VOLUNTEERING AND BEING A STUDENT ABROADIvana
Turkey, Hungary, Croatia… Beyza Çeltik was a European Solidarity Corps Volunteer last year in Hungary and an Erasmus student in Croatia this year.
She collected a lot of memories and experiences thanks to Erasmus and ESC. Çeltik says “ I gained experience in problem-solving, being practical, organizing events, being creative and leading.”
- Can you introduce yourself?
I am Beyza and I am from Turkey. I grew up in Ankara. Ankara is the capital of Turkey. Located in the central part of Anatolia. I am studying Philosophy Group Teaching at Gazi University.
- How did you decide to study in this department?
First, I tried to study in the faculty of the agriculture department of Food Engineering but I could not like this department and I quit and focused on knowing myself. I like children; sharing ideas and communicating with people. I decided to study Philosophy Group Teaching at the Faculty of Education. I like writing, reading and thinking about ideas. One of the most substantial parts of my life is observing people, walking around the streets, walking and travelling constantly. Since children are the light of our future, it is one of my purposes to do something for them and to be a good teacher. Also, embarking on adventures and being a nomad are among my passions in life. Peace and balance are the base notions in my life and I try to put these notions into action.
- How did you decide to join the ESC project? Can you talk about your application process?
I have been an active volunteer in social clubs at the university for years. Green Crescent, the social club I was most active in, was doing projects. I also would like to go to the Project Coordination Implementation and Research Center at my university and get information. I learned that there are volunteering projects within the scope of Erasmus+, and our university is one of the sending organizations. Also, the GaziEurodesk team has been constituted to announce ESC projects to more people, to write projects and improve their sustainability. I followed the application time; sent my CV and motivation letter for long-term projects, as they should be. I took into account that the institution and project I chose were suitable for me and I was entitled to go. As a country, my alternatives were Italy, Hungary, Portugal, Spain, and Greece. I chose Hungary after considering the contribution of the project in terms of my profession and development and considering its economic suitability. By the way, the allowance and travel fee covered by the project were effective in my decision, otherwise, I would not have had the chance to go financially.
- When did you start your service?
I started the project in April 2021 and until October 2021.
SUMMER CAMPS, EVENTS, FESTIVALS…
- What did you do as an ESC volunteer in Hungary?
I worked at Compass Egyesület which is a non-profit organization youth center which organizes different events, and activities for every age range. Compass Egyesület is located in Kaposvar, a city with county rights in the southwestern part of Hungary, south of Lake Balaton. I have participated in and organized different kinds of organisations, events and activities, like a summer camp preparation and process, half marathon, consumer rights, language club, bike competition, mother shelter event, civil day events, and festivals. We organized a summer camp for children and it was very precious for me.
- Have you faced any challenges during volunteering?
Yes, in terms of language, and also we had to struggle to live as a community in house and to be a good team in the organisation we work in. If we can not be a good team in this process, the distribution of tasks, communication and effectiveness in our work will be interrupted. We made an effort on this. I tried to participate in every activity to improve my English skills which required time management and competence in many subjects.
- What experiences did you gain during the project?
In this project process, how to communicate effectively with my president in my host organization, coordinator, mentor, teammates and the organisations we work with, how to distribute tasks, how to use technology effectively, event preparation stages, time management, taking initiative, being able to overcome my excitement in front of the community, crisis management, I gained experience in problem-solving, being practical, organizing events, being creative and leading.
- Did you like Hungary? Which places do you suggest visiting in Hungary?
Yes, of course! Hungary is an amazing country for me. Budapest has a special place and is fascinating to the cities I have seen. Whoever asks the question ”What’s your favourite city?” my answer was always Budapest city 🙂 You could visit these places in Budapest; Hungarian Parliament Building, Fisherman’s Bastion, Matthias Church, Buda Castle, St. Stephen’s Basilica, Heroes’ Square, and Gellert Hill. When you go to Hungary also you should visit Esztergom a city with county rights in northern Hungary and for sure you should visit Balaton the largest lake in Central Europe. Also the other city Pécs (The University of Pécs is the oldest university in Hungary and is among the first European universities. Szigetvár, Fonyód, Siófok, Keszthely cities I could recommend for you.
- Can you tell us an unforgettable moment you had during the project?
