jOn the 9th of October 2014, I stepped into the unknown as I arrived in CICD. I had my ideas of what the experience would bring, my doubts, hesitations and hopes.

During my stay here, all those things I brought with me in my mind were turned upside down and sideways for good measure.

Today is the 11th of November 2016 so I have spent here just over 2 years, in the midst of the Yorkshire fields and strange but wonderful international people.

When I first stepped foot into CICD I was honestly quite terrified. I had left behind my home and family and taken a leap of faith with a plane and a train over several thousand kilometres.

I found the college, as I was looking for volunteer work in England, on a little website and at first was not sure if it was even real.

So I wrote to the email given on the add and got in contact with Marie, the promotion manager who asked me many questions and who I in kind bombarded with many more.

And then came the moment of truth, the moment I arrived and was pulled into CICD life.

I started my program as a GAIA student, raising my money working in promotion for 6 months. It was hard and psychologically quite demanding but I made it through, with another kind of new experience.

Then it was time to start the real thing. The 18 months program of Fighting with The Poor.

Me and my 11 team mates became the May team of 2015 and began our studies and preparations.

There were good and bad times, laughter and tears, ups and downs like in “normal” life.

When the time came, we divided into duos and trios and headed for Africa. I ended up in Zambia, working in the NHQ of DAPP Zambia for Child Aid.

The time there passed way too quickly. We were on our way back even before we knew it.

It was quite surreal to arrive in CICD again because nothing had truly changed, only the people were new.

That signalled the start of the journal period. Me and my duo companion Kevin journeyed to Italy and Estonia to hold presentations about our experiences in Zambia.

And now it’s almost time to go. Time to leave CICD and return to “reality”.

Now, all that you’ve just read is only a very bare bones story of my time in CICD. What truly happened is so much more that it’s very hard to put down in words.

There were dance parties to Portuguese and Spanish music, amazing food from so many different countries; nature; culture and history; exploration of England; the whole 6 months in Zambia that were just mind-blowingly amazing; new friends for life; self-discovery and so many more.

The things that made this place a second home. Quiet moment in the living room; movie evenings; singing badly to karaoke; cakes and cakes and cakes; the people from Portugal, Spain, Italy, Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, Brazil, Japan, South-Korea, France and Belgium weather they were here for months of just for a couple of weeks; the garden; the Sunday brunch; the music evening; the inside jokes; the shuffle of decaffeinated people in the morning; the open and building weekends; the morning cleaning; the mementos of DI’s and GAIAs from the years past; the camaraderie of organising a birthday or goodbye party and most of all the family we created here.

I learned so much in these 2 years that it surprises even me how greatly I have changed. I arrived here quiet and reserved, afraid to speak out, unconfident in my abilities to communicate and socialise. I was very Estonian.

Over time my team mates and others managed to slowly pull me from my shell. Hey, if your team is 75% Portuguese it’s a bit hard to stay quiet and on your own, they pull you in.

Zambia gave me strength to deal with new situations and improvise. When I returned, I took over as the GAIA teacher and gained so many skills in teaching and people management.

Now thinking back to those 2 years it’s a massive collage of colours and emotions. Filled with people, places, sensations and memories. It’s a part of my life that I will never forget. It has truly changed me and my life, because no matter where I go and how much time passes I will always have these 2 years in a place that became my new home with the people who became my temporary family.

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