Maybe you have recently heard about EVS and came up with the thought that you want to go, maybe you have already found an interesting project in an amazing place and you are one click away from sending your application. Take a moment before taking the next step and honestly answer yourself those few questions.
Am I really interested in the project?
While the idea of going for EVS might be tempting because of the opportunities to travel, experience new things, meet new people and just simply live abroad, it is important to remember that it is also about working and fulfilling your responsibilities that are set in the project. For the time of the project you will be working on a particular thing. Think if you are really up to planning trees or working on a farm for few hours every day. If you do not like children probably going for an EVS where you would work in a kindergarten is not the best idea. Sitting behind a desk in the office and doing paperwork will most probably drive you nuts if you are very active person and cannot sit in one place for few hours. Think about what you like to do, what is interesting for you and based on this choose a project. Check the responsibilities and make sure the project corresponds to your interests and field in which you would like to grow and work.
Am I open to new people and new cultures?
Meeting new people and getting to know them and their cultures, traditions is an inevitable part of the EVS. You will meet not only local people but also other volunteers from various countries, for example on on-arrival and mid-term seminars. Being open for them is extremely important as you will be surrounded by new people and things basically all the time, you will not be able to get away from this and cultivate only your own traditions. Remember that people are very important part of EVS and your experience abroad; keep an open mind, learn about other traditions, cultures and make new friends.
Am I ready to spend that time away from home?
EVS is a great opportunity for young people to gain experience, live some time abroad and get more independent; it can be short-term (from two weeks to 2 months) or long-term (from two months up to 12 months). Of course you will be given a particular number of days off in that time when you will be able to go back home, on holidays, travel or do anything else you want to. The thing is that most probably you will not be able to go back home to see your relatives every weekend. Homesickness is a normal thing, it will get you at some point for sure but you need to be prepared to deal with it (here
are some few tips how to do it). Even though it might sound ridiculous at first, think about it – are you ready to spend few months away from home, without seeing in real life your family or friends? Will it be getting from your comfort zone to the stretch zone that will make you grow, or will it be jumping into a panic zone which will overwhelm you?
Will I be able to live in the given conditions?
Accommodation is one of the things provided by the hosting organization. Do not expect it to be a modern flat or home with newest equipment and Jacuzzi (it might be a nice, fully equipped flat but the Jacuzzi is highly improbable ;)), on the other hand it also should not to be a filthy place. Basic information about the living conditions should be included in the info pack so make sure to read it. It is better not to be surprised upon arrival that you will be sharing a room with two other people, especially when you need privacy and expected to have a single room. Conditions may also apply to weather in a particular country. If you very easily get cold and cannot stand it, going for few months EVS to Island or northern Norway is probably not the best choice. Try to learn as much as possible about the conditions with which you will have to deal during your EVS and think twice if you can accommodate with them.
Why do I want to do this?
Last but not least, ask yourself why you really want to do this in the first place. What is your motivation? What do you want to achieve, what do you want to learn? If your motivation is “because my friend is going and I want to go with her/him”, it might be better for you to reconsider the decision. While sunny weather in Spain or Italy may be a great advantage, sunbathing on the seaside should not be your main motivation. It will not be just a vacation for you, you need to be ready and motivated to contribute to the project, work with the local community and fulfil your responsibilities, not only enjoy the advantages of the place. Be aware of the reasons that are pushing you to this experience and where you are hoping to be after finishing the EVS. Thanks to this you will be able to get the best out of you volunteering experience and evaluate it better.
If you have answered those five questions and you have not changed your mind, you are ready to the new experience abroad and to face the challenges. Send your applications for EVS and join more than 100 000 volunteers who were supported by Erasmus Plus. We hope this will be one of the best experiences in your life!