A big part of my project involved running a winter cafe (known as the Mono Cafe) alongside another EVS volunteer. We served an array of food and drinks and it gave us a great opportunity to get to know some of the locals whilst also practising some of our Finnish language skills. I really enjoyed the responsibility that we were entrusted with and judging by the positive feedback we received from our customers, it was a great success. I was able to show my creative side by making suggestions on new things we could include on the menu and also ways we could attract a greater number of new customers. I took real pride in running the cafe and I learnt a lot from the experience, including that I am capable of managing a project if it is something I am passionate about and really believe in.
Another part of my project involved visiting some of the local schools to talk to the children about my own culture, which was extremely fascinating as it led to some interesting discussions about our cultural differences as well as our similarities. I was intrigued by how much the children already knew about British culture and how eager they were to learn more, which was evident from the number of questions they had for me. I was equally fascinated to know more about their culture, particularly their school life, and how it differed to my time in school.
Throughout my EVS project I was able to confidently communicate in my mother tongue as I knew that the majority of the people I was speaking with had a good level of English. Occasionally I would meet someone who struggled slightly with their English, but I feel I was able to be patient with them and even help them improve their English language capabilities.
During my time in Finland, I attended some Finnish language lessons which I thoroughly enjoyed, however, whilst I did learn some basic words and sentences, it was very difficult for me to gain enough vocabulary and understanding of the language in order to be able to regularly join in with conversations. Towards the end of my project, there were instances where I pleasantly surprised myself as I was able, to some extent, follow a Finnish conversation going on around me even though I couldn’t contribute to the conversation.