This week we are bringing an exchange story shared by Calliope Karavgoustis, a 23 years old AIESEC member who has decided to chellenge herself and volunteer abroad in Baroda, India, on July 2016.
What motivated you to go? I was already a member of AIESEC and I wanted to experience our products. Furthermore, I love traveling and at that time I really needed a break to discover another reality, I wanted to explore something completely new, meet new people, be in another environment. I also wanted to challenge myself by going to a country that is completely different than what I knew and India was fascinating me. Also, I knew that by going with AIESEC it would be easier to be integrated and take the best out of it. Finally, combining the discovery of a new country with a volunteering project seemed to be the best option in order to feel “useful” and to interact with the local community.
What were the main challenges for you? Everything was completely new to me and it was hard in the beginning to adapt to all that. It was challenging to figure out what behavior would be the most suitable. Everyone was looking at me since I was a foreigner and it was weird and a bit uncomfortable in the beginning. However I got used to it and once I started talking to people, most of them were really friendly.
Another challenge was that things don’t always go the way they should and when it is in a different environment, you need to adapt and be resilient to find solutions. My project changed somehow during my stay and I had to adapt to it, but in the end it turned out well.
Another challenging element was basically that I didn’t know anyone and I had to “find my place”, make new friends, etc. But step by step and after the first days, I felt more comfortable and I had met already some very nice people.
How did AIESEC helpe you? AIESEC was very helpful especially during the first days because they helped me feeling more integrated and it was easier to understand their culture by being with them. Since we are the same age it’s also more convenient to spend time together. And they are used to welcome EPs, which makes everything more natural. Another good thing was that before leaving I could ask them lots of questions to get ready and feel more reassured.
During the whole stay, AIESEC Baroda invited us (the Exchange Participants) to any event they had and for any inquiry, I knew I could ask any of them, they were always ready to help.
In general, my stay was very enriching. Everyday I was discovering new things, learning a lot by myself as well as from others, I met amazing people, I could integrate the community and have a better overview of how is life in India. It was also a great journey for myself because I was put in a challenging environment that made me grow a lot!