Hello, my name is Ahmet, and I have come to Ireland as an Erasmus Volunteer from Mersin, Turkey, my home country. Mersin is a beautiful Mediterranean city located in a warm and touristic region. As someone who has visited many cities in Turkey, I can say that Mersin is one of my favourites because it has a gorgeous coastline and a rich variety of people. After the last big earthquake, many people came to Mersin because it was the closest safe city to the region, and the estimated population of the city exceeded 2.5 million. I voluntarily participated in relief efforts in the earthquake area and experienced life there. Just 5 days after I returned to my city from the earthquake area, I started packing and saying goodbye to my friends and family and set out to go to Ireland.
Coming here was definitely a difficult decision that required effort: book-sized visa documents, endless emails, and meetings. After getting my visa and plane ticket, I started the journey. It took me about 18 hours to get from my own home to my new home in Ireland. It was a tiring but problem-free journey.
When I arrived in Carrick-On-Shannon, I was greeted by two of the GEAI volunteers, Alessandro and Arnaud, and on the way home, they showed me the surroundings. The first week was more challenging than I expected. Many things were different, from the direction of traffic to the brands at the supermarket and weather conditions, and I had to establish new life habits. As a tourist, I understood much more clearly the difference between visiting a place and living in a place. My friends here and the organisation really helped me go through this process easily. I have a newfound respect for those who travel to different countries alone without any prior knowledge of the place and its people.
From the start, I had the opportunity to meet other volunteers and friends from around the world, take group trips on weekends, and learn about different cultures. It was quite entertaining and instructive. During this process, I had the opportunity to see many different parts of the island and meet people from different countries who are here for different purposes. It helped me understand even more how beautiful and important diversity is. As I worked on my tasks, I learned that the systems we have at home are different from the ones in Ireland, and I am learning how to navigate these situations.
I must admit that the intensity, difficulty, and bad weather of the first few weeks made me question my choice to move to Ireland. Why am I here? Would it be better to consider other options? But after the initial phase had passed and I got used to it, I now realize that this process has been a great tutorial and chance for growth. I know what I want to do in the future: to continue supporting international efforts, especially the green energy transformation, for a more livable world. Over time, I realized that I made the right choice by joining this project. It is very much in line with my goals and is providing me with the opportunity to work with people from different countries, improve my English, and conduct research on green transition. There couldn’t have been a more perfect year of preparation for these goals for me.
I try to look at the good and constructive side of things. For example, in my city, it is mostly sunny, and when it rains, we usually postpone any plans we make because everyone knows that the sun will shine again tomorrow. But the fact that it rains here doesn’t stop people because they have accepted it and adapted to it. When I realized this, I understood that it is more logical to look for solutions to problems and the importance of adapting to different situations. In other words, if it is raining in my life now, there is no postponing the plan; there is revising the plan according to the conditions (well, at least if it isn’t lashing!). I am sure that this is a very valuable mindset, and I will see a lot of benefits from it in the future. I began to understand that it is very important to experience different cultures and try to adapt to local lifestyles because it gives people the opportunity to be more resilient and acquire different perspectives.
In line with my goals, I will try to continue to improve myself, learn and have fun at the same time. Even in just one month, I learned a lot and experienced differences in lifestyle, improved my English, and much more… For this reason, when this project is over, I can’t even imagine the person I will be and all lessons learnt and all the people met.
Wishing us to be in the places we deserve in life, Ahmet Can.