Even each volunteer writes around one post per month, it can be sometimes difficult ro find an interesting topic. Which one is not related with a previous post of another volunteer. When I saw the last Melanie's post, I had an idea. Seeing all these positive words, this motivation, this light behinh the open door, I though "Hey Quentin, you are a sarcastic, ironic and pessimist person, everybody thinks that you are depressed, taking the negavity to create the worst joke ever. Then why not to speak about the dark side of the foreign life ?"
Yeah, why not. Nothing is perfect, and I know that some people come to this blog to read different experiences. I really don't want to say that "this experience is a fail ! Don't try this you will just fall under the sadness tralilala". Of course not. But I think that if we can talk about the great things, it's also very interesting to show the "bad" feelings. Because after talking with other volunteers or foreigners, I saw that almost everybody felt this famous "bad moment" in the middle of the year. One more time, the aim will be not to explain that it's sad, a pity or whatever, but more to explain what could be the different reasons.
Firstly, and probably the most logic, would be the "culture shock". For those who maybe don't know, quickly, it's the moment when a foreigner tend to stop supporting the differences between the "hosting" culture and his own culture, or just "reject" all this culture in the worst case. For some people, it can be in the beginning during the adaptation. For others, the adaption can be fast but short, and the shock can appears later. For me, hmmm, I don't really know. To use "culture shock" would be too strong, but yes, I can feel sometimes the differences. If in the majority it seems not a problem to understand and accept it, some others can be very difficult to support during the bad days (when tired, stressed etc). In this case, some days probably can be difficult to support this kind of "bad mood" in the street or the shops. I mean, I don't care generally, I'm not really smiling in my life. But sometimes, as a foreigner from a country where the courtesy is automatic for all the random communication, here doesn't seem the same. I'm not telling that it's good or bad, this "courtesy" in my country can sometimes be hypocrisis or a long way to arrive in the aim of the problem. But sometimes, when just finished your day, are lost in a busstation or whatever, to be shouted because you try to ask information to someone who doesn't have time, try to catch a bus sold-out, have a problem who annoy your neighboor without knowing that it's happening, or just when you try to explain that you cannot really communicate in the local language, it can create some madness. Of course, nothing can be generalised, but this cases already happened a couple of time in the same day. This, or different exemples, can create like a real self-asking : am I rejecting a culture ? Am I right thinking that it's a part of the culture ? Am I too critic ? Too selfish ? Where is really the "culture difference" ? What about my defaults ? Questions and questions, but in the same time, it's a step forward. I think. I hope.
The second think who can create bad feelings is probably the most important for me : the communication, or its absence, especially because of the language. Because yes, I think it's the best difficulty when you arrive in a country where you cannot really speak the language. Using english can be a solution, but of course not everybody can speak it and it's normal. And I think that I'm lucky, because I'm thinking about the poor foreigners going to France and meeting the majority of the population who cannot speak another language than french ahah.
In the beginning, improving my russian was one of my most important aim. However, I quickly that it would be more difficult than I thought. Because my knowledges were not so high, the language very difficult, the difficulty to communicate with just 5 words, because englsh became quickly the main language with the other volunteers, and especially because I'm furiously a lazy boy. Of course, it was not a problem to meet local people, spend good time and work. However, more and more, the language appeared as a real barrier :
-for your social life. Because you can think all that you want, you will be NEVER totally integrated in a social local group without speaking the language. It's ike that, they will never break their habits and speak another language between them to be understood by only one foreigner. Of course, it's logic and normal, everybody would do the same. Even in my country, with my friends, I think we would be probably worse than that I lived here (especially because I think in proportionnality, less french youngsters speaks english than in Estonia). If in the beginning it didn't appear like a difficulty, because it was something new, cool, and nothing about the possibility of the experience, more and more this feelings let its place for a kind of loneliness, feeling of being misunderstood, and the difficulty to enjoy totally a night with friends. It already happened for me to spend one night with friends without talking. Because everybody is talking in his own language, because I'm a little bit shy when I don't know everybody, and because I really hate to impose another language for everybody, even if it's my only solution. When I'm thinking, today I'm less motivated to follow (alone) one of my friend in his environnment, knowing that a big part of the night would be for me alone, trying to understand a probable funny discussion, outside of the circle.
-for your "professional" life. Because you can think all that you want, your organisation can be very helpful and and communicate with you with a very good english (and even better than yours), the fact is that english is NOT the local language or the mothertongue, and it's still difficult for everybody to keep a perfect communication. Everyone has in own life, his own timetable, work and occupations, it seems already difficult to manage everything, and also when you have to involve other peope who don't speak the local language. However in the other side, as volunteers, these explanations are not always understood and, one more time, to be tired, stressed and little bit sad sometimes create some misunderstanding and difficulties. Then it can be hard to think clearly about the situation, and not to feel like "outside" of everything. In this bad mood, the motivation is sometimes difficult to keep high and also difficult to speak about these feelings when everybody has his own tasks and things to do.
There is for me the principal difficulties. Of course, it can be different or can change for everybody : climat/weather, homesick, missing friends/family, food etc. But for me I think no, it would be principally these communication difficulties, language barriers and this feeling to be not totally involved and integrated, whatever if you try or not. In another part, you can have also your own problems, linked with your project, your country, situation, relations, who sometimes don't really help, but it's a total personnal part.
However these difficulties are a real part of a foreign project and we have to say that without this, it would be maybe not so funny. Because it's also easier to change himself and to progress in his existence in front of difficulties (do you hear the violins ?). Especially for me : I already said that, but in 6 months I fought maybe more fears and personnal problems than in 20 years of existence. Ok I need maybe more efforts, but it's a good beginning.
And of course, not everything is bad ahah. Some projects have been suggested to me, and maybe I will be able to travel all over Estonia for different audiovisual projects, and when you will read this post I will be probably already on the road all over Europe, following one music band to help them (Daytona White, the name already appeared in my last post).
I give you one video made very quickly. My lens is still very dirty, the rushs not very beautiful. But it's probably better than nothing...You can see some pictures of Riga, Stockholm, Tartu and the snowy estonian roads very eary the morning.