time to accept you as their friend and when you finally are, you will not be able to visit them or going out with them unless they have put you in their agenda. Things are not as spontaneous as in southern countries.
Survive in a different way
Living abroad for a year is a unique experience. Even though I used to live alone in Greece, I learned how to survive in a foreign country and organise my daily life in a different way. I learned how nice, but also difficult it sometimes is to have roommates and how important time management is.
A word of advice
I would advise everyone to make this big step and go abroad even if it is just for a year, even if you decide to go back to your home after your program, you will always have something nice to remember and for sure you will earn more than you can think of. I never thought of it very much, I took my decision spontaneously, I didn’t even inform my family in the beginning and I haven’t regretted it. The idea of doing something you love helps you going through the difficult situations you might confront.