‘At first I didn’t think it would be possible to find an EVS placement that was related to my studies, but when I started searching the database I found that there were projects on all kinds of themes – from environment and education to culture and sport’
Applying to do an EVS project was the best decision I could have made after graduation. With a degree in Creative and Cultural Studies, but not much relevant experience, I jumped at the chance to gain valuable skills and work experience while living abroad.
At first I didn’t think it would be possible to find an EVS placement that was related to my studies, but when I started searching the database I found that there were projects on all kinds of themes – from environment and education to culture and sport. After sending my motivation letter to several organisations all over Europe, I was accepted by the Estonian Printing Museum to work on Cultural Operations and Management Experience.
When I arrived in Estonia I was immediately smitten with my new home. The Estonian Printing Museum is based in the city of Tartu, which is a beautiful, cosy city full of students, and the museum was housed in a building that was a hub for artistic and cultural activities. This made settling in and meeting people really easy. Getting to grips with the workings of my host organisation was my first priority, and luckily there was another EVS volunteer who had been there for six months already who helped me a great deal in the first few weeks. A huge part of my activities involved assisting in printmaking workshops, so I had to learn how to use the tools in the museum – antique printing presses and paper cutters, rows and rows of wooden and metal letters and compositing techniques which were new and exciting to me. The work was very varied, and I was constantly doing new things and meeting interesting people. As well as organising workshops and events, I worked on a international artist residency program. My host organisation was the lead partner in a program funded by the city council to host several artists in different organisations around Tartu. This meant liaising with artists who had applied to the program – from print-makers to dancers, writers and sound artists. I helped to coordinate their stay with our local partners, which was a fantastic way to get to know other organisations around the city. A condition of the funding was that there had to be a proven outcome to each of the residencies, so we hosted exhibitions, performances and workshops at the end of each artist’s stay. It was really satisfying to be part of that – making a difference and being part of a community, even when miles from home, is a great feeling.
During an EVS placement, the National Agency of the host country arranges training on arrival and midway through the project. This is really nice opportunity to meet other volunteers and discuss your placements. It also gives you a chance to take a step back from your day to day work to think about what you have achieved on your project and set some goals for the future, to make sure you get the most out of your EVS experience.
Anybody thinking about doing an EVS placement should go for it! You get the chance to live and work in another country, gain new skills, and learn so much about yourself. All the while you are making a huge difference to the community you are working in. The application process might seem daunting at first, but it’s such a great opportunity that more people should know about.