My name is Paraskevi and I’m from Greece. I spent the last year (February 2020- February 2021) as a volunteer in JUKS which is located in Tallinn, Estonia. Down below I’ll try to express how my volunteering experience was and I’ll try to make you feel somehow the things I felt.
First of all, when I applied I didn’t even know where Estonia is, and after some research and a lot of anxiety I ended up in Estonia on my 20th birthday. New year, new me! Haha! The begging for me was pretty easy although someone would have thought the opposite. In general, February isn’t a month that volunteers are coming so I was the only one who came at that time. Moreover, after less than a month of me being here, covid-19 started, so you can easily understand what was happening. But let’s don’t focus on the bad circumstances.
I can say I was pretty lucky because within a month of being in Estonia I had the luck to meet hundreds of people, go once to Helsinki and once to Rovaniemi (both are Finland), and to do a night hiking with other volunteers. Fortunately, Estonia during the first wave of the pandemic wasn’t that bad, so although I wasn’t working, I was able to explore my city the nature of the country, and also some other districts. Before I even realized it, summer was here and the long days with the sunsets at 22:00 o’clock became my favorite habit. Barbecues at the beach, gatherings with friends, and long conversations till the late sunrise. I was having friends that were volunteers, Erasmus students, permanent students, everyone who could basically speak English. No matter the culture, the religion, the tradition we were all friends with one thing in common, covid 19. The fact that we couldn’t party or go to clubs and the fact that we were all worried about our countries made us all a strong team. We were sharing thoughts and feelings although we were almost completely different. This is what brought me to the mindset or life phrase that I have till today «Think out of the Box». At the end of the day, we are all humans and we need similar stuff: love, food, alcohol, and fancy socks.
If I had to advise someone who is about to do an ESC I would clearly say: be open to everything, get out of your comfort zone, don’t sleep that much, and don’t complain about every little thing. A volunteer’s life isn’t about having luxury and comfort. It’s about learning. Learning yourself, others, and life in general.
A lot of times you will be bothered or annoyed by stuff or people, but these moments are the ones that will make remarkable and priceless memories.
If you don’t know something, ask, if you feel something, express it, and if you’re facing difficulties, oh well that’s life! You’ll get through this after some time. In general, ESC is a huge experience and for me, it was life changing. Can’t express all the feelings I have for this place and the people but for sure I’m more than thankful!
Much love from a crazy volunteer!