Year of Growth and Adventure – Avgoustis from Greece

Year of Growth and Adventure – Avgoustis from Greece

Hello, everyone! I am Avgoustis from Greece and I was (as I am writing this still am ;P) a volunteer on IntegrART 6 project!! It’s a bit challenging to summarize this entire year in an article, and I’m sure I’ll forget to mention many things, but I’ll give it my best shot.

When I first started this project, I was filled with adrenaline and excitement, but I also felt a little bit nervous. It was my first time living abroad, and I didn’t know anyone in Krakow. However, my initial concerns quickly faded away upon arrival. The project incorporated a two-week adaptation period, which I found incredibly necessary and valuable. During this time, we familiarized ourselves with the cultural clubs and high school where each of us would be working. This allowed us to connect with the amazing people we’d be collaborating with in the future. We also became acquainted with all six working places, which proved beneficial as we often had to collaborate in some of them.

But most importantly, those two weeks were incredibly interesting because they allowed us, the volunteers who became flatmates and, more importantly, friends, to get to know one another better. The six of us began spending time together, learning about each other’s cultures, differences, and similarities. We instantly clicked (luck was on our side), and we established our rules and boundaries for living together through lengthy conversations. This included everything from creating a cleaning schedule to respecting each other’s privacy. This effort paid off, as we didn’t encounter major problems down the road.

However, our discussions during those two weeks weren’t limited to household matters. We spent quality time together cooking our national dishes, sharing more about our countries, and indulging in games like Uno, among others.

Then came the phase of normal work, which was equally fascinating for me. From brainstorming ideas to contributing to the culture club, from getting to know the fantastic people working there to actively participating in various events, this was a fulfilling period.

During this time, we participated in numerous workshops, meetings, and training sessions, with the most memorable being the On Arrival training and the Midterm training – a week-long event in Warsaw and Torun with 20 other volunteers from various parts of Poland. It was undoubtedly one of the highlights of my experience. It also inspired us to establish a small community of international volunteers in Krakow, allowing us to make new friends and connections.

Not long after, we began implementing our own common projects, including International board game events, Volunteer’s day event, and the Kalejdoskop Festival, to name a few. This creative endeavor allowed us to express ourselves and have fun simultaneously.

As time passed, we became familiar with our work in the clubs and the joint projects. Interestingly, different activities took place in the clubs during different periods, giving us the chance to participate and contribute to a wide range of events, from theaters and concerts to picnics and winter camps. There was never a dull moment.

While the main focus of the project is giving back to the communities we work with, it doesn’t mean we don’t receive anything in return. Personally, I gained so much from this experience. I underwent significant personal growth and development, surpassing what I had experienced at university(a similar yet not so impactful experience). I had the opportunity to learn more about myself, become more vocal, and shed some of my negative traits. I interacted with people from diverse backgrounds, expanding my horizons and experiencing many things for the first time.

And let’s not forget the incredible travel opportunities. In this year alone, I visited eight different countries and explored seven different cities in Poland, discovering so much along the way.

It’s evident that spending a year away from your home country is not always easy, and I had my share of challenges. However, the positives far outweighed the negatives. Living in another country with people of different cultures, perspectives, and viewpoints can be challenging at times, but over time, you come to understand and appreciate everything. The same goes for sharing an apartment with five others. In the end, if you make it work, you gain invaluable experiences.

As a fun fact, I even learned to understand and love my country, my friends, and my family more deeply.

In conclusion, this year has been, without a doubt, the best year of my life! It has been filled with experiences, emotions, lots of fun, and personal growth, shaping me into a new and improved (I hope) person. I’ll never forget this incredible experience and all that it has taught me. And my final piece of advice: if you’re thinking of embarking on a similar journey, just go for it.


Follow Avgoustis to check his next adventures after IntegrART!

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