Introduce yourself.
My name is Melike I am from Turkey. I am 26 years old. Here in Ciudad Real, I am doing my EVS project with Association Mille Cunti. Before that experience I was working as an industrial engineer in Istanbul. Now I am a volunteer.

Where did you do your Evs?
I am doing my EVS in Spain in Ciudad Real, and about to finish.

What steps did you take in order to get accepted from a project?
I was very enthusiastic to be a volunteer. To be accepted from a project, I have applied like 20 project. I was looking for the one which fits me better. At the end of December, I mean after 6 months I was accepted from this project. Firstly, on Facebook I joined groups like Find EVS, EVS, Erasmus+ Projects. Then for the motivation letter I read many articles from the people who had joined EVS before. I prepared a draft for my motivation letter and fill it for my favorite projects I had found. At the end of this period, I had an interview with this organization then I got accepted.

Why did you decide to go on Evs?
When I was in the university, I was a local volunteer/participant in my sending organization. I really enjoyed the time I spent there. Working in a group for different kind of projects made me think about different topics. Apart from my studies, I was spending time in the association CYDD during three years. To be participated was a good experience and in these years I heard about EVS projects. I was interested but I needed to finish my studies. Besides, the last semester of the university, I participated in an Erasmus+ Exchange in Bilbao, Spain. It was an amazing experience in my life; I really loved to be in international exchange. It was learning everyday a new aspect from other cultures. The best thing about this period was the young people who were building the peace of the world. I really loved to be there, so I decided to be in international environment again. I decided to be a volunteer.

How did you decide to go the country you went?
I was a student in Bilbao, during five months. With Happy Bilbao student group, I had chance to visit many different cities in Spain. I really loved to this culture because of their relaxing life style and the weather which reminds me south of Turkey, my hometown. And I started to learn Spanish in Bilbao, I decided to learn this language. So for me the best option was Spain.

Did your expectations meet the reality there?
From the country and the people I found what I was expecting. Environment and the culture made me feel good. I was expecting more diversity in the association which brings you more color and perspectives during the volunteering experience.

What about the culture of the country you stayed in? how about differences and adaptation process?
I really liked to be in Spanish friendship groups, because they are just accepting the people how they are. Apart from the weather in summertime in Castilla La Mancha, I really like to spend time with Spanish people. Cheerful, friendly and very relaxed people made me bring here, so I adapted easily. Besides from friendship, still I am learning about cultural codes, because there are many things to know about a country which has a long history and that much diversity inside it.

Can you tell us something very interesting about your experience?
For me the most interesting thing was cultural difference and team working because I was learning new things everyday besides different perspectives of others.  In my whole life it was the first time I was working with patients whom most of them have problem such of psychological problems. I wasn’t very comfortable in the beginning then I got used to . I started to understand concept of being volunteer in a hospital. With patients, with team working sometimes it was challenging, it thought me a lot of things that I did not know until know. Different kind of illness, the people are feeling bad because of their psychological problems for this experience I think it was the most interesting part.

Do you have any unforgettable challenging memories that change you or your life somehow? Or have strong impact on you?
For the EVS we have visited 2 different cities for the formation. First one was at the beginning and the other one at the 7th month or 8th month to evaluate our process of EVS. During this time we were learning people who are doing EVS had a bad experience. It happens usually in the beginning 6 months or 7 months because people started to get used to environment, culture and many different things. In addition they are missing their culture, family, and friends These 2 cases make the situation hard. In my first months I was a bit depressive because I wasn’t satisfied what I was doing. I mean I was motivated the activities I was doing in the hospital but at the same time I was a bit lost at the mid of everything. In the formation I realized that everybody has the same process. While I am experienced this a Spanish friend of mine recognized that I was not able to eat properly during one week and I lost 2-3 kilos. Because of this he brought me a couple of cap food (handmade J )It was  the best moment and what I needed. At that point I changed my mind. And it helped me a lot. I realized that friends can be very helpful this process thanks to this attitude I felt better.

What change in your life after this experience? Characteristically I mean.
Before doing my Evs I was working for the company that most important thing was like you have to be to make the work done. To do that, sometimes you challenging yourself and scream, discuss. In time I adopted this attitude. When I come here, I change this and I tried to be more tolerated more patient to the people. It changed me a lot I thing just because of my inner challenging. I am much more tolerated person now. But I do not know that It is a good thing or bad thing yet. I mean If you are tolerating and the others not , it can hurt sometimes and I think it should be balanced or equal. To be honest now If I had given this opportunity again I would have changed my manner to be less patient and tolerated.

What about the people, Spanish you met there?
I really liked the people I met there because from the beginning until now I feel very cheerful with them .Their perspective ,the way how they life their life  has a big impact on meJ In my previous experience ( Erasmus) in Bilbao ,maybe because of sun ,maybe weather, I was all the time very happy with them. They were very understanding and accepted you as you are. They were giving you many opportunities to share; they were trying to teach you the language, helping a lot when you were in the need of their help. So I was very happy with .Spanish People.

What do you think about the weather?
In Castilla la Mancha in summer (she smiled) sometimes it is irresistibly hot for me. A couple of time I felt a bit dizzy because of that. Especially when it was sunny and I should go to activity between 1 and 5 I  was trying to be on the shadow to protect myself not to expose the sun .In July it is over 40 and I  was not used to it . Even though It was 35 with humidity ıt makes you feel over 40. In a short time I got used to I mean the fastest thing in my life I got used to J hahaha ….

What about the food?
I am tapas eater I am usually consuming tapas with bear. Most places of Spain are the same more or less the same, I like them. For the sea food I am not used to consume shrimp or so ,I started here but JAMON ( kind of  traditional pork  )  is my favourite as in Turkey we don’t have much option for it. It is my favourite…

What is important know about Spain, Cuidad Real before a student starts EVS?
Before I started They informed me about the city. It is not big, It doesn’t have many options. I think there are many activities you can do out with locals by joining many associations activities. They are trying to get people participated in. The most important thing use social media such as facebook pages that they share activities. In addition it helps you to learn local language.

What is the most important thing you have learned during your EVS period? 
Soft skills, especially about the communication we had many problems about this. I think that was the most important thing I have learned. Sometimes you shouldn’t be empathetic and help them. This can create another problem. I learnt this as well. Now I felt like I am better with my expressions because when I arrived here not because of the language but because how I used the language I wasn’t sure about I express myself in the right way. It can help you for better understanding.

 How about budget was it enough to live?
It depends on how you spend it. At the beginning I controlled my budget. In summer time especially You are out most of the time. I have this problem. I think there are many people have budget control better than me. I learnt this it is very hard for me in Spain to have this control J. People want to be OUT. You enjoy your time and learn language so I am all the time yes men. I spent many on this .it is a bit bad sometimes but in return you get a lot. It is let’s say just enough.

What advice would you give to any future students?
For the future volunteer…When I come here I suppose that I knew myself. I love to help to people. It was the best way to understand, help and get involved. Just you shouldn’t expect that form others the same ethical behaviours. It doesn’t happen all the time. Make your expectation minimum from others .This is my advice.

Do you recommend EVS to other people?
Of course I recommend. When you are in your country you are not facing many situations. I mean yes you can face some, before coming here ,I was working Istanbul ,leaving, working with many people, being many teams but this is very different ,I am sure if you are looking for learning new things you will find it, The learning process is not just a process it is the way you realize how to learn ,and learn your own learning process. I definitely recommend you to do EVS.

Written by Nahibe Acar

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