As I have mentioned before this blog is not only trying to give you a scope of the local culture in the eyes of a foreigner but also to give you an insight of what it means to be an EVS, to serve in the European Voluntary service. For this reason I visited Krsko, a city that hosts at least 6 volunteers at the moment. I shut down with 4 of them and had an honest conversation about what it means to be on a project such as this.
The girls I spoke with are working on a film production company and are making short movies every month of various types, usually in the forms of documentaries. I have shared their work before on the article about martinovanje and I visited them again because I always admire their way of thinking and since we met in October we have developed a great relationship and cooperation. So what was the verdict? Well since this interview was more of a discussion a lot of subjects were covered. The main idea was to discuss the EVS experience in full length and to also discuss how we feel about the Slovenian society.
Generally when we talk with people who are not or have not been volunteers themselves we tend to share the good part of participating in an Erasmus+ project, such as the fact that you visit a new country, you meet new people, you have the chance to explore yourself your boundaries and evolve. But at the same time it can be a very stressful and emotional experience. One of the girls told me that she came really close to giving up a few weeks back and I could immediately relate to what she was explaining. What usually makes us stay is the passion that we feel about our work and our project and our will to take it as far as possible. We see a year abroad as a chance to gain important experience and in most of the cases it is experience that you gain through self-involvement and personal will.
After this our conversation quickly shifted to the subject of society and our expectations and realities about our life here. We all agree that Slovenia is a very beautiful country and it is quite practical that it is small. We can easily see a big part of it within a year of living here and we can also be in three other countries within an hour. This fact though comes with different responses. For some, it comes as an opportunity to gather as many days off as possible in order to visit places and for others it is an excuse to stay put. For one of the volunteers the size of the country makes her feel free; the fact that she can be somewhere else within the hour makes her feel that she can do it at any time.
At the same time, despite the country’s beauty we were all surprised by the lack of involvement in public events by the local people. Despite the fact that we are all involved in projects that require human interaction we all mentioned that it is quite hard to meet local people since they do not participate much in events or it is hard to connect with them. Especially for Krsko it was discussed that there have been all kinds of musical events for all tastes and in all of them the participation was minimal. Also for most of us when we were younger the important thing was to meet our friends not the type of music that was playing on the background. After this the conversation shifted into discussing various countries and various habits as well as future plans and what struck me was the feeling of surprise on the way people interact and function. A lot of people perceive volunteers as people who pretend to work, but for me volunteers are the ultimate workers, because they invest actual time of their lives that has little or no benefit economically, which means that is work with a meaning.
What I am trying to portray here is that there are always two sides to a coin. For all of us being an EVS was perceived as a great opportunity and for those who did not give up it still is. But as anything in life our journey here is not paved with roses; there are good days, bad days, ups and downs and a lot of work or not so much work. All in all, it is an experience that is worth trying for sure and maybe your life will change forever or you will go back to being your old self when it’s over. I’ll close this article with a statement that stayed with me since my visit to Krsko
“it’s like there is no time here. Like we are in a bubble made of jelly. Sometimes it feels like I just came and others like I am a local”