My name is Giulia, I’m italian (exactly from the beautiful Sicily) and I’m working as a volunteer in the NGO ”System &Generation”.
I would like to share with you all the adventures that I had during these two months.
First of all, If you are also thinking about Turkey as choice for your EVS, just be prepared for a question that anyone (who is speaking English, and let me tell you: in Ankara is quite rare) will do to you: ‘’Why did you choose Turkey?’’.
Well, for me Turkey was my adventure, a new challenge that I had to face no matter what. Yes you’ve got it, a challenge, because since the exactly moment that I thought about the possibility to go in Turkey, I was afraid. I was afraid because of all the stereotypes that nowadays are integrant part of our society and that apparently make feel us safe, but actually they confine us in our comfort-zone without a way out. But I learned to know myself, and the one thing that, for sure, I don’t want to do is living with fear, so that’s what I always do: If I’m really afraid of an idea this is exactly the point I have to go, because if you do things you always do, you never change, there’s no way to go; but if you do the things you don’t know, the things you’re afraid of, something really different will happen. So this is my advice: don’t let the fear of what could happen make nothing happen.
So I did my luggage, I ignored all the fears that most of the people poured in me and I came in Turkey.
When I’ve just arrived to Istanbul’s airport all the fears that I thought I had drove away and the ones that weren’t even mine suddenly besieged me. At the passport control I noticed this harsh contrast between local women (completed cover in black, excepted for their eyes) and tourists. I thought: “ What I’m doing here?” ‘’I have to spend two months here? I can’t.”
A girl in particular caught my attention, I guess she should have been a year older than me. In that maze she passed in front of me a dozen times and every time her eyes, darker than the dress that she was wearing, were perforating me. I remember I was asking to myself what she was thinking about me, If she wanted to take off that dress, or if she already has accepted the “tradition” and every obligation that it brings. I wondered if her resignation was fueled by the fear of knowing something new, different, that always have been said to her to be wrong or some patriarchal rule impossible to change.
I wondered if, when she was speaking, her voice was drowned by her own outfit and was dying there, wrapped in all that black.
I wondered what that girl had to say, ’cause to me, just her eyes said all this.
But it’s when I went out from the airport that my adventure started.
Istanbul is something unique and it’s exactly there that I started slowly to fall in love with this country. Wondering in an unknown city, alone, is one of the things that I love most. I wont tell you all that I saw in this city (‘cause you have to see it with your eyes and live there your own experiences) but I will tell you one of the moment that I will always bring with me. It was the second and the last day in Istanbul, and after a tiring day passed to visit every corner of the city, I decided to see the sunset from the famous bridge that divide Istanbul in two parts (Europe and Asia). In that moment everything seemed to me new, the sun I’ve seen set hundred times, here in Turkey, was more red; the smell of the sea, that since I was little I was used to feel, in that moment was more intense and the sound of the seagulls louder than usual. I decided to enter in a mosque to see how was the atmosphere during the sunset. It was magical. A sunbeam was passing through the front door and the courtyard was barely illuminated by it. Everything was perfect.
My evs experience started in this way, in the best way we can say.
The trip to Ankara didn’t take so long, probably because I was so excited to start this new experience that I didn’t realize the 5-6 hours spent on the bus.
Ankara is completely different than Istanbul, incomparable and the first impression wasn’t so good, enormous palaces and chaos.
Since from your first day here in Turkey, you will learn that you can’t never refuse something that is offered, especially if it’s çay (typical tea that Turkish people drink at every time of the day, truly at every time, and even with 40 degrees under the shadow). I’ve learned it immediately when I entered home. A volunteer, Iva, was keep offering me, kindly, çay, and at my third ‘’No thanks, I’m ok” I had to give up. The funny thing is that Iva isn’t Turkish but after living for a long time here, she learned how to welcome a guest in the Turkish way, ‘cause let me tell you, no one knows better than them the meaning of the word “hospitality”. Wherever you’ll go, you will always find someone (even if he/she is not speaking English) ready to help you, and asking nothing in return. You’ll find people ready to open their house for you, to offer you their food, to invite you at the wedding of the friend of a friend, to show you the best places of their city, to give all the joy that they have. A week will be enough to love the warm Turkish people and to hate them for the way that they are driving (in this country, cross the streets will be one of the biggest risks that you have to deal with).
However this warm turkish behavior you’ll find, for sure, even in the office, for me S&G isn’t a simple organization but is like a family and work here is one of the experience that you’ll never regret.
My evs project is a short-term (two months), so because of the limited time that I knew I would have, I decided to see every weekend a different place. But it ended that for two weekends I’ve been in Cappadocia. For me it’s a really special place where a lot of unbelievable things happened. The first trip in Cappadocia made me reconsidered my idea of destiny. I can say that there I found friends for life and surely I will return there once more time before coming back in Italy.
I visited other places here in Turkey and each of them has a special place in my heart, but as I already said, during this two months, I discovered that the most important thing are the people: if you are surrounded by unique people, no matter where you are, you will spend great moments and have unforgettable memories with them.
My evs almost ends (this are my lasts days in Turkey) and right now, I’m just realizing how much this experience changed me: all the fears that I had before leaving my country aren’t anymore part of me, I feel stronger and more sure about my abilities,I learned a new culture and I’ve met different people from all over the world. After all I’ve been through I can say that this was one of the best experience of my life and if you are also thinking to do your evs here in Turkey, just remember: ”best journeys begin with a simple decision to go”.
EVS volunteer within the Erasmus + project “Many Opportunities Real Equality”
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