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V tem šolskem letu v EPI-ju gostimo kar tri prostovoljce. Med njimi je tudi mlada Nizozemka Ilse. V spodnjem zapisu z nami deli kako je preživela prve 3 mesece svojega prostovoljskega projekta. Vabljeni k branju.


So my journey in Slovenia started at home. If you know me, you know I’m a bit of a list freak when I pack my suitcase. I had everything planned and was almost ready to go. The night before I left, I was at the movies with my friends. After the movies I was biking home and got in an accident. “Perfect timing” was my first thought haha. That did ruin my planning a little bit and I got really tired. So I didn’t notice much on the airplanes to Slovenia, because I was sleeping all the time. 

When I arrived at the airport I saw that there were only three other airplanes arriving that day. Clearly Corona time. Martina picked me up in Trieste, or Trst in Slovenian (Charlotte didn’t believe Slovenian people really write it that way for real), because everyone else was ill and drove me all the way to Lucija. We did a detour, because we didn’t want to pass any police officers, which I actually didn’t mind at all. Slovenia is a really pretty country and I could see a lot of it from the car. On our way to Slovenia we did groceries in Italy, where I bought some weird, but good pasta. When we were in the supermarket I was really shocked by the prices of the products. I thought it was really expensive, but Martina told me it was even more expensive in Slovenia. Then I came to the realisation that in the Netherlands we don’t eat out often, we eat more in. On each corner is a supermarket. Food in The Netherlands is just cheap hahah. 

When we got to the apartment Martina helped me carry my suitcases four stairs high! By the way hvala for that Martina 🙂

The first day in Slovenia I rested just because I was really tired of the accident and the travel. I looked around a little bit in Lucija and found the Mercator. I think in the Netherlands you also have a Mercator, only with a different name: Albert Heijn. Both very modern supermarkets and the most expensive.

Charlotte’s birthday was soon after I had arrived. Sadly Charlotte was still feeling ill, so she couldn’t do much. Martina and I decided to buy a lot of vegan chocolates for Charlotte, which was fun, I think there is still some left in the kitchen. I hope you liked them Charlotte.

In the first few weeks I got settled in the Epi center in Lucija. It was really fun to get to know some of the children, they even taught me some sentences in Slovenian, which are really useful. Like “Kako si?” and “Jaz sem Dobro”, even though I think I still don’t pronounce them right. “Hvala” took me a century.

I started to teach English to Gal, Sara and Mija. In the beginning they didn’t seem to understand me at all, but I think that has changed now. I like to make games for them to make the learning process more fun.

As soon as Charlotte got better we could visit the other volunteers. We could also go to Koper which we were able to as Charlotte has her own car, which is really chill! We went to a bar and I drank my first Laško, which I like more than Heineken haha.

Charlotte and I decided to do a language challenge with Matjaz, Gabriel and Alastair. Charlotte found some videos that were about words from another language. It was actually really funny and I don’t think the other volunteers will forget the word “pindakaas” anytime soon. We filmed this video the day before the restrictions got worse and from then on we weren’t allowed to visit the other volunteers anymore.

On-arrival training online

My on-arrival training was a little bit different from the normal one. You probably already guessed why: Corona. Because of Corona we had to do it online on Zoom and before the organisation decided to do it online, it got cancelled.

The training started on the 9th of November and lasted until the 13th of November. All the volunteers who are new in Slovenia and working currently in Slovenia were at the training. I luckily already knew one other volunteer, which made it easier for me to adjust.

Beforehand we all got a package from the mentors, Urška and Aljaž, who were hosting the Zoom meetings. In the package were slippers, headphones, a cookie and more.

At the training we didn’t do any normal exercises like we would do if the training wasn’t online.

In the beginning we did exercises to get to know each other. The mentors put us often in different rooms, which made it easier to get to know one another. We had to discuss questions and we could answer the questions anonymously in a powerpoint. Just like you can see in the second picture.

Eventually we were put in a group and we had to make a project that would help the community with that group. My group thought of giving out food to people in need and called our organisation Intercook. We came up with the name by mixing with words. Inter for international, because we want to give food that is typical from our home countries. And cook because we will make the food with cooks. Especially in these times people are in need of some extra help.

The mentors were really helpful and would take time to answer all your questions.

At the end of the training we had to write a letter to our future selves and put in a postbox. The planning is that the mentor will send it somewhere in 2021, which will be interesting.

All the volunteers shared their list of contacts, so we’ll be able to have contact after the training. We have a whatsapp group and are planning on doing online games some time soon.

It got pretty boring after a while not visiting and meeting other people. A day in my life would exist out of this:

Usually the day starts off by waking up between nine and ten o’clock in the morning. If it is Monday or Wednesday I post a poster about English vocab on the instagram story of the instagram account of the Mladinskiepicenterpiran. 

I catch up on the news through my phone, drink some water, take my medicine and put on my jogging pants. I try to go for a run as often as possible, which I’m really bad at hehe.

I always run next to the sea and the same route, just because it’s a really pretty view. I can never get enough of the sea and mountains in Slovenia. While I’m running I’ll always listen to a podcast. When I’m done running I take a shower at the apartment which really wakes me up. I usually don’t eat the same breakfast everyday just because it gets very boring for me fast. This morning I ate an apple with oatmeal and cinnamon, really simple and really yummy. 

After this I try to do some Slovenian homework before the Slovenian lesson starts at twelve o’clock. Charlotte and I have the Slovenian lesson from Simon or Lada until one o’clock. 

Sometimes in the afternoon I go to the supermarket and do the groceries, go on a hike with Charlotte or prepare the English lesson for Wednesday. In the evening I prepare dinner and watch a movie or read a book after. Sometimes Charlotte and I prepare meals for each other from our home countries. One time I made for example the traditional Dutch Stamppot. I made it for the first time, but it tasted fine to me.

Later in the evening Charlotte and I sometimes socialise with the other volunteers who live in Koper. We play online games like Skribbl a lot.

Boring right?

Charlotte and I decided to go back home for a while, because we wanted to see our families and friends again for Christmas. We decided to go home for a month, because of the quarantaine rules. Luckily or sadly this was possible, because we could do everything from home.

The day before we left Slovenia we finished up our last chores and I tried to go to bed early (didn’t really work out though). The next morning we left Slovenia early in the morning. On our way back we saw a lot of snow, which I really liked, because the view was really pretty, but the road was not that nice especially in the beginning. When we arrived at Charlotte’s house, I stayed for the night and the next day I went back to The Netherlands by train. I’ve got to say the Dutch trains are better organised hahah.

In the end I hope my friends and family will be able to visit me in 2021 and that we can travel again.

Ilse Hover, ESE prostovoljka