It seems like it was yesterday when I was packaging my luggage in Tenerife and preparing myself for one year abroad. The departure was easier than I thought, because as practically all of the volunteers, I was wishing to leave my confort zone in the search of new adventures. The worst part is the goodbye to the family, without knowing when will be the next time visiting them, and the weather, with a bag full of winter clothes that I have never used in Canarias.
About the arrival, It was like a little earthquake, new country with new language (Croatia), new working language (English) and new people everywhere. However, we were 6 volunteers who came at the same time (2 italians, 2 spanish, 1 french and 1 portuguese), so adding the fact of being living and working together made us become a new family very soon.
The first weeks were for knowing each other in the house, and to discover the ongoing projects in the organization. We are working on INFORMO and ECOMUSEUM ISTRAN de DIGNAN, which are the biggest organizations in Croatia working with the Erasmus + Program, under the European Voluntary Service grants. This is the reason because of our firsts weeks also consisted of listening and learning, with a lot of presentations and In-put. After these learning weeks, we started looking for what could be our rol inside the organization, as well as working in the land (it was the olives season) giving a hand to the organization, and collaborating with the local school planning some competitions for the entertainment and learning of the kids.
The main target of the organization is the urban regeneration of Vodjnan-Dignano, where we live, a small town 10km far from Pula, in the south of Istrian Peninsula. However, there are a lot of job to do besides that this field, because the organizations (in particular INFORMO) work also with a lot of European Projects, expanding the spectrum of work to a regional, national and international frame.
Not only we are developing our profesional side, but also our personal skills, and in this two months I have learnt more about myself than in the last whole year. The fact of being out of your comfort makes you learn necessarily, obtaining skills of team working, cohabitation, assertiveness and solving problems.
One of the best things in this two months has been the on arrival training in Orahovica, a small town located in Slavonia (East Croatia). This kind of training is something that all the EVS do, and it consist of a 5 days meeting with all the Erasmus + volunteer in your country that started the EVS in similar dates. During these days, you learn about what actually is an EVS, always through the non-formal method, about your duties and rights and specially, you meet a lot of interesting people with whom you will share a lot of experiences during this year and probably will become your close friends.
In short, two months that have passed very quickly, showing us that it is just the begginig, because there are still 10 months remaining for the end of the project, and 10 months that probably will be amazing (specially during the summer season).
So, with all of that, I conclude saying that the European Voluntary Service could be a wonderful opportunity to discover and develop yourself, in a personal and profesional way. And from here, I encourage to all the people that have doubts about the EVS to take that step into the unknown and live this unforgettable experience.
Juan Avilés, voluntario SVE Croacia
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