Tired of the routine of the student’s life, I was eager to travel, work and volunteer abroad – which is why I decided to take a gap year, and make the best out of it.
At first, having been a member of the AIESEC international youth leadership and exchange organization, I went for two short volunteering projects (6 weeks each), in Poland and Portugal respectively: it felt as an obvious follow-up of my path in the organization.
Once back home, I realized that these experiences hadn’t quenched my desire to travel – on the contrary -, and with still many months to go until the beginning of the new academic year, I decided that I wanted something bigger, longer, more complete, and more “European”.
I am an idealist, and love the idea of belonging to the European Union: I feel both Italian and European, and I am grateful for the opportunity the EU gave me to study for a semester abroad through the Erasmus programme (Zagreb, Croatia), and in general to travel, work and study without excessive complications in so many States.
I did some research, and I decided to look for a European Voluntary Service project: a challenge to myself; a chance to learn and hone my skills; a way to contribute to the local development of a fellow EU country and, on a broader scale, to the EU itself – all of which without having to rely on my family for financial support.
I started looking for projects in dedicated websites and databases, which is how I eventually ended up on an ad posted by an Italian association from Palermo – CESIE. They were promoting a handful of EVS opportunities, among which a 6-months project with the Slovenian association PiNA.
After studying in Trieste and living so close to the border, I was intrigued, and felt compelled to try and apply. That specific EVS was about youth, mobility, project management and education, with a prevalently “Euro-centric” and non-/in-formal approach: what a great chance!
The selection process started and, after sending my CV and Motivation Letter and passing two interviews (with CESIE as Sending Organization and PiNA as Receiving Organization), I was finally selected.
Flash-forward to today. After more than one month in Koper, I can say that I am really happy with my choice: the work is interesting and often challenging; I am immersed in a different culture, and had the chance to meet and collaborate with colleagues and other EVS volunteers from all over the continent.
It is something I strongly recommend to anyone who wants to grow as a person; to enrich his or her CV; to know new people, places and cultures; to strengthen his or her language skills, and have a great life experience!
The bottom line? Let’s live (and learn, and travel, and experience new things) while we’re young!
Ludovica, 22 years old, Italy