I am an EVS volunteer and I have been in Croatia for 7 months now. Since I arrived, except Croats I’ve met with many people from all over the world and I am still getting know new people in Zagreb. Even I have been before in many multinational environments, my volunteering experience is the best. Because I am living with other EVS volunteers and each of them amazing person who help me to grow and make me feel supported.
I think it is not a coincidence that EVS volunteers are very emphatic, happy to help others, full of love, very creative and open-minded -of course there might be some exceptions. When this people get together they are a big team with different personalities, interests, life stories, habits and cultures. I am more interested in ‘culture’ part because it makes us who we are and when we understand other cultures we understand ourself even more.
I also think culture is the one which drives us apart and brings us together at the same time. It depends on us how to understand and react on it. If we can accept other cultures as they are we can accept ourself more. If we do not accept others as they are then it can drive us apart. It is normal that all of us had a cultural shock when we first arrive in Croatia. For me everything was a bit chaotic in the begging but now I understand more and I am adapted here. As a Turkish, I found many common things between Croatia and Turkey and many differences as well.
Cultural differences teached me there are many different ways to do something, different approaches to life and not only mine is true or right. It gave me a lot of ideas about my habits which are useful or not useful. I am very proud of where I am and I will never forget about my origin but I am learning to change also some of my habits or beliefs which are not useful anymore for my personal growth.
This cultural shocks may happen even more when you live with other cultures because you can see them in daily life. I am talking about living in same apartment or room with other nationalities. I am experiencing Spainish and Polish friends in my daily life. Sometimes I find common things with Polish culture sometimes with Spanish culture as well. It gives me a chance to see my Turkish culture from outside of the box and everyday I am exploring new things in my life. This experiences are not all good some of them very challenging but if I learn how to handle with them I feel stronger.
I recommend everyone to experience new cultures, not only with travelling but living with other nationalities. I strongly recommend you to do EVS once in your life as well!