„YMCA Europe is a working fellowship to strengthen movements where people grow in body, mind and spirit.“


3rd February 2017

Amalia is involved in the EVS project "Empowerment and Communication for Policy Change"

Hi there, I am Amalia from Romania and six months ago I made a great decision to start an EVS project in Oslo, Norway. Even if doing an EVS project has been on my 'to do' list for a long time, I took this decision extremely spontaneous so I had less than one month to quit my job and say goodbye to my family and friends for a while, actually ten months. The main reason for my decision is YMCA. I volunteered for three years for YMCA in Baia Mare so I had the opportunity to grow as a person (special thanks for Alina and Marius) and to work with EVS volunteers that we hosted during that period. Another reason is, of course, my obsession for Scandinavia. I really wanted to discover this 'cold culture'.

My EVS project 'Empowerment and Communication for Policy Change' assumes working for two organisations, both owned by the Norwegian YWCA- YMCA and the Norwegian YWCA-YMCA scouts. The first organisation, KFUK-KFUM Global is working on global and justice and peace issues: 'Together we build global justice and peace'. The second one, Forandringshuset, that means 'changing house', is a cultural and activity centre for children and youths. Here they can hang out, do homework, play games or making music. So, every Monday and Thursday I am working for KFUK-KFUM Global on digital competence. I am in charge of Office 365 and Photo Station, but I also assist the director of organisation, Fredrik, in daily tasks. This part of my EVS was a challenge in the beginning because I had never worked in an office or with those programs before.

On Forandringshuset everything is more flexible, even my schedule. I am supposed to work three days on a week, 7.5 hours per day. Because we don't have activities every day, I am working every Wednesday and Thursday and sometimes Saturday or Sunday. We have the house open every first Saturday on a month and I am in charge for a movie night event every Sunday. Well... what I actually do there is taking care of the house: open, fix things, hang out with the volunteers, make coffee, post on social media (Facebook, Instagram, webpage) relevant pictures of our activities, articles, put up posters with the next events or prepare the dinner.

While working in the office (Y Global) means clear tasks like creating user accounts, working on the photo archive, creating strategies for improving our program, etc, working for Forandringshuset implies more creative tasks as coming up new ideas, taking initiatives. I have to mention that the changing of house is a kind of heaven for me. We have an awesome studio for recording, all the instruments that you need in a band and a beautiful stage for concerts. That's why I am spending a lot of my free time there. I love singing! Also my photography skills are needed every time when we have events.

As I've talked enough about my working hours so let's talk about my non-working ones. First of all, let me tell you about my arrival training. It all took place in the beautiful larea of Balestrand, between mountains and fiords. There I had the first connection with the Norwegian culture, tradition, history and food, a lot of great food. (Tusen Takk Tuba&Gard). I also met there the other EVS volunteers currently in Norway. And the great thing is, we made promises about visiting each other, so that is like free accommodation all around Norway. Awesome! Anyways, we started it off with a beautiful yet tiresome mountain trip. I thought about giving up a few times but I am so glad I did not. The trip was a path to a mesmerizing view.

Besides Balestrand I only saw Bergen on my way to Oslo. Eight hours was enough to catch some stunning shots. I definitely love it! And besides these two I saw just small places around Oslo. It is extremely expansive to travel around Norway and that is why that I chose to travel more abroad and discover other Scandinavian countries in the meantime.

Working on Forandringshuset introduced me to a nice group of people. I felt quite alone at times, especially in the first four months, but I know now I am surrounded by wonderful people. It might have taken me more to build friendships here but it is not as difficult as one might expect. I mostly spend the weekends with my friends, cooking dinner (taco quite often), watching movies, ice-skateing or just hanging out at home. It is too expansive to go out so I have only been in some free clubs.

Regarding the language, it still is a bit of an issue. I can use English while working on my project but I still get mails written in Norwegian. Besides, I now have to work on webpages solely written in Norwegian. So, Google Translate and Duolinguo are my best friends. Actually, I started learning with Duolinguo but as of the beginning of January I enrolled on a A2 level course. I am proud to say that I know some words and I am able to say short frasses but that's it for now. You can find more about my experience in Norway here.

Author/Source: Amalia Pop