The content of a suitcase

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Where to start?. I have tried like a thousend times to write my story. It has been some time since i finished my project, the 20th of march 2012 to be spesific. And the task of writing about my experience to motivate you to do a similar one is really not a simple task. Because no matter what i write, no matter how much i can put down on a piece of paper, it will never be enough to explain the feeling i have inside, the smile on my face, the memories in my head, the freindships I got, and the hunger i have for more!
It simply started with my lust to learn italian, the search for an experience abroud, and i found youth in Action and the EVS (european volontery senvice)program. I wanted something else, i wanted an adventure, and i took the chance, something i will never regret. The best decition in my life. Im actually sitting with tears in my eyes right now because of all the feelings running through me. Happiness, all the memories, all the people, the culture, the feeling of belonging to something bigger than myself. The smiles, the laughter, the difficulties with expressing myself, the shock of suddenly being alone but at the same time so much a part of everything. How, just how can i explain everything when most of it is just a part of who i am now?
I came to Altamura in Italy at 6 a clock in the morning the 2nd of september 2011 after almost 24 hours of travveling with one suitcase. One suitecase containing everything i thought would be important to live in another country for the next 7 months. Toothbruch, clothes, shoes… Little did i know that the suitecase in the end turned out to mean nothing for my survival.
The first thing was the heat, the smells, the feeling of being lost but at the same time the exitement of starting my big jurney.
Second, the language, the beutiful language, the food, oh the food! How i miss it.. The culture, the mentality its so different. The first days were packed with new impressions. It was so strange to go and get an italian simcard, to do the shopping for the fridge to furniture my bedroom, i was going to live there, it was my new home. It was terrifying and exiting at the same time. I had language courses in the office, and worshops around the city. It was not many talking english so i simply had to talk italian to get to know people. Sometimes it was really difficult, i didnt feel like i could express myself as good as i wanted, it took alot of time before i could make and understand jokes and sarcasm, often i felt compleatly lost, but suddenly the fear of making mistakes dissappeared, and my thoughts were no longer in norwegian or english. You should have seen my face the first time i actually realised that i was thinking in italian… Lucia my ”boss”, my safe zone, my therapist, told me in the beginning that i needed to tell her when i had my first dream in italian, i cant remember anymore when it happend, because after the first time it just continued, in the end i cant remember dreaming in norwegian at all. What i do remember is my first dream in norwegian when i got back home, it felt like i was concius during the whole dream, yelling at myself screaming that it was wrong!
During my time in Italy i met alot of new people, not only italians, because Link always has alot of volunteers, i lived with them in the volunteers house. Polish, french, spanish, slovacian, dutch… And we all had things in common, we were volunteers, we were giving of ourselfs, we were curiouse.. And all these things always made us somehow freinds in a strange but somwhat strong freindship. Ofcourse you always meet people that you like more than others and these people are still my friends. Its such a strong and great feeling talking to every one of them, to hear how things are going, whats their plans and when, not if, we are going to meet again.
To be a volonteer is not only about the project that you have. I know that i did not tell you much about my project and for that im sorry.. but the project, now looking back, is only there to help you get a way into the community. Once you are in, you will never be the same. The people around you will get a relation to you, not only those you work with but also others around town, because you are working in a place in their city, a place thay know of. You are the stranger that they want to know more about, and suddenly you have friend. Isnt that wonderful? You make a new life, you get to start over, you get to be accactely who you want to be. The new beginning. You probably think; yeah the new beginning while im away but when i get back home… but its not like this! Dont even think about it! I changed, i didnt know in the beginning that i did, i didnt feel it, but now, since it has been some time after my project and i have had time to settle down back home i dont feel the same. I feel rich! I feel passionate, curiouse, more reflected, adventuriouse, different!
This experience changed me. It changed the way i see things the way i think and feel about myself. It gave me many and strong friendships that i am so greatful for! It gave me the possibility to learn another language, to live in and feel another culture. It gave me passion for travveling and discovering of other cultures. It opened my eyes for a different beauty in life. Even though i was lost, i found the way because I grew. I could continue with this for alot of pages but you could probably guess half of everything it gave me so I will just tell you a little story in the end insded.
It was christmas and i was celebrating in Italy, my boyfriend came for celebrating with me and brought with him gifts from my family. One i remember very clearly is the one from my mom. It was very simple, a bracelet with chinese stones with the meaning of safe travvel anywhere i go and a card. And in the card it said: I im so proud of you honey for following your dreams and i am sure you will do great because of you curiosity and kind heart. You will for sure come home with your suitcase packed with stories, experiences, strong impressions and wondeful memories.
And my mom was right! Even though I actually needed two suitcases to get all my stuff back home, the things were not that important. And my survival did not depend on the content of the one suitcase i travveled down with. My mom was right, and in this case, I am truly happy that she was!

Fifth Edition

5While closing the 4th edition of Scriptamanent, after the final meeting in Izmir, we are already preparing the new call for the next edition of the project. Stay tuned!

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