Tarmo Tikk – Georgia
Duration of project: 6 weeks
Type of exchange: voluntary work around Georgia and writing blog posts about it
I volunteered in Georgia for 6 weeks. I was mostly in Tbilisi, but we traveled around Georgia quite a lot so I stayed in some other cities as well for a shorter period of time.
How I ended up in Georgia was pure coincidence. Firstly, I knew that there was an organization called AIESEC because couple of my friends were active there and I also knew some people who had volunteered through AIESEC as well. So I decided to volunteer and wanted to do it in a country I had never visited before. I was just looking at different projects and when I saw this Georgian one, I knew this was the right one. Just the gut feeling. Everything looked really good, it was about traveling around Georgia and writing about it. Sounded perfect to me. I had never been to Georgia, but I had heard good things about it, so I was ready to go. Also Estonians and Georgians had just made a movie together called “Tangerines” which made it even better.
Like I said the project was about traveling around Georgia and writing blog posts about it. We visited different places and the furthest location was visiting the black sea and staying there for some days. Also every volunteer had to make 4-5 presentations about their home country on different topics like history, culture, stereotypes etc. Everything didn’t go according to the plan with the project, but in the end we took maximum out of our time in Georgia.
I love to travel and since AIESEC provides really good ways to discover new cultures I decided to try their program. It is a really awesome way to travel and get to know the locals. You won’t feel like tourist, but rather like someone who lives there. You can get used to every day life and get the real cultural experience.
How to sum up Georgia? Georgians are friendly. There is no question about it. We ended up having drinks with random people without being almost able to talk with them. But we still ended up having a good time. Since we lived in the suburbs of Tbilisi there weren’t any foreigners besides our group so we got lot of attention. But it was always safe. You could go out at in the middle of the night and you still felt safe. Nobody was going to steal your wallet or cellphone.
Also traffic is chaotic in Georgia, but you get used to it. Taxi drivers can be crazy, but that happens a lot in southern countries.
The most fascinating part about Tbilisi for me is that it’s so controversial. You walk in the city center and at the next moment take one street to another direction and you see the whole other side of Tbilisi. Broken houses, unclean streets and completely different architecture. And if you move to the suburbs of Tbilisi its like a whole different world out there.
What I will always remember from the project is the people I met. All the volunteers where really friendly, but I found couple of really good friends whom I still talk a lot. I met an Iranian guy, who I have already visited in Iran and a Czech guy, who I am planning to visit and also Ukrainian girl, with whom I become really close and now she is my girlfriend with whom I have a long distance relationship which I couldn’t imagine having before the project.
Also all the parties we had and we hitchhiked from Tbilisi to Batumi which was like 400km one way and it was adventurous to say the least.
If anyone is even thinking about doing this, then JUST DO IT. There’s no question about it. It’s normal to have some fears or maybe not be sure about it or some other questions you may have, but trust me they will somehow disappear once you make the decision to go and when you have already at your chosen country, you will see that all your uncertainties that you had before the project where only in your head. I can honestly say that this project changed my life, and things that I thought never going to happen happened just because I decided to go and give it a chance.