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Quarter of Adventure

Greetings from Bratislava, Slovakia. My name is Özge Sonkaya. I’m from Istanbul, Turkey. I am a lawyer and an actress.  I also have a tesol certification for teaching English but before coming here I’d never worked with kids let alone the kindergardeners. Yet here I am at the age of 29, in a different country and in a different field I went to school for. Sometimes we need a change of environment to challenge ourselves, to get the hell out of our comfy zone with furry pillows so we can grow and take a step towards the person we want to become.

Of course with every new adventure, there comes the honeymoon phase. Everything is good and exiting. “I can live in this country!” “My tastebuds must be Slovak, the food is so good”. I even liked the buses :D. I definitely liked the calmness and silence of the city. I still do. And it was my first month in a nutshell really.

I was in a high of novelty and excitement. My mind wide open while trying not to get lost with the bus stop names I can’t even pronounce while absorbing the magical old town with narrow streets, pavement stones glistening with the rain and reflection of the lights.. Having Slovak lessons almost everyday for 3 hours while at work with kids and their different nicknames I tried to learn, with daily routines and trying to understand my place in all of it I felt exited and .. a little nervous. It took some questions to understand what was expected of me in my hosting organization. And with time I stopped trying to do everything all the time so I could prove my worth. I’m here to help, yes. But I’m also here to observe, listen, rest and grow. I feel very lucky to have such supportive and loving coworkers in a healthy workplace I always feel happy to go.

My second month December was full of illness, dealing with boundaries, establishing my lines and advocating my mental health needs. My highlights were definitely hosting my father in Bratislava and making new friends at the on arrival training <3 - people at the on arrival training mostly were volunteers all around the Slovakia just like me and some were people who works with the volunteers. Traveling, playing board games, coughing my lungs out yet still enjoying mulled wine at the Christmas market while my nose itches with cold, there went the second month like the twinkling Christmas lights.

In my third month I decided to open a new instagram page dedicated to my Slovak learning journey. I will link it below for anyone interested to see my growth in the Slovak language I try to learn from zero as an adult.

Also in this month I finally revisited one aspect I ignored for a while, what I want to gain from all of this. How can I improve myself which is related to my personal project (we’re supposed to prepare a personal project during our volunteering, I think it is a nice reminder of not forgetting ourselves with the routines of everyday life) I decided that my personal project will be to create my own teaching methodology, combining aspects of theatre with language learning. At the moment I’m teaching them English with visual help, cards, games and I also experiment with different practices like reciting affirmations while embodying the gestures we assigned to those specific adjectives. I also mean to record the creation of my methodology on a specific YouTube channel. Hopefully I can keep improving it for years to come and use this methodology with my future students.

While saying goodbye to my third month and entering my fourth, I believe I got over my honeymoon phase of my volunteering. And thankfully we’re still going strong in our healthy relationship my volunteering and I  :D.

I am sure there will be situations I’ll feel discomfort, of course. This is life. And we can choose to learn and grow from them. I have a good support system and I have faith in myself, my abilities and my capabilities. So I can’t wait for the rest of my time here on this journey.

Thank you for reading. I’m Özge and I’ll see you on my next piece.

Text a foto: Ozge Sonkaya

Ozge je dobrovoľníčka programu Európsky zbor solidarity na projekte v škôlke KRTKO. Projekt bol podporený z projektu EÚ Európsky zbor solidarity.

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