Small step and big adventure

Hello, my name is Dmytro Zubenko.

In December I was just an ordinary student.

Recently I have finished my University in Ukraine, obtained a Master’s degree. After graduation I felt both happy and sad because, on the one hand I actually achieved my goal – I obtained a high education degree and on the other hand I was worried because I was used having my life scheduled. Obeying rules, deadlines, doing my homework, preparing projects and so on.

But once everything came to its end for me it was a very tough break up because the whole order of my life disappeared in a blink of an eye.

After graduation, I went back home. Being at home, I had time to wander about “What am I going to do?”… I started to look for a job, as regular people do, but one day I stumbled upon an opportunity, which I thought to myself could give me brave new knowledge, and experience I never had.

It’s called Erasmus+ EVS project. I decided to apply for the VolunTEEN project in Croatia because it seemed to offer a lot of different interesting activities.  The idea of volunteering was always on my mind but I didn’t have opportunities to make something like that happen. But also, I must admit I didn’t believe that this is possible. I thought that it is for an exclusive group of people and that the European Union doesn’t care about small individuals like me. In the end what were even the chances that I will be accepted?

Can you imagine my excitement when I got a call from the hosting organization that I got accepted?! I was happy and confused at the same time because I didn’t have any previous experience, apart from my desire to join. At that time, a lot of questions were on my mind about the project, travel tickets, flight, duties etc. Thanks to the cooperation between hosting and sending organizations all those questions were answered, doubts solved and my soul was in peace.

Departure time has come. I remember sitting in high-speed train to the airport, I even didn’t think about anything because I couldn’t even imagine what is going to happen because I never flew before. So I decided that if I can not do anything, I will enjoy every moment.

After all the procedures in the airport were finished, I took my seat in the plane. The plane went to the take-off strip, and now there was no way back. I had only one request. PLEASE, NO AIR CRASHES!

But when the plane started to gain altitude I had a kind of déjà vu moment, like when you take the elevator from the first floor to the last. This made me realize that fear has many eyes a thing that is scary for some people doesn’t have to be scary for you. Through the whole trip I enjoyed views from the window, which I had seen, so far, only in the pictures.

After landing in Istanbul, I found out that I will need to fly with a change in a few hours. Can you imagine my shock. I thought, this is it! I will get lost, I will stay at Istanbul airport, which is not just big but huge, – forever.

BUT despite my bad luck in life, even I, alone, found all the answers for the questions that I had. Next, and the second flight in my life (Istanbul-Zagreb) went very smoothly. At my final destination, I still couldn’t realize that in few hours I overcame such a huge distance. But time was limited and I had to hurry, because the last bus from the airport will not wait for me.

Everything seemed normal. I bought a ticket, put luggage in the bus luggage compartment, took a seat, and enjoyed a small trip from the airport to my bus stop. I listened to music, discovered a new world outside. The world of Zagreb.

At my stop, I asked the driver to open the luggage compartment so I could pick up my luggage. But suddenly we found out that it was on the other side of the bus and the driver said that he will not open the other side of the bus and continued to drive. I was surprised and shocked at the same time.

Later I realized that because of the rules he couldn’t do that. So I have already started to count down kilometers that I have to walk by foot. It was 5 kilometers from the point he stopped to the stop I needed. Due to that fact that I had no local currency, I couldn’t buy a bus or a tram ticket. I started to ask people for help and all of them were trying to help me find Trnsko (my address) is. At this point I even started to understand the Croatian language. Because when you are in a stressful situation – you can understand and do everything! But thanks to all the polite people I met, and modern technologies (Google maps) I found my apartment. There were already other volunteers from different countries who were waiting for me.

They warmly welcomed me and the biggest adventure of my life started. More about this adventure read in the next blog!

I hope my example will help some people to overcome their fear of doing something new, to take risks, to discover and learn about the world and most importantly – about themselves!

Until next week,