Nataniel Williams is currently on his EVS placement at The American Chamber of Commerce in Chișinău, Moldova. Here is his first blog post.
The Maldives? No, Moldova…
Bună Ziua – Gooday/Hello
La Revedere – Goodbye
Noroc! – Cheers!
Vă rog – Please
Mersi/Mulțumesc – Thank you
Scuzați – Excuse me
Buna Ziuă! Gooday from Chisinau! Chisinau, I hear you say? Where is this place? The Maldives? These are some of the questions I heard when I told people I was moving to Moldova, a small country in Eastern Europe (sandwiched between Romania and Ukraine) in the middle of winter – and not to the tropical paradise that is The Maldives!
My name is Nataniel (Nate) and I am currently an EVS Volunteer in Chisinau, Moldova. Already you may be thinking why Moldova (at least everyone in Moldova asks me this question!) and how did I come to do an EVS project here? All will be revealed in good time…
I came to hear about EVS by accident; one of my flatmates from a few years ago actually worked for the EU promoting some of the Erasmus+ projects and instilled an idea – to do an EVS project abroad, where basic living costs are covered by EU funding! This idea remained dormant until I left university and realised that I needed to do something with my life! To cut a long story short, I found out about IVSGB (shout-out to them) and applied and voila, I’m here!
When I applied, there was the initial “what did I get myself into…?” and I felt like I was diving into the deep end; but looking back after 3 months I can already say that whereas it has been a dive, I haven’t drowned! I am lucky to work for The American Chamber of Commerce in Moldova (AmCham), which although involves a lot of hard work, has been so far very rewarding! In my first two weeks of arriving I was already attending Networking Cocktails and Business Breakfasts with VIPs – not to mention enjoying the free wine from one of our sponsors!
AmCham President and Executive Team
Although it is in name a Chamber of Commerce, by practice it is one of the largest advocacy and lobbying groups in Moldova, petitioning for better governance and giving advice to the government on how to introduce new laws that are in line with EU legislation. And that brings me to my first piece of advice if you are already considering to do an EVS project: choose one that is appealing to you. I must confess, I didn’t choose to come to Moldova because I thought it would be an interesting country; rather I chose the project and I have enjoyed almost every minute of it so far.
Learning is lifelong
I know that heading sounds like such a cliché, but coming to Moldova has reaffirmed for me how true this statement is. Every new experience that you encounter, especially ones outside of your comfort zone or home environment, prepares you for those unexpected ones that you might encounter later on in life and provides you with a new perspective on how to solve and approach different circumstances that you may face.
I made it to Kiev!
One of my toughest moments so far in Moldova was when I became ill, and after a day of undergoing various examinations at the hospital I was given enough prescription medicine for what seemed like 3 people and ordered to stay home for 3-4 days – or basically until I felt well enough to go out. This all came during a stressful period when in one month AmCham had to produce its’ Annual Report, and we had to prepare for our biggest event of the year our Annual AGM. I also was supposed to go on EVS training in Ukraine in less than a week, and for me being sick was more than a huge inconvenience; at the time it seemed like the end of the world! But with some support from my flatmates and family back home, and after four days of taking medication, I (still unwell) made it to Kiev! In Moldova, things work and run at a different pace of life; and being able to accept that sometimes things may not always be able to go as planned; but being able to relax enough to allow for these moments and persevere regardless is a valuable experience that I am already able to take from my EVS experience!
EVS has not only allowed me to be able to participate in a great project but has also enabled me to connect with many volunteers from across Europe who are participating in other EVS projects. In Chisinau, we have a very lively community of Volunteers and together we have so far been exploring Moldovan traditions (with some advice and help from our work colleagues!), such as enjoying Orthodox Easter or International Women’s Day. There are also events held which can provide the opportunity to meet local people and other members of the International Community here such as The English Table (English over Beers) and an English language film and discussion club, amongst others. Together we have explored some “exotic destinations” such as Tiraspol, the capital of the breakaway region of Transnistria, and are already planning our next trips to other regions of Moldova and further afield in Romania and Ukraine! On our EVS On-Arrival Training, we also met people volunteering in Ukraine and have made plans to meet up with them again in the future. EVS has opened new horizons and allowed me to make new friends from across Europe who I can’t wait to go and visit in their home countries once our projects finished!
Hristos a înviat! Christ is risen!
It is so hard, to sum up, the last three months into a few short paragraphs (I could probably write a dissertation on my experience so far!) but I hope that this has given you a taste of what life as EVS volunteer is like and some of my experiences so far.