So, it all began when I, like most people in their 20s, felt lost after college, not knowing what to do next. For a long time, I worshipped Science and thought it had all the answers to life. And life happened, when I realized that it’s all a maybe and that there are no absolutes. After college, being unsure about pursuing a doctorate degree in Earth Science, I turned to my next best option- learning a new language. My elder brother told me that learning a language would not only help me find jobs in my city, in Bangalore, but also be refreshing to try something new and keep me sharp. So, I chose German following my intuition and it was literally the best thing ever, because, only after my classes and exams at Goethe Institute – Bangalore, did I realize, that I had a knack for learning languages. It made me really confident about my abilities and also it was here that I found the FSL-India Volunteering year poster.
I looked at it and thought, why not? Next to Science, cycling and learning a language, volunteering was something I’ve enjoyed in the past. And I thought, nothing could go wrong with this and if not now, then when? I applied, got selected and I was here in Berlin, in September 2021, a year after getting selected (thanks to COVID). And now I feel that it was so worth the wait. And no, I’m not exaggerating at all.
There have been highs and lows and although the journey wasn’t all that rosy until now, I can say that I’ve only gained experiences that has made me a wholesome person. I’ve been lucky and unlucky just like every other experience in life.
For starters, I’m lucky for having to get to live with a host family in Berlin. I live with another volunteer from Ecuador, with a host mom and her son. My host mom is an Ethiopian who married a German and she’s an empowering woman who pushes me to do my best every day. She challenges my beliefs and tries really hard to give me the best experience in Germany. We celebrated Christmas twice (Ethiopian and German) way and it was so much fun baking and learning about different traditions.
There have been highs and lows, but in the end, it has only made me a better person really. Like Rumi says- “Run from what’s comfortable. Forget safety. Live where you fear to live. Destroy your reputation. Be notorious. I have tried prudent planning long enough. From now on I’ll be mad.”
So yeah, seeking discomfort will always give you rich experiences and I’ve come to accept that it’s okay to feel lost and change paths when you don’t enjoy it anymore. Because, there is no job description to being human and it’s okay to embrace whatever we’re feeling right now. And no matter what, the universe always has your back.
-by Shailajha (Outbound Volunteer)