Volunteer's Blog

A Great Experience in My Life

EVS Volunteer

Bologna, Italy, October 2018 (Indah Setya Alam)

At first, I didn’t expect that I’d had the opportunity to take part in an EVS program in Italy. Feeling happy, and at the same time excited haunted me every time. Many questions got into my mind, even though Mbak Aini and Sebastian (Chair of the Organization) always gave me support. Can I? Can I do it? Is my English good enough? Am I sure I want to go there? And there were many other questions tucked into this head.

Finally, that day arrived, the day I left Indonesia and ready to go to Italy. One day passed, and I arrived in Italy. My little heart said, “Oh my God, I’m in Europe!” Yes … maybe because I was too happy. When I arrived at the airport, I was picked up by Stefano. He is an organizational coordinator from Italy called Scambieuropei. On the way to the apartment, he explained to me about what I should do while in Italy.

When I arrived at the apartment, I was a little surprised, because I felt the apartment was better than my house or boarding house :D. I live in an apartment with another 3 friends from Austria, Germany, and Spain. They are very kind and friendly. I feel like I have a new family here. Every day, we queue for baths or cooking. Sometimes we also cook for each other, and one time, I cooked them Gulai Ayam, because I brought lots of seasoning from Indonesia. Almost half of the contents in my suitcase are spices and snacks from Indonesia. On the second week, the stocks of the seasoning began to run out. Luckily, I found the Chinese Market. I was so happy when I found that place. Finally, I could eat spicy food every day, but every day I had to be prepared to go to the toilet because I eat spicy food.

I work in an organization called Associazione Interculturale Universo, an organization that provides facilities to promote activities that spread, motivate and facilitate mutual understanding of people of different cultures and origin for immigrants. So Scambieuropei had collaboration with the Associazione Interculturale Universo, and I work there.

The first time I came to the office, I still didn’t understand what I had to do and sometimes, I also had difficulty in digesting the words when they talked too fast. Sometimes it happens like a misunderstanding because I don’t understand completely what they are talking about. And sometimes, I ask them to repeat what their conversations are. This is indeed a pretty heavy start for me. Because of language constraints, what I do sometimes is not according to their expectations. But slowly—slowly—I began to learn and understand even, though it wasn’t to the full.

Activities at the Universo are Language Courses, Transcultural Workshops, Informatic Classes, Universo City Tours, Exchange Forums, etc. I have the responsibility to take photos in each activity, make various flyers, and be in charge of the exchange forum.

At the Universo, I met other volunteers from different countries. In my opinion, they are friendly and always there to help me when I have problems. They are also very total when they are doing something. Their footsteps were very fast, and sometimes I was left behind even though I was walking fast already. The perk of being a short person :). In addition to the discussions related to the project, we also discussed a lot about culture, food, style, and many things. I feel my mind is wide open and my insight is getting wider.

Saturday and Sunday are holidays for me. Usually, I take advantage of my vacation time to get around the city of Bologna with my friends, go to the park near my apartment, and sometimes go to the library if I feel like it. Stefano invited me and other friends to visit his home at that time. The Stefano family is so nice and friendly. They made us feel welcome, we ate together, and helped them to harvest olives. A new experience for me, because it was the first time I saw olive trees directly. We were also invited to the factory where the olives were processed into olive oil. We were also given the olive oil we harvested previously. I was glad to be in the Italian family for two days.

I also met with the Indonesian Student Association in Italy. We shared stories, and their stories inspire me that I must fight more for the future and must continue to work hard to make my dreams come true.