Almost 11 months spent in Türkiye was quite an experience.
I came across this country a few years ago when I traveled to Istanbul. I fell in love with the vibrant vibe of Turkish culture (especially the foods) so when browsing ESC opportunities this one appeared the most attractive to me.
I ended up living in Türkiye’s 3rd biggest city, Izmir. It is a coastal city in the Aegean region (historical Greece) famous for its open-mindness and student’s life.
My job was to organize workshops for local people mainly in the municipality’s culture centers of Izmir. This required me to sometimes go out of my comfort zone and learn new things. It was also a great opportunity to make new friends. I felt a deep connection with my english workshop group that I led classes for 9 months. I could really see an impact I have on them and the gratitude they convey towards me.
I especially value the travels I did on my free days in Türkiye, I have visited Georgia, Greece and traveled almost the whole Türkiye through. Hiking through mountains with a Mediterranean sea view on the other side is something I will remember forever. Fun fact: in one almost 2 week trip I have traveled a distance of 2239 kilometers only by bus. (100 kilometers less than from my hometown to Istanbul)
Turkish food is something that will stay with me forever for sure. I got to learn new ideas and recipes as well as a chance to taste authentic home made cuisine. Once on our trip in Eastern Anatolia we were invited for dinner to a Kurdish Family. We also performed traditional dances with them.
This experience also taught me to value European values and citizenship. Being a young person in Türkiye is nothing like in Europe. Getting a visa to travel to Europe for most people is almost impossible. Taxes and restrictions make buying a car or house as well very hard. It was sad to see many young people with ambition being crippled by those issues.
To sum up, this was an amazing experience which granted me a few unforgettable moments, and gave me a bigger perspective. I recommend everybody to try ESC volunteering themselves.