Hello, my name is Elvira Popova and I am an ESC volunteer in Estonia! My project is related to preschool children: together we are studying the culture of their native city Võru and my homeland, the Republic of Bashkortostan.
I have heard a lot not only about what a wonderful project it is, but also what is difficult (hard work, bad neighbors, language barrier etc). That is why I will be glad to share with you 10 happy weeks of my volunteering and what rules I managed to learn during this time.
- Home sweet home
The apartment that is given to you for 8-12 months is overgrown with coziness and history thanks to you! Do the cleaning, buy a new bath mat, decorate it for Christmas and New Years, and then it will turn from a volunteer apartment into your HOME, and this is very important for the emotional spirit!
- One neighbor is good, but two are better
The person (s) living with you bring joy or disappointment to your every day. And to have more joy – be open and friendly. Do not criticize, but find a compromise, do not do everything around the house yourself, but delegate responsibilities, do not be greedy, but share impressions from the day, your favorite recipes and traditions. Become the neighbor of your dreams!
- Work, work – I will come here on Saturday
Your organization, without modesty, is your second home, so you can do everything the same as in paragraph 1: communicate, find out the internal rules and offer your ideas. Your colleagues will help you adapt to the new city much faster.
- Estonian cuisine or how to love kama
National cuisine and its study is one of the most enjoyable activities. Buy a local cookbook and cook with it, and get close to your neighbor and learn local recipes. And if you don’t like to cook, then simply order a dish in a cafe. Make a choice not in favor of pizza or Caesar salad, but better pudding from semolina with cranberries or smoothies with kama!
- Very interesting, but nothing is clear …
In the first days your head will be splitting from not understanding another language, at 2 and 3 week it will become normal and by the 4th week interest in the language will come up. Don’t miss your chance, learn new languages, develop neural connections, even if only 1 million people use this language
- Travel broadens your horizons
Travel is not always about leaving for 2-4 weeks, returning with photos and an empty wallet. Sometimes it is a bus ride for 3 euros and two hours of an exciting walk. Get to know Europe, and most importantly, get to know the country of your volunteering!
- Friendship and communication with Estonians
Local parties, meetings, volunteer and thematic associations – in one word, wherever you can meet Estonians (locals) tere tulemast. Thanks to such communication you will not only learn about the culture and traditions, but you will also be invited to visit and for the holidays!
- Cultural events are not recommended to be missed
Kadripäev, Christmas fairs, folk dances and songs – be open to a new culture and people will be open to recognize you and your culture in return, and this is how solidarity is born!
Work, communication with a neighbor, national cuisine – all this is a plan for an excellent adaptation to new conditions. And for the soul find a hobby where you would do only your favorite things 2-3 times a week for 1 hour: clay modeling, sports, dancing. I chose folk dances for myself – I do not miss a single lesson!
- The future is being created now
The project will end. Yes, no matter how sad it is to talk about it and it is important to understand now what awaits you at home, what plans you have and how the volunteer project will help you today!
Great volunteering, Merry Christmas and Happy New Years!