It’s not a happy post*

Honestly I thought I’m not going to write anything more on this blog after my sort-of-final post just before my departure from Bologna. But now I feel that I really need to communicate something connected to the EVS experience and this is the right place to do so.

So, I have already mentioned that no one can prepare you for your EVS. Everywhere it’s different and you’ll get a different experience depending on the country you go to, the culture, the people you’ll work and go out with. This is obvious. Every EVS volunteer will tell you that and you’ll find this observation on their blogs. But what no one says out loud is that what you REALLY don’t expect is the PTSD (or should I rather say TSD, since the trauma is happening now and not before) you’ll get after coming back from an EVS.

Now, I don’t want to speak generally, because everyone is different and we all came from various backgrounds, had various reasons for doing the EVS, so I’ll just tell you how I feel now, after being back since already a month. It’s awful and terrifying, that’s how it is for me now. I feel terribly confused and lost, I have no idea what to do with myself. Like a fish out of water I have been deprived of an environment and life I need, of a place where I felt happy and fulfilled. Now I just simply don’t know how to go on. I don’t know how to find myself in the new-old reality which is my hometown, where I no longer belong.

I have moments in which I truly HATE relating to my countrymen and speaking in my mothertongue. And then I hate myself for this.

These are all things you will never be prepared for. This feeling of being empty inside, cause all your “contents” have been left somewhere else. This consciousness that you’re no longer a citizen of just one country.

The EVS has been such a great experience for me and Bologna has become my city just as much as the one I have been raised up in. Some of my fellow volunteers have found (or are still trying to find) a way to stay in Italy after their projects. I now deeply regret I haven’t tried harder to do the same.

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*You have been warned.


This is it

My EVS officially ends on the 2nd of August, although I had already finished work and taken the last week off, since I still had some vacation days left.

So here I am, revisiting some of my favorite places in Bologna, eating and drinking at my favorite restaurants and pubs, walking the streets I walked for the past 10 months. It’s sad having to leave a place you’ve grown so close to. I spent here only 10 months, but it has become my home very fast, a place where I felt good and comfortable, where I was able to cultivate my deepest feelings, where I’ve grown and learned, where I met friends.


But I’m not saying farewell to Bologna. I will come back and not once, of that I’m sure. And who knows what the future holds anyway?

Now I’m going for a week-long vacation in Ravenna, after which I’ll come back one last time this summer to Bologna to pack all my things and take the infamous bus connection of 17 hours back to Poland on 11th August.

The Hole in the Wall

Not so long ago, I’ve mentioned on Facebook, that a group of American film students accidentally discovered il b.u.c.o. (where I’m doing my EVS) and decided to create a short documentary about the place as their study project.

I have to say I was very surprised and obviously quite unprepared when they walked in asking if they can interview me about the place and the organisation, but I guess it didn’t go as bad as I could expect. Actually I’m pretty happy with how I did. Well, anyway, judge yourselves:

EVS crash test

As I’m starting to work on my YouthPass* my head fills up with thoughts and worries about the nearest future (brace yourself for this is NOT going to be a cheerful post).

One of the main goals of Erasmus+, and so also the EVS, is to give young people a chance to develop themselves in an international environment, to learn things they would probably never learn in their home countries, to give them something to add to their CVs that could encourage employers to recruit them. And while I’m describing all my experiences and the knowledge and skills I got from them, I can’t escape the thought that it’s all very nice and neat, but it’s probably not going to be of much help.

Yes, I did learn a new language to a point that I can have a decent conversation and I’m more or less able to use it also at work, where it’s all about complicated vocabulary and structures and yes, I have had many various experiences, work-related and not, that enriched me as a person and as a worker, but is it really going to be appreciated? In the end my Erasmus in Finland wasn’t as much of a “thrill” to my probable employers as I thought it would be.

Well, either way, it’s still a gamble. You go back to your home country from a year during which you didn’t have to worry about anything and you have no idea what to do with yourself. You got used so much to living among people who didn’t speak your language that when you finally hear it (your language) it sounds weird and completely out of place. You got used to a certain way of spending your days (and nights), you made friends, you’ve developed connections. And now you have to leave all of it, because there’s no other way. And on top of all this, you have no idea what’s out there waiting for you.

Some people might see it as a possibility, an adventure. I don’t, sorry. In the past two years I have traveled more than in my entire life before that, I got used to speaking languages other than my own, first English and Finnish, then English and Italian and for some reason, going back to Poland, speaking only Polish, interacting only with Polish people seems so incredibly dull and unexciting that I’m getting depressed by only thinking about it.

And then there’s your heart. Your heart that is no longer only yours and that got used to some things too. And there’s no way of telling it to suck it up and wait. Life lies ahead and you need to get hold of it.

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*Youthpass — an official EVS document confirming you did a voluntary service and stating what skills an abilities you obtained during your project.

The soup infographic

So, in the last months I have been working on my own project within my EVS in Bologna. Every volunteer has the right (not the obligation though) to develop their own project as a part of the main one they are doing during their voluntary service.

Since I’m a graphic designer, I have decided to use my skills and prepare something I always wanted to do, but never had a good enough idea to create: an infographic.

To explain the thing shortly — it’s a visual representation of data revolving around a specific topic. It can be presented in various ways, starting from charts that you can create in Microsoft Excel and ending with complex graphic designs consisting of various information and containing a layout created specifically for this purpose.

My infographic is an attempt on reflecting the information about all the previous editions of Festival della Zuppa in Bologna. It has taken me a lot of time to gather all the data as I had to go through the archives (that were not always very well organised) and find all the numbers I needed. But it gave me also a lot of satisfaction as I was discovering how many soups were presented each year and finding out about the European projects that my association took part in along with organisations from Germany, France and Spain.

Finally I had everything I needed to present the development of the festival throughout the years. I added my own knowledge of the topic regarding this year’s edition, putting in also some interesting facts about how many litres of coffee we drunk during organisational meetings and so on.

Following all this, I can now present you with the fruit of my work (click to see the full size):

Click to see the full size

Bologna‬ é ‪Pride‬

How does it happen that the nicest things come and go in a blink of an eye?

The Pride weekend is over, but it was a wonderful experience. The parade started at 16.00, but we went a bit earlier to check out the stands of LGBTQ organisations and walk around enjoying the view.

Then we met with some friends with whom we later did the whole parade. The percourse wasn’t a long one (basically just two streets), but since we were in thousands, it took two hours to cover the whole path.

I brought my Polish flag with me as a sign of support, but also as a reminder that Poland is in the same point of the fight for LGBTQ rights as Italy — with no law regulations, no civil partnerships, marriages, adoptions, well… no rights in general. And as I was making my way to Piazza Maggiore, I was being stopped by random people who either asked me what flag it was (sad to say, but many Italians don’t generally have a good knowledge of flags of other countries) or who were not believing I’m truly Polish (sic!) or who just simply were Polish themselves. Enough to say that I was attracting a bit of attention.

But then of course it was a crazy big crowd and I think that when we all finally got to via Indipendenza, that is the main street of Bologna, we for sure covered it all with people wearing rainbow colors, carrying flags and dancing to the joyful music played by the DJs. People were waving at us from windows and everytime the crowd saw an old lady on her balcony clapping to the rhythm, they were simply going crazy.

Foto Nucci_Benvenuti / Corriere di Bologna
Foto Nucci_Benvenuti / Corriere di Bologna