We had a mentor from America who was about 80 years old. She was such a kind-hearted, energetic and lively woman. Usually, she invited us to her house, listened to our nuisances, played games with us in English, prepared various meals, and always we felt at home. When my project day was finished, I had a train at 6 am on the day. She made cookies for me and came to see me off at the train station at half past 5 in the morning. And all my other friends who were volunteers did not sleep until the morning and came to the train station to see me off. It was a very precious and emotional, unforgettable moment for me.
“PARTICIPATE IN ALL ACTIVITIES AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE, LEARN THE LANGUAGE AND BE CURIOUS”
- What would you recommend for those who want to apply for the ESC project?
They should research the country they are going to go to beforehand, know whether it is proper for them or not and whether it is ready for its economic conditions. They should also investigate whether the duration of the project is appropriate in terms of their professionality and development. I suggest that they learn about the organisation to go to. I could say that it is the essential motivation and team spirit for volunteering. I would recommend they have a sense of duty and implement their projects wherever they go. I could tell them to participate in all activities as much as possible and to discover other countries starting from the country they live in. I recommend them to learn the language of the country they live in, even if it is at a basic level, and to be curious. If they are solution-oriented in the face of problems, they will gain a very effective and instructive experience from the project.
- Also, I want to talk about Erasmus. How was your Erasmus journey?
This was one of my dreams – to experience Erasmus+ Exchange and to learn about the education system of a different country. The tutorial was a very nice, sometimes tough and valuable adventure for me, where I saw how I could proceed in the face of tough situations, make my own decisions, and experience what language learning brings. Having friends from different cultures, being able to get to know that culture from them, and being able to communicate without discrimination of language, religion or race as you spend quality time together widen one’s viewpoint. I am very fortunate to have had the opportunity to experience this. I was able to explore Europe and the Balkans whenever I found an opportunity and time. I walked its streets from different countries and cities with my friend who was my comrade and was able to see the difficult and enjoyable aspects of being on the road. Traveling is an indispensable part of my life. Since I studied philosophy group teaching, the most enjoyable moments that will contribute to the field of philosophy, sociology and psychology are the moments of discovery. It is indelible, stories collected in this way.
- What did you gain during the Erasmus?
You could see how you should manage your time with the scholarship given to you for a while. In this process, I learned how to balance and manage my time, education and study process, language improvement skill, social life, dorm life, eating and drinking habits, and economic level. Since I stayed in the dormitory, I had friends there, with whom I could share my nuisance in tough times, and quality friendships were one of my most valuable gains. Being curious about the language, having a broad perspective, getting to know people from different cultures, being able to exchange ideas, enriching my social life with activities and of course studying regularly were among my gains. I have witnessed this as it is always said that language opens many doors. I saw what could change as I improved myself, especially due to my language problem early on.
- Did you like Croatia? How were your Croatia experiences?
Croatia is enchanting with its nature, and I feel like my second country, which remains a pretty and colourful country in my heart and mind. Zagreb was quite calm with a population of about 770.000, and it was amazing and relaxing for me with an underpopulation. It has become a city that enthralled my heart with its cultural richness, parks, museums, cafe culture, cultural richness, nature and people. I could say that people’s fluent English speaking, kindness and helpfulness towards foreigners will make it easier for you to like and adapt to Zagreb. There are also some common words in Croatian and Turkish language (like a böbrek, boya, džezva, maymun) Turkish TV series was also quite famous there.
I studied Unıversity of Zagreb, Faculty of Philosophy and Religious Studies. Sveučilište u Zagrebu has many different faculties expanded throughout the city, most of them in the city center. The good thing I could say about this Faculty is that it feels like family, everyone knows each other and professors communicate very well with students. I didn’t have a hard time fitting in because of such a sincere atmosphere. My professors and my colleagues were very helpful. I was so lucky.
- What are the differences between Erasmus and the European Solidarity Corps for you?
I can say that they offer quite different experiences from each other. When you go for education, your time varies according to your studying and professors. When you volunteer, holidays are limited. This affects your social life, the activities you attend, your language development, and your travel. There is also a conceptual difference between being a student and being a volunteer, which affects your environment. The opportunities offered as a student are more, especially in terms of taking advantage of discounts 🙂
You could get to know and improve yourself on both sides, but with the difference in method and possibilities. I recommend everyone to have these experiences.
Interview: Evin Arslan