I just realised that reaching my 7th month in Turkey makes my ESC the longest stay abroad in my life (the previous longest one was half a year on Erasmus in Belgium). That is why I decided to make a small summary of how I changed during this remarkable period of time – and most of the changes are, naturaly, still ongoing, the process is not finished – so I hope for more to come 🙂

This is a lovely surprise birthday party that my colleagues from Pi Youth Association organized for me. It was still in the times of coronavirus lockdown, but as you can see I did not at all feel alone 🙂 Everytime I look at this picture, I truly feel I am a part of this community. And I love this feeling.

Becoming less reserved and more spontaneous

I have a slight inclination for being a bit more introvert then extrovert; from what I know, this is normal for Northern nations. Spending 7 months in a country where people are far more open to each other (especially when it comes to strangers – I do not want to create an image of Polish people being antisocial, far from it – we are very open towards friends and friends of friends, but not always share that much with strangers) also influenced my mindset. I have become more willing to share my stories with people I do not know this well and stopped fearing that they might use it against me. I am also learning to be more spontaneous and stop plan everything – there is something about unplanned activities, that you always enjoy them more, as you did not create any expectations prior to living those moments. I am living more in the present moment here and I think I will not let it go once the project is finished.

Daring to speak out about what I consider important

Being a part of the civil society organization full-time (I have been volunteering ever since I am 17, but these were always additional activities in my timetable) have been helping me to become an active citizen. You know, I have always been voting in the elections and trying to keep myself updated with the news, as well as volunteering in my free time, but that was different. During those 7 months – especially 3 last ones, as I was staying at home and had a lot of time for thinking many things through – I developed a will to express my views and stand for what I find important. I not only started to be more active in the social media, but also suggested some “engaged” subjects for our speaking clubs, that we still hold with Martyna. And it worked out really well – it was fascinating to hear from our participants what they think and discover that they have a very broad knowledge about many societal, environmental or economic issues.

Discovering a sense of leadership inside of me

I have been already mentioning that I was given a great opportunity to have my own micro-project for the time of my ESC; it is called Move Youthwise and every month, I am discussing an important component of youthwork with my team of motivated young people. The idea of the project was born in my head as I have been thinking about becoming an accredited Erasmus+ trainer and I need to have experience in leading activities to be eligible for training of trainers. Move Youthwise started in January and I cannot express how much I enjoy coordinating activities and brainstorming together with the team. In fact, I have discovered – to my great astonishment, as I was always afraid of considerable responsibility and making big decisions – that I have a leadership spirit, which was hidden deep inside me for all those years; to be entirely true, it started to show up shortly before my ESC, but this time has allowed me to make it grounded and simply enjoy it.

Learning to ask for support

This lesson is the most difficult for me – and I feel I did not entirely pass it yet 🙂 which explains why it is placed at the end of this collection of thoughts. I have had many discussions with Martyna on how asking for help is … not natural for our culture. We were of course taught to be helpful and supportive, but in the same time we heard many times how it is important to be able to deal with our problems ourselves, as a part of being independent. And it can be of course very positive – but somehow it can also arise to be a source of fear and lack of trust in others. Being for some time now exposed to different type of culture – not only Turkish, as I have also experienced support from my friends from other countries and staying here – I am now trying to conserve the drive of being independent, but in the same time not be afraid of asking for help. This way, you can experience not only being more calm, but as well the incredible joy of “returning” the favour and helping someone that once supported you – and this can go on and on in circles 🙂

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