That moment when people are paying attention for the very first time all these details that they never considered before.
Matina is a M.Sc. Geologist who is currently working on her 12-month EVS programme in Biržai, in northern Lithuania. The hosting organization of her project is Biržai Regional Park and her activities are connected with the environmental preservation and natural heritage which the park itself includes, but also with the promotion of the organization to local commuity and the touristic part as well.
The most indifferent and insignificant streets around my house seem to be now the most special and picturesque, almost unique with such a great beauty. Then it is that time that I understand how much I really miss my ‘home’. But how can you define ‘home’? It might literally be that thing what the word itself means, this building, the place with its walls, the rooms, the flat of a building, your individual room, all these stuff and furniture you left there behind. It might also mean your neighborhood, the streets of your region you used to live, the center of your hometown, buildings and people. Your family, your friends, your favorite places to hang out. Or maybe all these things together or just some of them combined. Whatever that is, for each person it can be something totally different. But the main point, the result and bottom line is the same: this kind of feeling that something vital misses. This feeling of the absence of your ‘comfort zone’, or someone could say that it is that state of homesickness.
Moving to another place, another country for a significant time, whether that happens for studies, education, for professional purposes, for a new and different from previous ones beginning, sooner or later it arises that feeling of missing your previous regular routine in your life. It turns to be more visible then this absence of the life that stays behind at the very first home, the beginning line of each one. For the very first days when you restart your life in a place far away, you carry inside of you this excitement, maybe a little bit that sense of going on ‘vacation’. To be on vacation actually means that for a small period you stop having your usual routine. But when it comes this period to be way much longer in the new place where you end up, then all of a sudden you see that you acquire a brand new and totally different routine, new daily life and this new need for a home. And then that is the exact moment when you realize that you left behind your ‘home’.
For me, moving to Lithuania for my European Voluntary Service (EVS) program which lasts 12 months, gave me the opportunity to understand until the half of this period, what it means to have a real home. And this is how an EVS project can be a process of learning, not only the professional side of it but also through the real and different ‘way of living’ part of it. Thus, I realized what are the things that I missed mostly from my previous daily life but also what I don’t miss. Thus, through this declaration I figured out what I truly needed to change in my life. By seeking all these things I lost from my routine, helped me in making this great clarification related to the changes that I honestly want and need in my life, the changes that I can handle and what situations I would never like to live again. My changeover and transition to such a different place in the exact opposite side of Europe, showed me that I am fully able to live in any part of this planet as long as I never forget what I left behind and where I can go back again whenever I need that. I learned how to live in places with different streets, different neighborhoods, with new friends, people that I am now connected with, by any means. This kind of seeking my very first home had this amazing yet unique result on me: to create a brand new ‘home’ in that place where I ended up living the last many months. And when I leave that place, I am definitely sure that I will miss that too. But I surely know that I already created a second home for myself and I will feel free and comfortable to return to that as well. From now on I can say that probably I have a comfort zone in Greece and now a new one in Lithuania.
But then again, while I am thinking all these stuff I ask myself: maybe ‘home’ is the feeling of being comfortable in one place, no matter where? Maybe now, my comfort zone is not situated only in these specific places? Did I gain the ability to carry on me my comfort zone no matter where I end up? So, the home that I seek is my comfort. This comfort was given to me from my family, friends and familiar places. What I changed after this experience was to learn how to feel comfort with new faces, in new places.
Stamatia Karageorgiou European Voluntary Service vounteer, Erasmus + programme