Saturday, 18 February 2012 14:50

An international atmosphere in my life!

Written by Jutta Bissinger

Two years ago my life could be described pretty easily: I was a young girl from a town in Southern Germany dreaming about discovering the world, travelling to Africa or Latin America. But thinking about it more, I realised that I didn't even know Germany's own neighbouring countries. I decided it was time to go to Poland with the European Voluntary Service.

I hadn't heard about the EVS programme before, but found it by accident when I was browsing the web and thought immediately that this was exactly what I wanted to do! So I applied for various projects and chose the one which accepted me first. It brought me to a small village in South-Eastern Poland where I started working in a boarding school together with another volunteer from Istanbul. Frankly, it wasn't always easy. Sometimes we didn't know what our tasks were and sometimes we had to wait forever to get inside our building, because it was a big hassle to get our own keys. 

The year was so different from my life before: I travelled a lot and met so many people from different countries that I was 100% sure that I didn't just want to return to my hometown. During the nine months I got to know Poland from many different sides. I was impressed by the Polish people and their hospitality and learned pretty fast that that not everything always needed to be perfect for me to be happy! During one of the last weeks there I went to a birthday party that would change my life: I met one particularly nice Polish guy… and to cut a long story short, we're still together...


Of course I wanted to keep that international atmosphere which I'd experienced during EVS in my life! In March I started to look for universities in Europe and found the University of Southern Denmark. Even though I had never been in Denmark before, I liked the international atmosphere of the campus and the idea of living by the seaside. End of July, when I'd just come back to Germany, I got the letter of acceptance and in less than a month I was leaving for Sønderborg, to study European Studies! Sønderborg is a small town close to the border of Germany. The university is very modern and international. Since this summer I have been living in a flat together with another German girl and two girls from Latvia - only five minutes away from the sea. 

Of course I wanted to keep that international atmosphere in my life!

While all of that makes my situation really great, I didn't want to lose touch with Poland and the voluntary work. I became active in Horizont e.V., a German-Polish NGO for ex-volunteers, which organises meetings and seminars. Our last one, 'Neighbourhoods,' dealt with the Czech-Polish-German border triangle. The next seminar, a 'Gedenkstättenfahrt,' will be in Oświęcim (Auschwitz) next week for German volunteers in Poland. Two years ago I was a participant and that was how I got to know Horizont.

Today I'm sitting in my boyfriend's flat in Warsaw preparing the next meeting in Poland, excited to meet the new participants. My new semester will start in a week, but my travelling never stops: I will be in Berlin again soon for the board meeting of Horizont, and after the summer I plan to do an internship either in Berlin or Warsaw, or maybe in Brussels. 

Sometimes I can't quite believe how much my life changed due to EVS. While it wasn't always easy and I sometimes stood in front of a locked door, I learned so much for myself during that time that my lifestyle was turned upside down. With EVS and other programmes young people can get the chance to have new experiences, to get to know another part of Europe and reinvent themselves. I'm grateful that these programmes exist, and if you have the chance to do it, go for it!

Last modified on Saturday, 18 February 2012 16:10

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