My Days in the Adriatic region Blog

01.07.2022 Deniss Lagzidns

The experience and key insights of Deniss' volunteering year in Molfetta. 

Hey reader,

I arrived in Molfetta on the first of July in 2021, and stayed here for a year. And what a year it has been. Truly an adventure. 

The ESC programme was a strong left turn in a traditional life of studying and transitioning into a workplace. Well, this tradition sort of got broken, as the ESC project completely turned my life upside down. Expectations of anything are useless here. 

The greatest difference I noticed was the lifestyle, the rhythm of the day, the identification with professional activities that are different between my life in Latvia and my year in Puglia. Even when something seemed familiar, the differences were vast and that can impact your day drastically, re-navigating yourself to a new place, a different culture of communication and social norms is not an easy task. To me, a usually very busy individual, the re-navigation was so taxing that I experienced a panic attack for the first time in my life. It happened after napping during the pausa hours (commonly known as siesta). That is meant to help with relaxation before the evening. Imagine that, hah. 

And yet, I strongly recommend participating in such projects for 2 reasons:

1.Taking a step out of the life you are used to will change your perspective, and connect you to people and aspects of life outside your bubble. That sounds scary to some, fascinating to others, but that may be important, because we never know what situations we will find in our lives. If living abroad can be practised, one may be more prepared for unusual environments or career paths for the rest of your life. Most importantly, building relations with people from various backgrounds and with new perspectives to you may be among the happiest moments in your life. That definitely happened to me.

2.Practising being useful to the people around you or society in general is rewarding. Often being useful to others or creating something useful for others is a reason to be happy and share this happiness. No one has ever been hurt by sharing a happy moment or helping a cause that is true and useful. During the volunteering year, my experience here is building relations with different associations that focus on socially valuable activities. Examples have been - teaching local culture, trade activities (sailing, gardening, cooking and others), taking care of the environment of the city or organising movements. We never really know what might be the impact for an individual, yet a day, week or life can change from the smallest of useful activities.

One small step by itself looks like nothing, but step a little without giving up and look where you've gotten. 

I think that captures the key insights from my project in Molfetta. Cheers!