Two months ago I started a new adventure in my life. There are two important things that you should know about it. First, it is European Volunteer Service (EVS) Programme. Second, it is going in the Netherlands. During this time I have already got a plenty of wonderful working and lifetime experience.
I work at Humanitas DMH. It is a social care organization which helps to people with mental and light physical disabilities. This is a really important work I enjoy myself with. Actually, you can enjoy with everything in a daily Dutch life, except a rainy and windy weather. But let me tell all in order.
Today I live in Lunteren – such a typical Dutch town. The first impression was charming. Nice architecture style, polite and smiley people, stroopwafels and other unusual groceries – everything was really fine. On the other hand, I had some homesick feelings. It was a bit difficult to get used to new life conditions without family and friends close by. But one-two weeks and you feel good. I have three careful flatmates from Germany, another volunteers from ‘the big apartment’, where can happen some sudden and crazy things, and the other volunteers from De Glind – a small village near to the town, and the best coordinator in the whole Netherlands. You cannot feel alone or forgotten, because you have no chance for that.
Another reason to be happy is work. I work in a small village near to Utrecht where usually nothing happens, in the strict sense of the term. Though it is good for clients of Humanitas – less anxiety and stress. Of course, it is hard sometimes to find a proper way for contact with them. But in general it is going well. My routine tasks are cooking, cleaning, playing games, shopping, walking, etc. Everything is doing for clients and with clients (!).
Do not think that is boring, we also have events in ‘our kingdom’. For example, I travelled with a few clients and co-workers to Limburg some time ago. We had an amazing time all together. Additionally I organised Ukrainian Cultural Week. During this week I cooked Olivier Salad and Soup with 'Galushkami' for clients, plus, I held an evening event with Ukrainian traditional dances, music, and a language workshop. In this way I improve all kind of communication skills.
However, I have another problem with communication at work – not all clients can speak English. That is why I need to learn Dutch language as fast as possible. Unfortunately, it is impossible (for me). Because Dutch is a notoriously difficult language for understanding and spelling. For instance, can you try out to say this one phrase – “Gelukkige verjaardag”? If it is not hard for you, so the Netherlands is waiting for you. But I like both language and culture. Dutch people are out-going and hospitable. If I have a trouble in a shop, for example, I cannot understand a difference between two almost similar package of flour, so I need to stop first person near to me and ask, believe me, everybody will try to help you with a big smile on the face. No rudeness or boorishness. And you can meet this kind of attitude in all parts of the Netherlands.
I have already travelled to Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague, Utrecht, Arnhem, Zwolle, Groningen, Leeuwarden, and Limburg. So I can vouch for my words. In this way I spend my free time – exploring the Netherlands and Dutch culture. Next year I hope to expand the area of my travelling to South Europe.
I appreciate to have this opportunity with EVS – spending one year in such an amazing country, doing such an interesting work, and getting such an important experience. I still have ten additional months to reopen Dutch mentality, travel across Benelux and other European countries, and arrange new activities and events for the best people from Humanitas. To be continued...
Taras Syvukha, 23 years old, Kharkiv