Kako je biti na EVS-u u Puli (i puno putovati)
Zaigi i Kseniji, EVS volonterkama Udruge ZUM mjesec lipanj bit će zadnji kojeg će provesti u sunčanoj i toploj Puli. Prisjetimo se malo kako im je bilo prije par mjeseci, kada su bile na sredini svoje EVS avanture. A ako te zanima volontiranje u inozemstvu, neke bitne informacije nalaze se OVDJE.
Questions that should be answered…
By: Zaiga Zirnite
I have to admit that it has been a while since my last article here and a lot has happened during that time. The winter is gone and the sun, as well as people, are finally found in the city of Pula. Time has flown in the speed of light and already more than half of my European Voluntary Service (EVS) in Croatia is over. But I truly believe that time is flying for those people who are satisfied with their life choices and enjoy each moment that life is bringing, so I consider myself one of them.
In the past few months I had the opportunity to meet a lot of people and was surprised that many of you have asked me almost the same question - “why”? Why did I choose to take part in EVS, why did I came to Croatia instead of another country and why do I volunteer? Let me explain it.
First of all, I decided to join EVS because the Erasmus+ program offered me an opportunity to challenge myself in several ways.
So far I have tried to apply my theoretical university skills in practice and became aware of some of my strengths and weaknesses. In February my colleague Ksenia and I successfully submitted our first youth exchange project “EcoMotion” to the Croatian National Agency. I have learned how to live more independently by learning how not to spend all my monthly budget in the first 2 weeks and improved my experimentation and cooking skills in the kitchen. I have also broadened my horizons while getting familiar with different cultures and noticed new features about my own culture. “Time is money” is the exact saying about Latvians and if you are still wondering, then no - WE DO NOT HAVE 6 TOES!!! Anyways, I have also experienced travelling with my friends and on my own as much as the budget allowed me. So far I have visited places such as Fažana, Vodnjan, Bale, Rovinj, Pazin, Poreč, Novigrad, Motovun, Hum, Labin, Rabac, Opatija, Rijeka, Orahovica, Zagreb, Zadar, Split, Dubrovnik as well as Trieste and Ljubljana and till the end of my service I hope to see some more.
When it comes to the question why I decided to do my EVS in Croatia I have several reasonable explanations in mind.
Most of all, I could say that I choose Croatia because of my curiosity towards your culture and nature. Before I didn’t have a chance to visit it and your language, people, traditions and way of living was something new for me that I wanted to discover. I really do enjoy Croatia, especially Istria! “Polako, polako” marenda time of day with delicious coffee and pastry from the closest pekara is not typical for Latvians at all. A chocolate croissant and kava za šlagom is now a perfect start of my day here. Your country holds an amazing natural capital - great weather, crystal clear sea, many enjoyable beaches and diverse sea creature world. When going to buy a fish to the open market it still feels like an excursion to me. You have many admirable views where the sea meets the mountains and islands as, for example, the top of mount Učka, Vojak, that is 1396m high. Don’t judge because I’m coming from the country where the highest peak is 312m. I am glad to admit that after several months I finally got used to your metric system in the shops and are able to handle weather when bura or jugo are in the neighbourhood.
And finally, I decided to volunteer because for me it is important to find myself in a working field that allows me to achieve my full potential and makes me and others motivated and inspired. Before joining EVS I realized that the salary wasn’t the main motivational factor in my job any longer and I didn’t want to waste my time doing something that didn’t made me happy. I believe that through volunteering using non-formal education methods I am on the right way to figure it out. So far I can assure you that I have enjoyed the work with youth, had a chance to implement my ideas and grow as a person. Thank you, Udruga ZUM, for a ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunity! ☺
Pula, Udruga ZUM
Croatia from the other side
By: Ksenia Dubova
Do you wanna hear about life in Croatia from a different perspective? Not from a tourist point of view; only from personal experience gained living in Pula for five months.
In October 2016 I, a 21 years old girl from Ukraine, started to volunteer in ZUM Association in Pula and it became an opportunity not only to live and volunteer abroad, but also to travel!
Over five months of volunteering I visited the old walls of King's Landing-Dubrovnik; drank Turkish coffee in Sarajevo; saw a bunch of tourists trying to "hold" the Leaning Tower of Pisa; hiked in Slovenia… and that's not all.
Let me tell you more about my experience in your country and the cultural differences I noticed.
I’ve already been to all regions of Croatia. I was frozen at -20 degrees on Plitvice lakes. I heard the sea organ in Zadar during strong bura. I walked on the walls of Dubrovnik just after the New Year. I also saw how crazy Croatian people can be during the carnival in Rijeka.
You can say that all of these places are quite touristic and it is true, but all of my travels were during wintertime.
That’s why I also saw empty streets and even empty towns in Istria, went by train to Slavonia, hiked mountains near Zagreb and tried to swim on Krk island.
Cities: incredible-in-the-summer-and-dead-in-the--winter Pula, party Rijeka, fancy Split, busy Zagreb and expensive Dubrovnik. I love all of them because of their unique atmosphere. For example, I can see how Pula is changing during the seasons. When spring is coming with the shining sun and blossoming trees, people are becoming more welcoming too.
And do you know what I’m gonna tell you? Your country is amazing, full of incredible places and hidden opportunities, so try not to sit at home all the time. Go out and explore!
They. Are. Amazing. The Adriatic sea is extremely clean. You can even spend the first part of your day diving near the islands, followed by hiking in the mountains. Sounds like paradise, doesn’t it?
Sorry guys, but that’s the thing I really don’t like in Croatia. Your transport system is expensive and slow. And I have so many crazy experience with buses here, that I feel like writing a whole book about it.
Thus comes the following topic.
Believe me, it’s faster than buses! And don’t be afraid, people are friendly and always ready to help. I already hitchhiked in Istria, Dalmatia and central Croatia. It was fast, safe and full of adventures! And I met not only Croatian drivers, but also Bosnians, Italians, and even Russians. The last one saved me from freezing when I was waiting near Plitvice and afterwards bought me an ice-cream ;)
Your schedules do not dictate your lives. Your lives dictate your schedules. Polako-polako… Isn’t it? You really like to take the time and enjoy your coffee. Or to drink beer. Or to talk with your friends. The rest of the world can wait.
Small advice: try to take important things a little more seriously and don’t hate your neighbors ;)
Last but not least are food and drinks. Because I’m vegetarian, I didn’t try sarma or maneštra. But I ate istarski fuži with truffles, zagorski štrukli, kroštule and fritule. Yummy. And, of course, coffee (read the part about the mentality again) and rakija.
That’s how I see Croatia - full of contrasts.
Therefore, my young readers, believe me - travels are the best teachers! They broaden your mind, develop cultural empathy and give us a better understanding of the world.
Learn, have fun and keep going,