"I went to find myself. If I come back before I find myself, please, tell me to wait for me”

My story begins on a Sunday morning of July when I received an e mail from my hosting organization telling me that I am accepted to be part of their project, that consisted in being a volunteer at Chrześcijańska Szkoła Podstawowa "Salomon" Zielona Góra, Poland, where my duties were mostly to spend time with children between 4 and 12 years old, in the Common Room and to teach them English. I will always remember that day as the happiest moment in my life as it was the turning point for me.
Before volunteering, I worked for a company in Bucharest for more than a year and a half and I was happy and satisfied with my job. I woke up suddenly in a big world, serious and responsible. I have learned a lot of things there: I became diplomatic, organized, and aware of the effects of my actions. I enjoyed working in team with my colleagues, that became my friends. I was involved in my work, I dedicated time and energy so that in the end everything worked out very well and I was appreciated for all my efforts. Nothing to complain about and yet I felt tired, every day was predictable and steadfast. I felt like a robot with limited commands.
My life seemed to settled but I felt like that was not what I wanted , I needed to escape somehow, to change something that I couldn’t define at that moment...I wanted to see how is it like in the neighbor’s garden and maybe I can improve mine. So, one day, I decided to make the big step and to try to give a shape to the experience that I have always desired but I was never courageous enough to fulfill because I was scared of the “new” , creating myself some stupid, inexistent barriers. I was imagining myself very often living in a foreign country, on my own, meeting people with different cultures and mentalities, sharing experiences, making friends all over the world, starting a new beginning and I was happy by only thinking about this; it was a dream that I was afraid to try to make it come true. Nothing seemed to encourage it; it did not seem possible and it was never the right moment to leave. So when I realized that I don’t recognize myself in my own life, that I felt a stranger in my own life, absent and unsatisfied I made the first step. I had in my mind few words that I read in an article : “I went to find myself. If I come back before I find myself, please, tell me to wait for me”. I choose Poland . 
It is funny somehow because everything happened so fast and it came exactly in the most opportune moment in my life, when I felt so badly the need of a change. Everything was fine in my life, but still, I felt that something is missing. I don’t remember when I found myself with all the luggage in Zielona Gora, still thinking of my friends and family that I was already missing. A foreign country, a nice town, a new “home”. I was so nervous, excited and happy! I recognized my coordinator and my roommate that were waiting for me at the train station. We started to talk and I felt released, my worries vanished, as if I had the certainty that this is the best for me 
Since the very first moment at school I was fascinated! I remember the kids that were so curious about me and my colleague and started to ask questions as ”where are you from?”, “how old are you?” “how is it there?”  I remember one kid, that is 6 years old ask me if is true that Romania is a poor country )I knew then that I have to prepare myself very good for them…so energetic , so curious and so eager to find out answers.
The first weeks were for accommodation. I was a little scared because I could not communicate with them. My Polish was too poor and their English almost inexistent. But I took this as a big challenge and I struggled myself to find a way to express my thoughts, and the sign language turned out to be the best solution. I had to be inventive, clear and patient and the same was for them. There were moments when I had to deal with unexpected situations such as little fights between them or finding out why were they suddenly crying. It wasn’t as easy as I have expected, but now, that I remember, it was very funny! Just imagine some people playing “mimics” ) They came with different objects at me and ask me to repeat the polish name. At first, I took it as a joke, but, no, they were quite serious about it. We became teachers for each other and very good actors. I admit that the children have been for me not only Polish teachers but they made me think many times of myself. Since I am working with children I started to analyze my own life, I became my own psycholog. Not only once I recognize myself in them. I remember my childhood and somehow, I live it again. It’s like I am watching a movie and the protagonist is me. I remember I went through the same situations and only now I can realize what affected me as a child and the impact that had upon me. I watch their behavior and I try to explain it. They play games, somebody who wins is happy and rewarded and others loose, and are upset- that is indeed life...but the most important is to get over it, to fix what is broken and try again.
Though I have always known the importance of education, now I understand it. We need to shape our character since we are small, we need somebody to help us to develop, somebody to encourage our talent and free way of expression. I think that the teachers should be more appreciated for their devotion and effort because giving the best to help a child to choose the right path in life is a hard job  For me it is impressive how ordinary daily routine can motivate them and push them to discover more about their passions and talents and simple events like “Volunteers Day ” “Mother’s Day ”, “Opened Doors” can be reasons for them to express it. These moments are inspiring also for me! I find myself full of emotions for them, wishing that everything will be perfect in the end and everybody will be satisfied  . I am proud of them every time, even if my contribution is not that big. I help them with their tasks and I encourage them to be brave and stay calm and ,of course, I am their biggest fan. In the end they hug me and I feel the biggest satisfaction. Their warm smiles, honest thoughts and innocent behavior are the priceless memories that I will ever have.
