From Russia with love

Have you ever experienced wanderlust? That strong desire to travel to different places is often a trigger for life changing experiences. Jovana Marinkovic, our fellow colleague, undertook the journey of her life. Her internship in Russia, was a journey of genuine change and its impact is priceless.

I learnt how to love my Serbia and all people that live in it. In addition to it, I learnt how to become an open-minded, independent and self-confident person.

  • What motivated you for your journey?

Frankly speaking, I had no special expectations of AIESEC. I challenged this membership just because I wanted to do some sort of volunteer job to gain some experience. To a certain extent, I had no prior knowledge about AIESEC, so I just went for it. In some way, I wanted to broaden my cultural horizons, to travel, to live in another country and that actually motivated me for my journey.

wanderlust

  • Could you describe cultural differences and the process of adaptation?

If you are a bit familiar with the AIESEC processes, you know that before going on an exchange, you are supposed to go through an Outgoing Preparation Seminar (OPS) that will give you the basics about the exchange, representing your country abroad, and, of course, the culture shock. I had to say that I was very grateful to AIESEC Novi Sad for organizing a good OPS before I left. It is very important for an intern who wants to go to a foreign country to be prepared (indeed, there are countries that do not practice an OPS).

In my opinion, the adaptation to a strange culture and place is not only a physical transition from one place to another, it is also a mental process. It takes time to learn new customs. One has to know how to correctly understand and how to make oneself understood. Undoubtedly, the radical change in environment also affects moods. Tolerance of stress and uncertainty is put to the test when one has to question personal experiences and familiar ways of doing things on a daily basis. That is when you have reached rock bottom of culture shock. Then, I started to wonder if it indeed was such a good idea to come to Novosibirsk. You only could remember the homeland and the familiar patterns as being perfect and homesickness burnt the mind. Hopefully, I found the best way how to cope with it. I decided to learn the local customs and I realised that I had to get to know the local people. After that, everything was brilliant and it was the best part of my life.

  • Did you experience culture shock and how did you overcome it?

Culture shock is something you can read a lot about and think you understand it, but only when you experience it on your own skin, you get the idea what all the scientists and travelers are talking about. For sure, moving to a different culture and country was not easy, and moving to a culture that was 180 degrees different from what you were used to was even less easy. From my experience, I felt that the culture shock was not something that would come on one day, linger for a few weeks and then leave you either frustrated or adapted. Well, it was a continuous process of being exposed to small everyday events, adapting to them and getting frustrated about them, and questioning everything that was happening around you. However, it was invaluable experience! In that process of adaptation I had been learning a lot about myself and I discovered qualities that I did not know I had. There was the beauty of personal growth, going through a whole spectrum of emotions and learning how to deal with new situations and crisis.

taketheride

  • Please, describe the project on which you were working.

The name of the project was Young and Perspective. It was active and responsible work with the pupils of 3 Novosibirsk schools (aged 7-18).

My task was to make practical seminars about intern’s national cuisine, handicrafts, culture, history etc; to provide English lessons for children in interactive form. We were supposed to work with more experienced teachers in order to plan next lessons and evaluate my work.

Then I created content of all lessons in the schools following the topic and prepared all necessary material for lessons (outputs, presentations, video materials). The topics were related to Serbian culture and tradition.

The aim of the project was to make trainings about leadership for children (interactive work with groups of pupils) and to create different contests for participants to check what they have learned from these seminars.

  • What are the challenges of living and working in an international environment?

An International environment is an amazing experience. International living is always a challenge, particularly in the beginning. New impressions and local customs can be overwhelming. Even though you have to deal with the language barrier and an entirely different pace of life, I think that you should stay calm and relaxed in the first few days, and you will realize the beauties of international living very quickly!

  • Could you tell us about your personal and professional development during your internship?

An internship in Novosibirsk, Russia was an incredible learning opportunity that had a significant impact on my future and career prospects. The professional, personal and cultural experiences I gained there  were likely some of the reasons I decided to participate in the first place!

Now I can take a look at that experience and I can use it to develop my career. Hopefully, I have learned new skills that will benefit me in my job search or for further learning opportunities.

  • What’s the biggest lesson you learned during your journey?

I learnt how to love my Serbia and all people that live in it. In addition to it, I learnt how to become an open-minded, independent and self-confident person.

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Maja

Maja

Maja is a Belgrade based creative writer and content strategist specializing in creative ideation, marketing strategy, content development, and copy writing.She is constantly looking to inspire and motivate through her writings. Connect with @MajaZikic on Twitter.
Maja