Our Advanced Planned Visit started on Wednesday November 7th 2018, when Del picked us up from the airport. Two of us came on an APV: me, Sasha, a volunteer whose year-long EVS project was about to start, and Alisa, volunteer coordinator of Fialta, my sending organization. The first thing Alisa did was to get into the driver’s seat, which wasn’t surprising for Del, though – it seems like everyone needs time to adjust to differences when they’re in Ireland for the first time and driving on the different side of the road is one of those things.

Our first encounter with Leitrim was when we stopped for lunch at a nice little café, the food was good, the people – really friendly and looking genuinely interested in what these new people are here for, which was nice. Since then I have been impressed by general friendliness and that is one of the things that helped me settle in faster.  After lunch I had a chance to drop my bags at volunteers’ house and have a quick look, then we headed straight to the office of GEAI in Ballinaglera Community Hall. We went straight into planning my upcoming EVS, both sending and hosting organizations had to make sure I understood volunteer’s role, was familiar with aims, objectives and main ideas of the project, knew what was expected of me and could ask about important aspects before the project started. In the evening we enjoyed a homemade dinner with the representatives of GEAI and had a chance to get to know each other in a less formal way. Also, that night we visited a local pub where a music session was happening, that was something I’ve never seen before and I was greatly impressed. Although by the end of the night I was falling asleep right there, because by that time we had been up for about 22 hours (there is a 3-hour difference with Belarus and we had an early flight).

Next day we were planning Climate Action Days for school together, and it was great to start participating actively straight away.  And in the first couple of days we were able to see a few totally different types of Irish weather – from a bright sunny day to lashing rain, which also gave me an idea of what is waiting for me in the coming year. The next dinner we had was cooked by the volunteers, each one made a national dish and it was absolutely delicious. For us it was great to have two homemade vegetarian dinners in the row, we were taken great care of.

So this Advanced Planned Visit happened to be a very important step before the start of the project, gave the two organizations opportunity to discuss important issues and helped me, the volunteer, settle in easier and get ready for the project.