Hi! My name is Emma Pla and I have done a short-term EVS in Ankara, Turkey, from April 1 to May 31. I am eighteen years old and I live in Sant Cugat del Vallés. I decided to do a sabbatical year when I finished high school and I spoke with a friend who was in the same situation about these volunteering. As I wanted to travel, I took the opportunity. Now that I have been home for a few days I can surely say that volunteering was the best decision I have ever made.

During these two months I had the same schedule every week, but each day we did a different activity. On Mondays we only had Turkish class, an hour and a half at noon. On Tuesdays we worked in a school for three hours as English teachers. We combined grammar and games, always adapting to the level of the students. Wednesdays was office work, which meant preparing whatever we had to do during the week.

On Thursdays we visited a nursing home and organized activities for them, painting or sewing workshops, among others. We tried to interact with them as much as possible. In the afternoon, I taught Spanish to Turks, which I had prepared the day before. Finally, we spent Friday mornings in a cafeteria, preparing and serving coffee and chai. In the afternoon we had Turkish lessons again. The weekends were free.

For me, it was not the first time I traveled alone, but I had never been so long away from home or so far away. Although I was very excited to volunteer, I was also incredibly nervous. The first week I was a bit lost, but I quickly picked up the pace. There were some activities that I liked more than others and there were also days which were a little tough. But I was very motivated to try new things and learn. I believe that this is the positive thing of the EVS, that you are forced to leave your comfort zone.

As for the volunteers, the truth is that I could not have had more luck. We all connected immediately. Every day we went out together or went somewhere, along with all the other people we met in the two months of volunteering. We even made some trips to Turkey. Unfortunately, this also made the farewell the most difficult part.

Now that I look back on these two months, I can surely say that it has been the best experience I have ever had. Ankara is a very beautiful city, young, with many places to see and go out. I have always felt welcome and the Turks welcomed us with open arms. I have left with many good memories and friendships that I will have for many years.

I can’t recommend the European Volunteer Service enough to anyone who wants to travel or simply has nothing to do. The costs are minimal and it is the perfect opportunity to try different things and meet people from other countries. Do not let it go. I clearly will do another as soon as I can.