Home is where your heart is …

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This is my story. Even if I'm trying to explain it really hard, I'll probably be the only one who can understand it completely. My EVS project was, unfortunately, not my dream project, but even if it wasn't, it changed me a lot. I don't know exactly: how, why and in what way, but I feel I am different after I've turned back home. I didn't realised what I want to do in my life, but now I know what I clearly don't want to do, which is also important, right?

I was living in the charming city, called on the name Riga, capital of the beautiful country Latvia. Maybe it's true that on the first sight Lativans are, comparing to Balkan countries (btw. I am from Slovenia), "colder" or more reserved, but later you can recognise that they are a friendly, warm and very interesting nation. Riga had, has, and always will have a magic atmoshere (at least for me): an amazing old city center with little streets, churches, small shops, great pubs… These things I didn't recognise in the first days of my staying. I need to admit that the new beginning was really hard. I didn't feel so well, I didn't like my work and I didn't know who and how to tell! I just wanted to run, run back home!

But I was lucky… In the first few weeks I met so many amazing people (thanks to my amazing mentor Sandra), which actually helped me to stay calm. In that time I took a really smart decision that I'll try to enjoy my life there. To do my best, no matter what. I didn't care anymore about things I don't like, I just started to appreciate this great opportunity of living abroad. And guess what happened? I've had the best time of my life so far. I spent a lot of time with my new friends: we organized common evenings, called "family dinners", which we all really enjoyed. Even if we didn't know each other so well, we found our connections really quickly – we were part of the same story. A story about living in another country, and that gave us so many priceless experiences and at the end unforgettable memories. Because of this people I found power, so I managed to achieve some changes also at my working place. My work was not just composed of office tasks anymore, but also of creative tasks I could really enjoy. One of them was a weekly workshop in the local orphanage, where, I hope, we brightened up some hours a week for small children. That was volunteering in the true sense of the word for me! We also organized a free hugs campaign, because we wanted to share happiness and warmth. We wanted to make some happy moments for people, but on the end their friendly attitude made our day. On the end everything found a right place and I was happy.

It was worth to go abroad and do voluntary service - even if it was far away from my family, friends and my home city. I learned a lot, achieved a lot and experienced a lot. The most important thing: I discovered that home is not where you were accidentally born, but where you choose it to be. Where your heart will choose it. Some time ago I wouldn't believe that one day, I'll sincerely and unreservedly acknowledge that a part of my heart is caught in the country I fell in love with in such a short time. And I feel like the previously unknown country, Latvia, became a part of me.

I could say that I learned how to enjoy the moments when I were chased by confusing and worrying thoughts about the future, how to appreciate simple, for most people self-evident things and how to trust yourself and go forward. Believe that life leads us to the right place, although sometimes on the way we see very dense fog.

I am not sure how and if Latvian story could continue, but even more: on my very very last days I totally unexpected fell in love. But, hey this is another story …

Mateja Toplak
27 years, Slovenia
EVS in Riga, Latvia for 7 months (june – december 2013)

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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