Now, after 7 months, I have more responsibilities. I am keeping a blog where we write about everything related to school and EVS project and once at every 3 month we are writing a bulletin. These tasks are really interesting and useful. I developed my writing skills and also I find this a very good opportunity to analyze my project better and to notice the changings. It is a good way to express myself and to share my experiences with everybody.
Now, I also teach English to zero class 3 days a week and we have created “English club”. At the beginning I was a little uncomfortable, but now...I trust the children and they trust me, too. I see the progress in everything we do and I am very proud of them! I got emotionally involved in my work and I feel dependent on their free hugs and smiles. They emotionally blackmail me with their big smile and cute voices. I admit I am very much attached to them and to the teachers from school that comforted me in all ways. I feel lucky to have met so nice people that took care of me as one of the kids. I am grateful for their support and kindness. I wish that all the positive energy that I received would be sent back as a boomerang. They enlighten my clouded winter and wormed up my cold Polish days 
I improved my Polish language, so that I understand everything kids say. There is no more “language barrier” and I feel much more confident  I got to know each of them, I know their reactions, I know how to deal with them, I know what they like, I know their favorite games and favorite stories…they are part of my life now, and they make my staying here very pleasant and happy!
I have also learned from them to pay attention to everything around me, to express every thought that concerns me and to feel free.
Every day at 12 we have a short walk and I have noticed how much attention they pay to every little thing on the ground and they have questions for every detail on their way ”why?” I took this behavior from them and now I am always searching for the answer of this key question in my life.
So, I started with the name of the street I’m living on: “why is it called Batorego?” and I found out. And then other questions raised in my mind about Polish culture and then about German culture (my roommate is a german girl) and so on. I discovered that I am more and more interested in foreign cultures and the more people I meet the best! I borrowed from their behavior and passions. I am eager to listen to their stories and to “steal” a little bit from everybody.
I got the chance to meet a lot of people here. Every Thursday we organize Tandem and we gather around 15 people from different countries. For me, this is amazing! We created friendships, we go out together, we share impressions, feelings and thoughts, we exchange opinions and enriched our general knowledge and open more our minds.
Still, I miss home, of course, and I am very inpatient to go back. I want to go back and share my experience. Maybe, there are other people willing to try this experience but without enough conviction. Maybe they don’t know what to expect from this. Maybe they are afraid to get out from their comfort zone. Maybe they don’t want to alienate from their friends and family. These were my worries before deciding to choose EVS program that comparing to everything I have gained, it’s not worth having. And though I am far from my country and I have not seen my family and my friends for more than 7 months, though I miss every detail of my life, I realized that EVS, ironically, brought me closer to them, made me grateful for having them. I appreciate more every single thing I am missing now 
I have also realized that I became more patriotic and I feel happy when I talk about my country. I want to let everybody know how is it like in Romania, and to vanish the stereotypes. I found out different opinions about Romanians and I became more aware of our image in Europe and not only. I want them to see the good and beautiful size of it, and to give it a try and visit it! I promised I would be a good hostess. I became a promoter of my country.
Since I was a kid I dreamed about such an experience but as I come from a small town ...it didn’t seem possible. So I grew up with the desire of surpassing my limits and I am proud of my achievements so far! Personally, I feel that I fulfilled my expectations. I feel that there are no barriers for me and that the world is not that big anymore. I feel able to succeed in my next goals, with energy, optimism and motivation. EVS made me stronger and more independent.  It is the best time to reflect about yourself and to find answers for your questions, to satisfy your curiosities and to share experiences; it is a way of surpassing your fears and confide in your ideas. It changed the way I see things, the way I think and feel about myself. I feel rich now with the best memories, feelings and experience ever! I feel closer to what I wish I were.
Now, let’s balance : I exchanged an year of doing the same things, maybe at the same job, same life, busy as always, happy with the money I earned, complaining about something I couldn’t define, waking up tired and wishing for a change. I exchange it for an year of a new and different life, among very nice people and adorable kids, a time of reflecting upon myself, learning and teaching so many things, visiting so many nice places, meeting a lot of foreigners, learning how to learn, watching myself in a mirror smiling, discovering passions, finding inspiration and energy, motivation, seeing a clear image of how I want my life to be from now on, I cleared my mind and organized my thoughts. Was it worth it? The only answer:YES!