I’m Urszula (shortly Ula), I’m 19 years old and my home country is Poland 🙂 Since beginning of September I’m in Izmir as a volunteer in Pi Youth Association.
In Poland, I graduated from a German high school in Kalisz. It was not an easy task, and for four years I was more focused on surviving than thinking about the future. I couldn’t decide if I should cultivate my passion for languages and go to language studies or do what I enjoy most, which is social work. Plus, my dad was very insistent that I should try apply for a children psychology. I was totally lost. I really like each of these courses, but I was afraid I’d drop it in the first month. So I decided to do a gap year and try to work in these areas. I was looking for volunteer offers that would be related to my interests and I found it!! The project in Izmir corresponded perfectly to my needs. So I sent my CV, got the interview, packed my suitcase and found myself here – in Izmir, the third largest city in Turkey.
My family and I were a little scared how I will find myself here. Poland and Turkey are very different culturally. Luckily, it turned out I had nothing to worry about. Already on the first day I felt very cared. The Turkish people, are very hospitable and helpful. Even if they do not speak English, they will do everything to share their family atmosphere with u! I really appreciate it!
We started work in the first week. We promoted our organization on a fair in Kültürpark. I don’t think I could have imagined a better start. It was a great opportunity to get to know the people of Izmir and get to know their culture.
Despite everything, September was very recreational, we visited a lot, got to know local places, got used to the new place of work and did all the formalities. I was reading the future from coffee (very successful!), every day I was fascinated by cats on the street, which you can pet at any time (In Poland you have to buy a cat). Public transport was also a big shock for me. (I love going by ferry!) and how big Izmir is. In Poland, Wrocław, I was used to getting everywhere by direct bus or tram. Here I have to change a lot and almost never get anywhere directly. In Izmir my apartment is far from Kasia’s apartment about 10 km. To get there I have to spend about 1,5-2 hours on the trip. That is exactly the same as in Poland. Only that in Poland from Kasia’s apartment (Lódź) and mine (Wrocław) we are 220 km apart.
It was also a time of getting to know each other and building relationships between us- volunteers. Especially when we had to stay locked in the four walls of our apartment due to the coronavirus,which decided to visit us.
At the beginning of October we also went to Afyon, for training organized by NA. It was awesome! We had the opportunity to meet volunteers from all over Turkey, with whom we maintain contact to this day.
Our workshops also started in October. It was a test month. We got to know our participants, we learned how to run these type of workshops and what we do wrong. I’m very grateful for this because thanks to it I discovered that I do not have lightness in working with adults but I’m really great with children! That’s why November is probably my favorite month! I run all my workshops with children. I love it! They are very positive, always smiling and ready for a new dose of knowledge. They call me “Abla” which melts my heart:) In Turkey it is very easy to become a distant family. And as a Polish, I am really jealous about it, because in Poland it is hard to feel such a family atmosphere as in Turkey.
As you’ve probably noticed, I’m delighted with my time here. I love all the volunteers, thanks to whom I learn something new every day and experience cultural differences. Thanks to French volunteers (and my lovely roommate) I can have a smalltalk in French like a real Frenchwoman!
My German has also improved a lot, thanks to daily conversations with German volunteers! I am very grateful for all the people I have met here so far and for all these three months!