Labukas!!! My name is Rita and I am currently doing a European Voluntary Service in Kaunas, Lithuania.

I work as a volunteer at the Mes Kitokie Center (We Are Different), a center for children with special needs. The vast majority of children in the center are diagnosed with ASD, but we also work with children who come from unfavorable environments. My tasks are to help the nursery and take charge of the artistic activities, I also help in the art therapy activities.

Although at the beginning it was a bit difficult to adapt and understand how the center worked, with time and patience I have created links with the children of the center, I am always happy to arrive to the center and to be received with a hug! And although we do not speak the same language, through miming, drawings and google translator we understand each other quite well!

But EVS goes far beyond the project you work in; EVS is a personal path that enriches you and makes you grow up. At first, I thought everything would be very simple and I thought I was prepared for everything that came, but you cannot be prepared for an experience like this, not until you live it in your own flesh. That’s why I encourage everyone to take the step, to live this experience and be open to receive all kinds of surprises. You arrive in a foreign country, very different and with very different people. You arrive at a house and there you will live for almost a year with people who do not know about you, who can, as in my case, become like a family.

For me, one of the most important parts of this experience, not to mention the most important, is the people I am meeting and the connections I am creating. If it were not for my housemates: Paulina, Nina and Dorin, and my friend Alvaro, my stay in Lithuania would be much more gray and sad. I have had the immense luck of living in a house with people who despite being very different, are at the same time very similar to me.

Throughout these four months I have experienced very intense emotional experiences, which thanks to them have been easier to overcome. We spend many hours in the kitchen, chatting, eating and drinking and once a month we have a thematic night, we cook together and spend the night together listening to music, singing and laughing. These nights are my favourites and they are also the ones that unite us more and more. I have also lived my first experiences with snow! I have made my first snowman but the funniest part is when we make snowball wars on the roof of the house! Although I have to say that sometimes it is difficult to live in these conditions, I have already fallen three times down the street, but I am becoming an expert in cold and snow!

Personally, I believe that during these SVE I will create intense bonds that will go far beyond these months that I will be living here. I am sure that after this experience I will have great friends in different parts of Europe.

Another important part of this experience is travelling. I love to travel and to know other places; one of my dreams is to travel all around the world! And EVS is a great opportunity to explore the neighbouring countries where you live. So far, with my housemate but also travel and experience buddy, Paulina, I have travelled to Riga and Warsaw, but we still have many more plans and many more destinations to discover!

If you are reading this is that you are probably considering doing an EVS or just feel curious. So my recommendation is that you do not waste your time, if you have the opportunity, do it, live this experience. No matter where you go, simply choose a project where you believe that you can grow personally and be surprised by the people you will meet and the experiences you will live. Your expectations will never be enough, let life give you surprises.

Do not fear, I’m sure that whatever the experience ends up being, it will be a great opportunity to grow, mature, and know a little better who you are. And above all, take the time and be aware that one of the most important parts of your experience will be the people you will meet and the impact they will have on your life.