I’ve imagined this moment so many times since this adventure started, but now the time has finally come and I couldn’t feel any less prepared for this very moment. All the walls of self-protection I had thoroughly built have now fallen apart without resistance. Is anyone ever ready for something you weren’t expecting? Of course not.
During an EVS, as in life, reality turned out to go so far beyond fiction. And as in life, everything starts across a random coincidence. An advert on the internet about the possibility of living in Italy for a while, with all the expenses covered, in return for some volunteer hours. Besides sounding appealing, it appeared to me as a way out, an easy escape from my life at that time. I thought it could be perfect to take distance and reflect on my future, while starting over in an unknown place for me. But I never thought this region in the northwest of Italy would become a place to call home, not for the physical space itself, but for the deep connection with some people. And that’s how I understood that you can feel at home everywhere, transcending space and time.
Despite the countless memories I’m bringing in my backpack, one shouldn’t undermine the dark side of the EVS; otherwise, wouldn’t be a learning experience and, otherwise, wouldn’t be real. The gap between a project written in a paper and the contradictions of actual application, a minimal budget, the misunderstandings and disappointments, the problems of coexistence, the lack of guidelines and the absence of a mentor, the solitude, the tiredness and the suffocating daily routine, the lack of empathy, etc.
With an endless list of complaints, one could think that it’s not a positive experience, however, this critical spirit shouldn’t be at odds with enjoyment, while recognizing the failures and mistakes made is the first door to change and improvement.
I could summarise my EVS experience as a roller coaster of emotions, which are difficult to express in words. So I can say it has been worth it, since it has shaped me into the person I’m today and it now belongs to my story.