A journey from the cold east to sunny Italy

When I think of summing up all that I’ve experienced during my EVS in Italy I’m a bit confused from where should I start and where should I stop. So I will try to describe my experience through the following phases:
1. Excitement 
When you find out you have been accepted and experience an intense feeling of excitement.
I have20161207_111430 been waiting for some time to get an answer from the NGO and at some point I have almost given up the hope that I would get a reply. One Friday I have received an unexpected email that I am welcome to Turin as soon as possible. This is when the excitement phase began. I was very happy about it that I couldn’t believe it was true. I couldn’t think or act properly, didn’t know how to handle this huge amount of emotions.
2. Fear
The moment your excitement level decreases and you start to freak out.
This is the moment when I suddenly started to freak out and ask myself questions like: What do I do next? How will my family react? What do I tell to my boss? How will I make it there? What if it will be hard? Do I have enough time to prepare?

3. Action
The moment when you start acting and preparing for your journey.
As I had very little time before leaving (1 week and a half), I had a lot of things to do, like quitting my job, buying my ticket, preparing my luggage for 6 months ahead, saying good bye to all the friends and family, etc. I’ve done everything in emergency mode and was ready to start my journey.
4. Honeymoon 
When you arrive to the new destination and you see everything in bright colours.
I arrived to Turin and was excited about beginning my volunteering experience. I was curious and amazed by the new surroundings, lifestyle, activities, colleagues, etc. I started to learn Italian, work, explore the city and meet new people. Everything seemed nice and smooth. I was enjoying my new life.
5. Reality
The Lavoro3moment you start seeing some grey shadows in the rainbow.
After some time in Italy I started to notice more and more cultural differences. I compared everything with how are
things back home. I started to miss the food, speaking in my native language, the comfort of my place, my friends & family. This was the period the real experience began, because I had taken my pink glasses off. Thus, the process of adjustment started.

6. Challenges
The period when things are getting hard and you have to cope with that.
This happened after a few months of getting accommodated Schermata 2017-03-18 alle 15.54.01with the new experience. In the process of adjustment to the new environment there are these “black moments”
when everything seems bad. All the negative moments and emotions got together and created a big black hole that was hard to ignore. The things that were part of my routine became very annoying (sharing a room/apartment, working on Saturdays, communication in 2 foreign languages, etc) . That was the time when I learned how to cope with negative emotions and manage conflicts.
7. The calm after the storm
The moment of peace after a stressful period.
This was the period of calm and peace after I overcame the challenges. Everything seemed better and I felt stronger and ready for the next adventure.
8. Confusion20170124_230011
The period of uncertainty before the end of the project.
The last months of my EVS experience were really confusing because I didn’t know what to do after. There were days when I wanted to stay, days when I wanted to go back home or move to another country.
9. Nostalgia
The moment you are looking back at your experience and want more.
This was the period before my departure. I started to feel nostalgic about my experience in Italy, I didn’t want to go home, I wanted to stay more
and enjoy its beautiful places and the awesome people that I’ve met. Basically I wanted to marry Italy!
10. Acceptance
The moment you accept your fate and move on.
After the nostalgia moment, I started to convince myself it’s not such a bad idea to go home. I still missed some things/persons from home and I could use a time to reflect about my life in a familiar environment. As they say, there’s no place like home.

IMG_20170208_085928As you can see, it was an experience with ups and downs. Nevertheless, I don’t regret it, because I have learned so many things which I will try to sum up in the following list:
– Italiano. I didn’t speak any Italian before coming here, but during 6 moths of my experience I am able to express myself enough to survive in Italy.
– Cooking. I never liked to prepare food. Due to the lifestyle that I had to adopt here, cooking became a part of my daily routine, and my skills definitely improved. I can now prepare half raw pasta and rice as Italians do it.
– Tolerance. As I was sharing the apartment with 3 other people, I became less selfish and more tolerant to other’s habits. Due to my experience with the immigrants I also became more open and curious about other nationalities and races.
– Communication. IMG_8701_2It was a real challenge to communicate with people from different countries, with different ways of thinking and especially not in my mother tongue. I learned how to better structure my thoughts and communicate them in an assertive way, though I still have a lot to improve about that.
– Enjoy life! Italians are the best at enjoying life, which basically means to
eat a lot of tasty and unhealthy stuff and drink the best wine. Also to relax and have fun until dawn! All these come with a cost of course (gaining weight for example).
– Gratefulness! I learnt that I should be grateful for what I have and make the most of it. So a “Grazie mille” goes to EUfemia for giving me this opportunity!

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