Three months have passed since I received a stamp on the crossing of the Latvian border. Of course, it's not very much, but this time is the brightest, because you leave your comfort zone and fall into a completely different little universe (this is how I perceive other countries)… You refuse the usual things and you open for yourself an "otherness", that you try to adapt to yourself or yourself under it (that happens more often). And I can say that it is always interesting, but not always very fun :) However, it is the first checking for “flexibility” and… stress resistance :)
What do you know about Latvia? No, I'm seriously. For some reason I suspect that it is not a lot, and that knowledge is very stereotypical. So, honestly, you can forget everything. :) Life in a new country is like reading a kind of adventure novel… you never know what will happen on the next page :) And I like this feeling when you discover something strangely new to yourself in [by this time] the usual things. In the end of our first Latvian month, my colleague and I had already put together a list of the funny oddities for us in this country. By the way, my colleague is from Spain and for her all these things are weirder and everything is perceived several times more emotionally. Now, of course, all of these things are understandable and "accepted", but in the beginning, for us, Latvia was a country of slow buses, rain, “gift flowers” (not everyone will understand), of kissel (gelatin with farina porridge), peculiar parties, also “incomprehensible” language, trees and silent, but very kind people :)
Of course, I can write a lot of typical general facts about differences and commonalities in our cultures and blah blah blah, but I don’t want to do it, because it can be found online :) And, honestly, in the last three months I have lived at the same time in four different cultures, so writing such a long list clearly does not make much sense :) I'll just try to recall the highlights.
So… Have you ever ironed tree leaves? Did you ever bring dough onto the bus and then carry it all over the city? Would you ever have guessed, that “going to the website «lapsa»” - is to open a web browser Mozilla Firefox («lapsa» means "fox” in Latvian language) :) Yes, call me eccentric, but it was the second week of our Latvian life and we ironed leaves (don’t even ask why) and that's when we realized that «everything is a challenge» :D and even nowadays that quote is kind of our EVS motto.
You know, during these three months so many strange and interesting things have happened that I think I can’t remember everything… I cooked borsch about ten times, we did (it feels like) a million of various paper crafts with children; without musical education, I studied and played tunes for piano, tried to find a common language with seniors, taught English to children, we went to several events and not very successful ones, very "painfully" studied the Latvian language. And I forgot to tell you more about the languages… This is when you come to class, your Spanish colleague explains stuff in English, you translate it into Russian, and the teacher into Latvian… You understand, right? Sometimes, it just seems that your head will not survive those constant language changes and will explode (you still think in Ukrainian) :) "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger", they say? :D
And finally… what is EVS? I also didn’t know until I tried it :) It is very difficult to explain, so I will only say - it is the opportunity. The opportunity to understand yourself. The opportunity to understand how you love your country (or don’t). The opportunity to try to “breathe another air”. The opportunity to find something in their secretly hidden brain cells. The opportunity to learn how to do little miracles. The opportunity to open people and open yourself to the people...
Dana Ponomarenko, 22 years old, Lviv