This time, I want to share something about what it’s like to live with people from all different countries and a couple of things from our volunteer’s community.
The community is an important part of my life as a volunteer, because I spend almost 24 hours a day with them. I share a flat with three other volunteers, so even at home, we see each other all the time.
Of course, the communication can sometimes be difficult and there can be mix-ups. Mostly, because everyone’s English isn’t perfect but also because verbal and non-verbal communication can be very different in other cultures.
It is one thing to have a misunderstanding with your friends and family in your own language, but it’s a whole other thing to try to communicate with people from other countries who speak other languages. This leads to many funny situations and some use of sign language, but most of the time, we speak English mixed with a bunch of other languages.
We agreed from the start that talking to each other is the most important thing when living together, but, of course, this is easier said than done. Not only when it comes to sharing a bathroom but also to clear up misconceptions or resolve conflicts.
In our kitchen, there is a fridge full of many different things, which can be either annoying because it is so full, or it can be a great inspiration for trying out new things. Whenever one of us tries to cook a traditional dish from their country (of which no one else can pronounce the name), they have to substitute the original ingredients with whatever they can find in the supermarket here. At least this way, we can always pretend that “if we just had the right ingredients it would be sooo much better!”
With that many people, you definitely always have something to talk and laugh about. There are so many things I can learn from the other volunteers. If it’s their take on world politics, how the pandemic has affected their country or simple things like funny words in everyone’s language (please google “I love you” in Portuguese).
In the beginning, it was kind of strange to come into this group of volunteers who already knew each other. I knew I was going to spend the next few months with them, whether I liked them or not. But now that I got to know everyone a little better, I am really glad to have such a diverse team to not only work with but also be friends with.
See you next time,