Alessia is only 20 but despite of that she already has gained many life experiences. Living in Spain brought her new chances, new people and new life. Alessia is a great example of that why young people should consider doing EVS.
1. Present yourself.
Hi, my name is Alessia. I am 20 years old and I come from an Italian city, Turin. I am an optimistic and energetic girl. I like getting out with my friends. I like reading books and watching films. I do not have any favourite genre, I like all of them but mostly comedy because I laugh all the time. My flatmates and the other volunteers are sick of it sometimes, haha. I like speaking and I do it all the time wherever I am. And what more, I am a simple person and I am very curious. I like meeting people because I like to get to know them, their lives, culture, countries they come from and so on.
2. Where are you doing your EVS?
I am doing my EVS in Ciudad Real, it is a city of Castilla La Mancha in Spain. In association called Mille Cunti.
3. Why did you decide for EVS?
There are more reasons why I decided to do it. Firstly, I needed to make some changes in my life and bring something new inside. Also, I wanted to get to know my personality better and learn life skills. Secondly, I wanted to improve my Spanish as I studied it for 5 years in high school and to learn English. Then, I just made decision and came to Spain because I like the country itself, people are nice, the weather is mostly sunny. I feel really well here. In general, I wanted to experience living in a foreign country, so here I am.
4. What is your task to do there?
My project is called United in diversity with the main activity that is called Trip to Europe or Storytelling. It takes place in the museum of Don Quijote in Ciudad Real. The main idea of the activity is more-less educative. We prepare it for the kids aged from 5 to 10. There are many topics related to Europe, for instance, music, culture, geography etc. We prepare stories for them in a very informal and funny way and so they learn about Europe and they do not realize it. I am giving Italian classes in a language school with my flatmate Manuel who is as well from Italy. Also, I am doing a class of Italian in high school for the students. There is another activity related to my project which is called English for future teachers that takes place in the University, it is mostly for students doing their master degree. The activity is mostly about English skills while talking about the language and as well about teaching skills that they can use in their future job. I am also cooperating with others volunteers and preparing some articles about particular topics.
5. Did it change your life?
Yes, it changed my life. I see that my mind has changed and I see life in a different way. I think that I improved also myself, my personality. Living alone in a different country, far from family, friends and everything that you were building a long time brings a lot of experiences. To sum up, I can not say I have had a bad time here. My experience in Spain is only good because of people who entered into my life. I can surely say I am happy here.
6. What did you learn there?
During my EVS, I got many life skills. Since I had not lived alone before, it was a little bit challenging for me to share everything with the others, especially when they are different nationality and culture than you are, but I think it is not big deal and I could do it without difficulties. While talking about different people, I have to mention also teamwork, I got many skills by working together. Another thing to mention is speaking in public as I am very shy. Before coming here, it was very challenging for me, but I think I overcame it and I can do it with no fears now. In general, I started to be more tolerant and accept many things. While living in Italy, I used to meet only with my best friends and since I have lived in Spain it suddenly changed because there were many people around me and moreover many new people. Because of this, I also improved my English since I had to speak with volunteers using only English. All these obstacles shaped my personality and my life and I can say I am proud of me.
7. Did your expectations meet with the reality there?
Frankly, I did not have a lot of expectations.All I knew was I would like to reach Spain because I like it there and I took it as an opportunity for self-development as well. I was very curious about life in Spain, about culture and people. And still, I am very curious because there is always something to discover.
8. What about culture of the country you stayed in?
In general, Italy and Spain are southern countries so at first sight there are not many differences between them, however, there are some that are relevant for me. While talking about food culture, it is very delicious here, moreover, I am a food lover. I feel very comfortable with Spanish culture. The magnificent difference between my home country and Spain is working hours. To compare it I give you an example, in Italy we start to work earlier and also finish earlier and here it is totally different. Starting late, finishing late. Another new thing that I met here was siesta. We do not do siesta in Italy. The only people who do it are kids and old people. Another curiosity about living in Spain is eating time. Those who already stayed here know that it is very late, even for me and I am from Italy. To sum up, life is very optimistic and positive.
9. Was it hard to change your life from one day to another day?
So, about changing life. Now, I live alone. Before coming here, I lived with my father since I am only 20. This is a big change that came up into my life. He used to go shopping, cook and stuff like this. And now, I live alone, I have to take care of everything. By living alone I realized a degree of responsibility. I know that I have to do housework because there is nobody who does it instead of me, no more prepared food for me in the fridge. I have to do everything by myself. While talking about cooking, I have to mention I do not like it. Even though I am a food lover, I hate cooking. From the beginning, it was terrible but it was getting better by the time.
10. Can you tell us something very interesting about your experience?
There are many interesting things but the one that is the most impressive for me is meeting new local people. They are the ones who can teach you something about culture and life in Spain and therefore it is very interesting for me. There is one more thing and it is travelling around the country. Only by travelling you can get to know the country better because Spain is very huge and each region is different. All of them differ something different.
11. Do you have any funny story?
Funny story, let me think. I have one. As I said I am very terrible with cooking and all the stuff in the kitchen. So one day I was cooking pizza in the oven, as it was in the oven I left the kitchen in order to wait while baking. After a while, my flatmate, Stanislav, told me that there is a strange smell in the flat. I had no idea what he is talking about. I just let it go. Unfortunately, the bad smell was coming from my pizza in the oven. It burnt. However, there was still a small part in the middle that could be eaten which was not very burnt.
12. What about people you met there?
I met a lot of people here in Spain which has made me very happy because I feel very well with them. I understand them, I can hang out with them, talk etc. In general, I feel comfortable with them.
13. Do you recommend EVS to other people?
I strongly recommend doing the European Voluntary Service. However, if you want to do so, do it before being 30 because there is an age limit. It is a life opportunity to develop yourself, change the mind, way of thinking and improve self-understanding. You can see the world from a different point of view. While doing the EVS you are like in the learning process. Also you can learn the language of the country you stay in. Just by living in a foreign country you can develop yourself. You are not alone there, there are many foreigners with you, helping each other, supporting in difficult situations, overcoming some personal troubles and many others are things that you have to face to them but that give you life experiences. It is kind of challenge for you, but very good challenge.