We all know how wonderful EVS is – it gives you so much: new skills and knowledge, experience, new friends, better understanding of yourself, travel… But is EVS really always so perfect?

Everybody always tells you that EVS is a bless – but people rarely mention those underwater stones that you can step on during your voluntary journey. I was one of the lucky ones: when it was my time to go, a representative of my sending organisation honestly told me that not all volunteers are satisfied with their experience. Sometimes they do not stay until the end of the program, even though they know that they won’t be able to go for EVS one more time. So, when I came, I was prepared that something definitely will go wrong. And you know what? Now I’m pretty much sure that my EVS is awesome.

That’s the reason why I’m writing this post: I truly believe that realistic expectations and readiness to deal with the problems that may arise will make your EVS the best experience you could ever have.

Guys whose EVS hasn’t started yet: please be prepared that at some point you will have to deal with some kind of a problem. Guys whose EVS has started already: just take a look at this list to remind yourself that it could have been worse! And while reading, keep in mind that the list is based on the real experience of the real EVS volunteers.

So, what can go wrong during your EVS?

Accommodation

axe-984008_640Let’s start from the very beginning. Your plane lands, your supervisor meets you at the airport, and brings you to your accommodation. And there…

  1. Turns out that the place where you’ll live for the next 5-12 months is super old, the ceilings are leaking, and in the night you have to start the mosquito safari if you don’t want to be eaten alive (and say thanks that those are mosquitoes, not cockroaches).
  2. Turns out that to take the public transport you have to walk a couple of kilometers to the nearest stop.
  3. Turns out that there is no decent heating system in the house, and you’ll have to prepare the firewood yourself to warm up during the winter. On the other hand, thanks to this hardcore workout you’ll definitely save some money on the gym.

Flatmates

It’s most likely that you won’t live alone in your new accommodation. And you can suddenly discover that the flatmates are the golden mine of surprises!

  1. Turns out that you’ll live in one room with the person who doesn’t speak ANY language that you know.
  2. Your roommate likes to eat smelly food while lying in the bed, watches TV series without headphones and goes to sleep only when for you it’s time to get up.
  3. Your flatmate regularly “forgets” that it’s his/her turn to clean up. Or worse: s/he doesn’t even pretend that s/he was going to do it.

Job

OK, anyway, you are not going to spend most of your time at home – you came to be a volunteer, right? If job is good, then you’re good as well! But…

  1. autumn-walk-1792812_640Turns out that while you were on your way to EVS, the drastic changes have happened, and now, instead of organising workshops for youth, your organisation strongly needs someone to walk out the dogs. Which is cute and fun, but not what you were applying for, right?
  2. Your supervisor thinks that the main purpose of EVS is free work, not learning, so guess how many interesting and diverse tasks you’ll get during your EVS.
  3. Turns out that your supervisor thought about everything… except the tasks for yourself, so now you don’t have anything to do.

Mentor

So now, when you know how bad it is, it’s time to meet your mentor and find the solution for your situation together. But…

  1. Turns out that you don’t have a mentor – your organisation just forgot that they have to arrange one!
  2. You realise that your mentor actually is the one who needs a mentor her/himself.
  3. Your mentor doesn’t know anything about EVS and your conditions, so instead of getting support in writing your learning plan, you have to provide support to your mentor in becoming an actual mentor!

Some of these points may seem funny, but in every joke there is a grain of truth. What is important to remember, is that every problem always has a solution, and the main key to it is a discussion. So if you confront anything of what was mentioned above, remember to be honest and open about how you feel, ask for help, solve the problem – and continue enjoying the wonderful experience of EVS!

This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication [communication] reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein