My EVS So Far: Enjoying The Moment!
Time flies so fast! I can´t believe it has been 2 months since I began doing my EVS in Vienna. At first I was so excited – I still am!- and I kept admiring my surroundings. Grenzenlos office, my dorm, city centre… everywhere looked wonderful to me. However, since this was a different place and culture than my country, there were times I felt like a fish out of water. For example learning public transport was quite challenging to me because it looked very complicated and I am the type of person who gets lost really often. But thanks to my colleagues, friends and assistants I was able to learn them better and now I can find the places I want to go without getting lost too much. At least, I don´t get lost as much as I did before and that´s a good improvement!
During the first month I took intensive German course at an institute called LOQUI. My class had 3 students including me and we practised a lot with each other. They taught us basic German mostly based on speaking, so I feel more comfortable and confident about speaking German with locals. There are times I struggle due to not remembering words and/ or articles, but they often tell me that my German is good and it makes me feel very happy. I hope I will get better at German in the future!
One thing that really surprised me about Austrian culture was their portions served at restaurants. Whenever I went out to eat with my friends, the plates and food portions were too much for one person to eat, so we shared them often. A recent example would be on arrival training, when we went out to eat in an Austrian restaurant we ended up sharing our food to finish them together. That way we were able to taste a variety of food and sharing what we have with each other reminded me of solidarity.
Speaking of solidarity, I have participated in several activities with that theme, such as preparing a radio program and cooking together with the other volunteers. Before I began volunteering, solidarity was a term that had a negative impact on me because I used to be left out of social activities due to my disability. But thanks to these activities and being in an environment full of supportive, friendly volunteers, my opinion changed completely. Now whenever I remember solidarity, I think of the activities I did here and treasure those moments in my heart.
I feel so grateful for being able to volunteer here. I used to think that I was a useless person and a burden on others around me. But I am learning how to cope with self-negativity and I´m doing my best everyday. Knowing that my colleagues and friends need me motivates me a lot. I feel like I am able to improve myself and my skills. I had no idea how to use Microsoft Excel, but now I can use it to some extent. Surprisingly, I was also able to improve my Japanese by practising by myself everyday. I was invited to the summer party of Japanese studies department of Vienna University. When I went there with my friend and spoke with them in Japanese they were so surprised that they kept asking me how I learned it. I was able to tell that I took basic Japanese lessons in university and kept practising by myself afterwards. I also talked about my dream of visiting Japan someday and I was allowed to sing karaoke too, which gave me a lot of hope and confidence about myself.
Not knowing what I am capable of and what I will do after my volunteering ends is my biggest struggle. I have dreams to achieve, but I don´t know if I am capable of fulfilling them and it depresses me sometimes. However, my time here has taught me that I need to enjoy the moment instead of being stuck in my past or future. So I will just keep doing my best and hope that things will work out somehow!