A message showed up on my phone:

„Hi Arne, here is Mattes. […] Toni and Chris, the other two german volunteers, a turkish mentor and I will meet you at the airport on Sunday.”

Sunday. That’s only two days from now on. I’m sitting on my bed and thinking about my future. To be specific, about these two days. And about the time when these two days have passed. One year abroad. One year away from my family. From my friends and everything that I know and have grown fond of. It is a little bit unsettling and I feel, just a little bit, worried of going away from everything behind me. But even more I felt excited. Excited that it is at last now the time to start a new adventure. To pack the last things into my bag and enjoy my last two days in Berlin.

Hey, I am Arne, 18 years old and I come from Berlin in Germany. I just graduated from High school last summer. So there was I, finishing school. And now? I knew that I didn’t wanted to study right after my school. After one and a half years of online schooling I felt burned out. I needed to get out. To have a so called “Tapetenwechsel” in German, which means to leave the things you know behind and experience something new. So I decided to make a voluntary year. My first thought was to do it in Germany. But I didn’t really found projects that seemed to fit me. So my mother suggested to do one year abroad. So I looked for organizations in Germany who could send me abroad. What sounded like a really wonderful idea was very hard to organize in the beginning. I couldn’t find an organization where I could apply in summer and go abroad in in the same year (or at least in the beginning of the next year). And of course I didn’t apply early enough in my last school year to go abroad right after I finished school. But finally I found ICJA, a sending organization that also in the winter sends volunteers abroad. So I applied and was accepted. The whole applying process for the volunteer year was very strict and (sometimes) very stressful, because there wasn’t really much time left until I would leave home. So while I was working in a little shop (to earn and save some money for my year abroad) I always had to upload some documents or needed to go to some appointments with the government bureaucracy, which can get really annoying (but now I also know that this isn’t just specific to Germany). But everything worked out and I needed to choose where I wanted to go. The next big step on my way for a voluntary year. And finally the decision was made. I would go to İzmir. From now on with every week and every day I was more excited. The preparation seminar came and went by. And I started to pack my bag. And two days before my flight was about to go (of course I had to switch my flight because my first one was canceled) a message showed up on my phone: „Hi Arne, here is Mattes. […]”.

Two days later I woke up. The last time in my own bed for one year. I ate breakfast, thought about everything I packed (and what I could have forgotten, because I always forget something), grabbed my bag and went with my family to the airport. I said goodbye to everyone and went to my terminal (and of course my departure was delayed). After 3 hours of flight I landed in İzmir. Some more minutes I waited for my bag and then I stepped outside of the airport to start my volunteer year. It took me a little bit of time to orientate myself in the big crowd in front of the airport. But then there was a young man (who seemed a little bit familiar to me, because I have met him one time in an online call) asking me if I am Arne. And so I meet Chris, and just some moments later also Toni and Mattes. My first evening in İzmir. We went from the airport to our volunteer apartment to leave my bags there and then went to meet Demirkan and grab something to eat. Of course Mattes and Chris had made up some plans what they (have to) show me on my first evening. We ate İskender and afterwards we grabbed some Baklava. After a long, really exciting (and exhausting) day, I then finally fell asleep, very excited of what the time in İzmir will have for me.

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