Ima li života nakon EVS-a?

When I decided to start this new adventure as an EVS volunteer, I was going through a very confused stage of my life. I had just finished university and I had no idea about what I wanted to do, who I wanted to be. I was desperately looking for a job, but everything I found did not really suit my personality and ideals. It was frustrating. One might say that I was being picky and demanding, but the truth is that I wanted to do something special and different.

I still remember the day I randomly ended up on the website of the European Voluntary Service. I immediately subscribed and looked for projects in Croatia. That is how I found out about Petrinja and about IKS. That is how I ended up deciding to spend an entire year of my life in Croatia, a country I had never visited before, away from the people I love and my adorable cat.

I arrived here on the 5th January, and today is the 5thSeptember. Exactly 8 months ago today my life changed drastically. Only 4 months left and the questions I was asking myself before starting EVS are coming back, stronger than the first time. What am I going to do now? Where am I going to go? Am I still the same person I was before? Where do I belong? Some questions are definitely harder than others. Ouch.

When I arrived in Croatia I felt overwhelmed. I am not going to lie, it was hard to adjust to a new reality, to a different community surrounded by people I did not know at all. From the first night I jumped into a reality that was not my own, where people already knew each other and I was the newcomer. However, soon I learnt that those feelings of non-belonging and unfamiliarity were just in my head. Slowly, I started to adjust and those people who were just strangers to me, became my new family. A big, multicultural family.

I have met so many people since I came here: other volunteers from all over Europe, local volunteers, people working in IKS, local people, random people travelling around the world. People, friends, I had to say goodbye to too soon. Every one of them changed me a little bit and, maybe, I had an small impact on their life as well, somehow. Therefore I guess I am not the same person I was before. How could I be? This place, this experience have changed me in ways I will never forget. I have learnt – and I am still learning – so much about the world, about other cultures, but mostly about myself. As one of my EVS best friends, Sofia, would say“life is a learning process”, isn’t it?

Sometimes I wonder if this new person I have become would be able to fit back again in Italy, in my hometown. People say that culture shock hits you hard two times: when you arrive in a new place, and when you go back to your own. Truth is, I am not scared of going back. No matter who I become, my hometown is always going to be the place I grew up in. It is my home and nothing can change that. Of course I might have problems stopping myself from saying bok! to people I run into in the streets, but that would just be funny.

Nevertheless, thinking about the future is scarier than ever before. I am more confused than ever before. I feel like I am about to go back to the starting point, exactly where I was almost one year ago, before finding out about EVS. But it is fine, I know I can work it out. I do not know where I am going from here, but I am going at it fiercely.

I will close this long – and hopefully not depressing – reflection on my experience with one of my favourite songs from Wilco. To all the people that have been part of this, for those who still are, you are my face.

Celeste Romano, EVS volunteerKada sam odlučila započeti ovu novu avanturu kao EVS volonterka, prolazila sam kroz vrlo zbunjenu fazu svog života. Upravo sam završila sveučilište i nisam imala pojma o tome što želim raditi, tko želim biti. Očajnički sam tražila posao, ali sve što sam pronašla nije baš odgovaralo mojoj osobnosti i idealima. Bilo je frustrirajuće. Moglo bi se reći da sam bila izbirljiva i zahtjevna, ali istina je da sam željela učiniti nešto posebno i drugačije.

Još se sjećam dana kada sam nasumično završila na web stranici Europske volonterske službe. Odmah sam se učlanila i tražila projekte u Hrvatskoj. Tako sam saznala o Petrinji i o Udruzi IKS.  Tako sam na kraju odlučila provesti čitavu godinu svog života u Hrvatskoj, zemlji koju nikad prije nisam posjetila, daleko od ljudi koje volim i moje preslatke mačke.

Ovdje sam stigla 5. siječnja, a danas je 5. rujna. Prije točno 8 mjeseci danas, moj život se drastično promijenio. Ostala su mi još samo 4 mjeseca moje službe i pitanja koja sam si postavljala prije EVS-a vraćaju se, jača nego prvi put. Što ću sada učiniti? Kamo ću ići? Jesam li još uvijek ista osoba koja sam bila i prije? Gdje pripadam? Neka su pitanja definitivno teža od drugih. Uf…

Kad sam stigla u Hrvatsku, osjećala sam se preplavljenom. Neću lagati, bilo je teško prilagoditi se novoj stvarnosti, spokojnoj zajednici okruženoj ljudima koje uopće nisam poznavala. Od prve noći skočila sam u stvarnost koja nije bila moja, gdje su se ljudi već poznavali, a ja sam bila pridošlica. Međutim, ubrzo sam saznala da su ti osjećaji nepripadanja i nepoznavanja samo u mojoj glavi. Polako sam se počela prilagođavati i oni ljudi koji su mi bili samo stranci postali su moja nova obitelj. Velika, multikulturalna obitelj.

Upoznala sam toliko ljudi otkad sam došla ovdje: druge volontere iz cijele Europe, lokalne volontere, ljude koji rade u IKS-u, lokalno stanovništvo, slučajne ljude koji putuju svijetom. Ljudi, prijatelji, s kojima se prerano moram pozdraviti. Svaki od njih me malo promijenio i, možda sam i ja, nekako, imala mali utjecaj na njihov život. Stoga pretpostavljam da nisam ista osoba kakva sam bila prije. Kako bih mogla biti? Ovo mjesto, ovo iskustvo promijenilo me na načine koje nikad neću zaboraviti. Naučila sam – i još uvijek učim – toliko o svijetu, o drugim kulturama, ali uglavnom o sebi. Kako bi jedna od mojih najboljih prijateljica sa EVS-a, Sofia, rekla: “život je proces učenja”, nije li?

Ponekad se pitam može li se ta nova osoba koja sam postala ponovno vratiti u Italiju, u svoj rodni grad. Ljudi kažu da vas kulturni šok dva puta teško pogađa: kad stignete na novo mjesto i kad se vratite u rodni grad. Istina je da se ne bojim povratka. Bez obzira na to tko postajem, moj rodni grad uvijek će biti mjesto u kojem sam odrasla. To je moj dom i ništa to ne može promijeniti. Naravno da bih mogla imati problema kad ću govoriti “bok!” ljudima na koje nailazim na ulici, ali to će biti samo smiješno.

Ipak, razmišljanje o budućnosti je strašnije nego ikad prije. Zbunjena sam više nego ikad prije. Osjećam se kao da ću se vratiti na početnu točku, točno tamo gdje sam bila prije gotovo godinu dana, prije nego što sam saznala za EVS. Ali u redu je, znam da mogu to riješiti. Ne znam kamo idem odavde, ali znam da ću stići na odredište.

Zatvorit ću ovo dugo – i nadam se ne depresivno – razmišljanje o svom iskustvu s jednom od mojih najdražih Wilcovih pjesama. Svim ljudima koji su bili dio ovoga, za one koji još jesu, you are my face.

Celeste Romano, EVS volonterka