Centrul Național de Resurse pentru Voluntariat

EVS changed my life for the better – Testimonial

Hi! I’m Andreea and you’re about to read about my EVS experience, which started a few days after turning 28 years old.
You see, after working really hard for 10 years, exactly when I got to the burnout point of my career, this project appeared into my life out of nowhere. I took the decision to join it and in only three weeks from the moment when I sent my resume I was here, ready to spend my 2017 in a different country, with people from totally different cultures. I didn’t know what was about to happen and so, thinking about a thousand different scenarios, I came here full of hope. And totally scared.


Valencia, Spain. In the beginning, the project was supposed to last approximately 10 months, from February 2017 until December 2017. I finally stayed for 12 months and honestly, started to enjoy the project after four or five months of being here. The difference of culture, the home sickness, the feeling that I don’t belong here, they have all created pretty strong emotions in the beginning and I could hardly quiet up my mind about it.

I did have it all when I left my country but, in the same, I didn’t have anything, because I couldn’t enjoy it anymore. I had tons of friends and a beautiful room in the center of Bucharest, living with good friends and my spoiled cat, Oreo. I had a job I thought I never wanted to let go. It was hard leaving the people, animals and plants behind but looking back after one year and a half, I think the hardest moments were actually the ones when I had to face the hard truth: racism is not only something that happens all over the world, is not only a terrible social construct, it was also directed to me.


One of the most courageous things I did in my life

Being a Romanian in a country where everybody hates Romanians is no easy thing. Being an exhausted and depressed person trying to get back to living a normal life is even worse. Being a Romanian who came in Spain for doing what I love most (volunteering) while trying to cure my depression and joining a project which meant working with gypsies was, by far, one of the most courageous things I did in my life.


Not only did I not give up, I stayed in the project 2 months more than I was supposed to in the beginning.

Not only have I learned a new language in a few months, I now have the job of my dreams thanks to being a volunteer for one organisation here in Valencia.

Not only have I met lots of people from all over the world (yes, at least one person from each continent), but I now have more than five really good friends who know, accept and support me for better or for worse. I’m trying to make them know the love I have for them is unconditional too. 🙂


When I’m OK with myself, the entire world around simply gets better

The list goes on. I have traveled a total of 65 days out of 365 and, sometimes, I didn’t pay a thing. See, I know very well that when I’m OK with myself, the entire world around simply gets better. People start feeling better when we interact, food becomes really tasty and experiences keep flowing, just like my life started to flow when I learned to let go and relax, when I stopped trying to be perfect.


I don’t know where you’re coming from actually, but if you want to learn how to live, try spending at least 6 months travelling and volunteering. Try becoming the best person you can be with really limited resources. I know you will get scared thinking: ”Oh my God, how am I supposed to live with only 150€ per month for food and some extra 110€ as pocket money? Are you guys insane?

Don’t worry. Not only you will live your best moments when you have almost nothing, but it’s also very possible you will change your lifestyle and start eating healthy and delicious food. I swear, some of the best meals I had during this EVS were the ones cooked with my own hands, with leftover ingredients, when my pocket said I have only 10 € left for one week and shopping was not a valid option. I also quit smoking (so proud of myself yaaay).


I’ve learned to be the best version of myself with limited resources

Most of the best moments I’ve had in the EVS project were the ones when I stopped using my mobile phone and I started to listen to the people around me. I learned to let them hug me strongly. I learned to let them teach me a different way of living. Not better, just different. I didn’t transform into a Spanish woman and I don’t think I will ever be able to say I’m Spanish. But I did trick my mind into changing some unhealthy ways of thinking and replacing them with some well deserved hope for the future, self trust, mutual confidence; I have learned to built communities and stay without leaving. Learned to be the best version of myself with limited resources and be happy for the present moment.


I remember one time when I was with a Canadian friend on the beach on a regular Monday evening, after sunset. We were quietly sharing some thoughts when suddenly some beautiful fireworks started and lasted for like 20 minutes. Did we try to grab our phones for taking pictures? Yes. Did we give up, realising staying in the present and watching the sky in that moment meant creating a long lasting memory much more valuable than a low quality picture? Yes. We didn’t speak at all during the show and we were the only ones on the beach in that moment. I totally have some nice stories for my future grandchildren!

Yesterday someone asked me: ”What would you have done if you hadn’t had come to Valencia”?

I honestly don’t know. But  I am pretty sure taking this opportunity, joining the EVS program and sharing one year in such a meaningful way was totally worth it. In the end, I have reached the objective:

”Learn to live again like a human, not like a workaholic robot. Learn to live again in the real world and less in the virtual world. Learn how to swim and change an unhealthy lifestyle”.

What’s your objective? Do you have the courage to let go of everything you know and make the mind shift?

– Andreea Alina Celmare