“Moreover, I got the opportunity to try out new things, I probably would have never done, if I hadn’t done the voluntary service, for example doing climbing or cross-country skiing.”
This week we will get to know Fabiola Haumann from Germany. Fabiola is participating in a German volunteering project called Internationalen Jugendfreiwilligendienst (International Youth Volunteering) and is working in a kindergarten in Võru for 12 months.
How do you like Võru?
I like it very much. In the beginning, I was a bit bored because I didn’t really know what to do. I wanted to be in Tallinn with all its events and all the volunteers who live there. Now I like it here. I enjoy the calm and nature I wouldn’t have in such a big city Tallinn is. We also have a wonderful lake. Our flat is right next to it, so we can see it through our window all the time.
How did you end up in Võru?
Actually, I wanted to go really far away from Germany. But I chose an organization which has a lot of projects in Europe. It also offered some projects in Estonia and one of them was in Võru. I never thought about going to Estonia, but I also didn’t know a lot about this country and especially about Võru, so I thought it would be interesting to discover it and its neighboring countries. I liked the project in Võru the most and applied for it. This is how I ended up in Võru.
What did you know about Estonia before and how has that picture in your mind changed during your time here?
Not really a lot. I just knew it is one of the Baltic states and a little country located in the North-East of Europe. I also knew it does not have many inhabitants and I heard before that Tallinn is a beautiful city, which is definitively true.
Are there any surprising things for you about Estonia/Estonians/Estonian culture? Or anything that is very different and took a time to adapt?
It was very difficult to get used to the Estonian mentality. Estonians are very closed and reticent and in the beginning, I had some problems with that because I didn’t expect it. Although I knew Estonia hasn’t a lot of inhabitants, I was surprised to see so much forest and lakes. I was also surprised that music is quite important in Estonia because there are a lot of festivals and big events in summer. I also didn’t know and was surprised that it is common to eat porridge for breakfast which I got to know in the kindergarten. In the dark time in December, it was sometimes a bit difficult to get motivation and not to be tired because most of the time of the day it was dark. On the other hand, I think I will get sleeping problems in Summer because it is bright almost the whole day. In Germany, we don’t have such extreme dark- or brightness.
Why did you choose to do volunteering in general?
After school, I wanted to go abroad. Since 10th grade, I was thinking about work and travel or doing a volunteering service. I ended up choosing a volunteering service because you get financial support, you can learn another language, you live by yourself and get more independent and you also meet new people especially the other volunteers. I also didn’t want to do work and travel that much because I was afraid to not finding work and then not having the chance to travel.
What is your work like? How does a typical day at the kindergarten look like?
I am working with 6 to 7 years old children who will come to school this summer. In my group are around 20 children and two teachers as well as an assisting teacher. I start working at 8:30 am with breakfast. At 9 o’clock we have the morning circle and after that, the children mostly have lessons or do art. Since they go to school this year they learn writing, reading and calculating. The other time I play or draw together with them. Before lunch, we go outside for approximately 1 to 1 ½ hours. Sometimes we have music or sports lesson. After lunch, I go home and the children have mid-day sleep. I like the days we do something interesting like going somewhere, in a museum or to the forest for example, or having an event in the kindergarten.
Are there any funny situations that you have encountered during your stay here?
There are funny situations almost every day. It is always funny when you meet other volunteers and our language course was mostly also quite funny although you think it is like school and nothing funny. Also work is sometimes funny, especially if we are going to yard and play there.
Do you feel some changes since you started your volunteering program?
I think I didn’t change a lot. I definitely learned more by living by myself because in Germany I lived with my parents. Moreover, I can decide much more things on my own, for example, what I cook. I also pay more attention to the usage of my money and I am more careful about what I spend it on. Moreover, I got the opportunity to try out new things, I probably would have never done, if I hadn’t done the voluntary service, for example doing climbing or cross-country skiing. Apart from that, I figured out that I like art and doing handicrafts (although I am not very good at it).
What will you do after your voluntary service?
I don’t want to study this year, but next year because I still didn’t decide what I want to study. If I start studying this year it would also mean that I have to move out in a new city, but I still want to live a bit at my family’s home and in my hometown. Besides, that gives me a lot of time that I want to spend working and traveling a little bit more.
Fabiola Haumann stays in Estonia for 12 months voluntary service within Internationalen Jugendfreiwilligendienst (International Youth Volunteering) program.