“Why you should go to Greece for Erasmus“
We left Slovakia as a group of four 17-18 years old unfledged teenagers. After we left the gates of the airport in Athens, we still did not realize the distance between us and everything back home. At this point there was no turning back, just the vast and beautiful sunny Greece in September and our confused faces trying to read departures of trains in Greek.
Sitting in a train to our new home we would wonder why we even signed for this hilarious thing.
The whole project, except for the weekend trips, we stayed in a village in the mountains called Kryoneri where we lived in a beautiful hostel called Elisson with literally the nicest staff I have ever encountered. We would often go to the local shops. We got to know the wonderful people living around here. We became close friends with other volunteers very quickly. I loved the weekend travelling but to be honest the best memories I have is just the simple life in the hostel with others, casually going to play basketball everyday, having naps after lunch through the siesta.
We worked at restoring historically important footpaths. What seemed to be easily done at first, turned out to be a pretty difficult job in the end. The difficulty lied in scorching temperatures you sometimes had to work in, working only with simple tools - your body will certainly feel the fatigue a lot more (that's why we had naps), but also working for few hours straight you had to learn how to use the tool you have effectively. You may ask what are the pluses on the other hand. Well, to feel sense of accomplishment after the work is done, to share your pains with others, to laugh together, when you are so tired it actually hurts, to create, overcome and take a walk in the last days through the footpaths and see what you worked on and what you managed to achieve. To hear randomly from your supervisor that: “Guys, today I took a walk through the whole footpath and I cannot seem to be amazed enough on what you achieved.“
We definitely had to learn how to survive as a group and stay together. It was not only that we had such nice people in our group but also that everybody showed effort and willingness to sustain.
About travelling… what can I tell you? It was amazing. We stayed in hostels. We added some new international friends into our collection. And I think also because of the time we spent there and with whom we spent it, we got a chance to see the real Greece and not just a tourist attraction.
Volunteering gave me an opportunity to meet wonderful people. And that is not a saying out of politeness. To work and create something meaningful. To learn how to take care of myself, my budget, my free time and my mental health.
If you are wondering whether to try volunteering or not, if you have the chance to go somewhere and you are wondering whether it is a good idea or not, I have just one thing to say that I learnt here:
"DON'T WONDER, DO IT!"
Slovak volunteers: Monika Poláčková, Michal Spiegel, Tomáš Molčán, Robo Krakovský