“The world is your oyster” My old English teacher, a huge admirer of idioms, made us repeat at class. I wasn’t sure how I felt about oysters, I was already a vegetarian back then, but the message of world open and available to me made a lasting effect. An effect of slight nausea, a mix of excitement blended with worry of how to start broadening my world outside the middle sized town I lived in.
Let me break down some assumptions I had, about what does an international person, citizen of the world, look like. Brave, rich and born fluent with all the over 6000 languages of the world.
I didn’t fit any of the above. For someone who nearly failed English exams at school and was scared to ride a bike, to spend past 8 years abroad, was not something I saw coming.
What you need is an opportunity to get you started; any kind will do. For me it was a year as an Au Pair, followed by backpacking around for another two. That was made possible by using networks like Helpx and Workaway, shuffling from an odd job to another depending where the bus tickets were cheap. Already I had kicked the need to be rich and brave out of the Eurolines discount nighbuss window.
To tackle the language I ended up doing whole degree in Scotland and landing a job with charities abroad. My jokes were a bit silly for several years but eventually I realised my thoughts and expressions had turned into English. All experiences sort accidentally followed after another while my confidence and hunger for new experiences grew.
How to get started then? In our last post Lisa discussed the meaning of volunteering; nowadays you can do it in so many ways. For example, have you heard about the Volunteer Solidarity Corps (ex EVS)?
Maybe your international opportunity is joining a local English activity. Did you know that in one of our “How to Survive through The Finnish Winter Project” (coffee for the person who makes a good short nickname for that project)- event , we had people from 13 different countries here in Turku. That truly is an international opportunity at your doorstep. Another opportunity to ask questions and hear what you could do with us is the information evening “Let’s get international” we are having in October.
When it comes for the reasons why and what I have gained, I will disappoint you and not give an answer. I risk being a cliche and say: it has shaped the person I now am. I did definitely fall out of my comfort zone, with a loud tiny bit painful bang. I wouldn’t have it any other way and I challenge you to give it a go because you won’t have any idea where these opportunities will take you.
Ronja, Project Assistant