“Even if you know what’s coming, you’re never prepared for how it feels.”Natalie Standiford, How to Say Goodbye in Robot
Being almost 3 months in Finland, a quarter of time passed. Time passed very quickly. Too quickly. A lot happened. Many changes took place.
Many people struggle nowadays. Those are tough times because we are taken out of our routines we are used to.
For (international) volunteers it is hard as well leaving the community, culture, language behind to find new ways. But possibilities are rare or even non-existent. A lack of belonging somewhere might be the feeling – the distance to the own country might be huge, the distance to a social life in your hosting country as well.
The most common way of communication concentrates on social media or online platforms.
Staying connected is very important in order to let your thoughts and feelings go. Not only in times of physical distancing but in times of losing your familiar surroundings for a certain time.
Exchange is much more than just stay connected. It is about learning from each another and experiencing similarities and differences.
Why is exchange key during my volunteering?
Even if I really enjoy the surrounding and beautiful nature in Nurmes, it is not completely possible for me to adapt the Finnish stereotypical lifestyle of enjoying and remaining silent.
Keeping silent about the experiences I am making and the challenges I am facing is not an option for me, neither for others. You might start struggling because the challenges you are facing cannot completely solved on your own. It is good to take advice from others or listen to their experience in similar situations.
Staying in contact with family and friends is a very good option to speak about everything that comes to your mind and you would like to share. Sometimes experiences do not match because your friends and family might not understand your personal experiences you have made abroad. Sometimes they do not have the same time slots during the day to listen to your learnings and discoveries.
In international context it might be more useful to find exchange with other volunteers and independent people you are surrounded by in your daily work. Exchange is not only about finding someone you might share your feelings and thoughts, but it might also mean that you can help someone to speak about his/her struggles and give some advice or share experience.
Different mentalities and experiences might help evaluating situations and behaviour from different perspectives. Especially, by considering cultural differences. It is overall a chance for self-development.
Everyone should have the possibility to freely exchange with others to find mates going through the same situation. It is not about complaining and getting dragged down. It is about chances to find interesting topics to share with another person.
Whenever you feel lonely or demotivated, please do not hesitate to contact us. We would be glad to have exchange with YOU!