So, you’re sitting and listening to Lera’s fervent tales about her summer adventures in a German volunteer camp, about SCI and its opportunities, about how cool/splendid/incredible/marvelous her trip was.
You’re sitting and thinking that Ukraine is good, the Work&Travel is better, but you haven’t crossed the European threshold ever.
You’re sitting and listening to the noise of the first September rain. And from a window you can see but the same familiar views of Kharkiv, grey dormitories and despondency.
Three months later you eventually Google search the three cherished letters “SCI” (afterwards you are to confuse them or mispronounce in an attempt to boast about it to your friends, and six months later you will give this name to a proprietary cocktail).
The first catchy camp is the Waldorf School near Vienna. And you, fortunately, don’t confuse Austria with Australia (hello, Alex) but thoroughly enumerate your skills in your CV. And don’t forget to keep your fingers crossed when sending the application.
At the very beggining you fear that you will not be enrolled. You’re thrilled to bits to have received the sacred invitation. Then, there comes the fear of not getting a Schengen visa. Being a citizen of a non-EU country, you put your hands to the paperwork with superfluous seriousness.
August comes unexpectedly fast and brings the awareness of a venture-to-be: alone, in the German environment, among strangers… What if I can’t do it? What if there are conflicts, misunderstandings?
And now you’re standing on the platform of Laobersdorf station and scrutinize the lively crowd with suitcases. Without any doubt, you come up to your future international family and greet them with a sincere smile. This moment is what you will often replay in your mind trying to recall their faces, all the features that first caught your eye.
The first week rushes by as if one hour of a good movie: fascinating, in a bright kaleidoscope of events and exciting discoveries.There are so many pleasant memories that have nothing to do with the actual volunteer work. It seems like there is no work at all.
Sleepy breakfasts with Nutella, tiresome daytime heat and icy coolness of the river, which you generally enjoy unwillingly all dressed up (hello, Arnaldo), warm cozy nights with a million of philosophic thoughts in the night silence at candlelight.
The food deserves a special mention. Everyday you relish the world alimentary masterpieces made with your own hands and infinite love. Here you have traditional Spanish tortilla, Italian pasta, vegetarian Belgian sandwiches vs. American grilled cheese, borshch and Russian pizza, Czech strudel vs. tiramisu and many other refinements. A special treat was a bowl of Taiwanese chili soup which might have turned you in a fire-breathing dragon.
The second week is rainy Vienna and guitar playing at the campfire “Counting stars” and improvised singing about each of you. In the midweek you comprehend nirvana through specific meditation, yoga and girlish talks.
The most long-expected weekend in the Alps showers you with adventures, reasonable exhaustion and a romantic sunset in the mountains. After seven hours of climbing up and down, you may doubt the existance of your own legs, enjoy your morning sandwich and take a great delight in contemplating divine views of the Alps.
You try to take the best advantage of your last days in the camp: looking into each others’ eyes, holding hands, hugging, laughing and memorizing some special jokes, supporting each other and keeping silence — all together.
To sum up:
The most pleasant thing was accumulating memories.
The most frightening thing was to forget important details.
The most desirable thing was to see the team together again.
The morale is to be a realist and try new experiences, never expect too much, never regret what’s done or gone, and be more confident enough to commit unexpected deeds.
Get active, be a volunteer!