There is a sense of familiarity, security, and certainty inside our comfort zone. That is why when we step outside of it, we’re taking a risk by opening ourselves up to the possibility of stress and anxiety. We’re not quite sure what will happen and how we’ll react.
Still hesitant to step out of your comfort zone?
Let’s hear how the Global Volunteer program at AIESEC in Prasetiya Mulya really pushes Natasya Halim out of her comfort zone. Natasya (or more familiarly called Tasya) spent her winter days in Lviv, Ukraine, for the Language School Project. Who knows, her story might inspire you to explore new things and expand yourself!
When we want to start doing something new, we tend to expect lots of things. Yet, reality frequently does not match our expectations. This was also felt by Tasya when she began her journey as a global volunteer.
“When I first applied for the program, I expected the activities that I was going to do would all be enjoyable. Thought it that way because that’s what I saw from the previous volunteers’ videos”, said Tasya. “Well, it’s actually not wrong, though, because my experience was great. But to tell you the truth, no matter how exciting the activities might be, there were struggles that I had to go through while living in Ukraine”.
When we’re dealing with a whole new situation, we can’t get away with so-called struggles. For Tasya, her biggest struggle was the language barrier. A language barrier is the lack of a common language that prevents two or more people from speaking to or understanding each other through verbal communication. Since Ukraine is a non-English speaking country, communication was one of her biggest challenges during her stay. In fact, she also revealed that miscommunication had occurred even when she first landed.
“At that time, I was informed by the AIESEC in Ukraine committee team that I would be picked up by my host family at the airport. But after waiting for an hour, no one came to pick me up, and I wasn’t allowed to take a taxi either. I also haven’t bought a sim card at that time because I didn’t really know how to get one. Honestly, I felt a bit panicked. I had just arrived, but I had been faced with various kinds of struggles”.
Being away from your family for a while is not easy. Spending a couple of weeks in Ukraine by herself, Tasya also admitted that she had felt homesick.
“Honestly, there was a stage where I was so tired of living in foreign countries. But, with me continuing to live my days and keeping in mind my primary reason as to why I did this in the first place, I eventually managed to get through that stage. And in the end, I was able to finish the project well”.
She also shared how her fellow volunteers and her host family played a huge role bing her support systems. Whenever she needed support and comfort, they were always there throughout her time in Ukraine.
Tasya with Svitlana and Max, her host family
New People, New Environments
Through this global volunteer experience, Tasya was given the opportunity to work with new people from different countries, like Turkey, China, South Korea, and Egypt. However, it wasn’t a smooth sailing experience for her. There were times when Tasya and her fellow volunteers would clash due to differences in work ethic. However, that didn’t stop her from trying her best to successfully complete this project.
“Each of us tried to put aside our differences and talked it through. In the end, we found the middle ground so we could achieve an agreement. After the conflict happened, we actually grew a lot closer than before”.
Tasya with her exchange participants friends (Minel from Turkey, Habiba from Egypt)
When Tasya had to face the reality that was slightly different from her expectations, she recounted her experience in one word. Fear. She expressed that fear was always there.
“Whenever I wanted to take public transport, the fear remained there. Fear of going the wrong way, fear of getting lost. But, I have to face it myself. After all, it helped me learn to be more independent and to really push myself outside of my comfort zone. Because at times like that, I can only rely on myself”.
At the end of the day, Tasya expressed that stepping outside of her comfort zone does make her happier, as she learned and developed a lot by doing so. She also added that she found satisfaction for herself once she accomplished the program.
“Everyone must have doubts at first. Fear of many things, and that’s natural. However, there’s only one thing I can suggest. Just do it. Whether we like it or not, we have to be brave and force ourselves to get out of our comfort zone because development starts outside of our comfort zone. If we’re only playing it safe by staying inside our comfort zone, when will we grow?”
Words by: Nat Padma
Sources: HuffPost, The Classroom