Jim Janssen is a 26-year-old Dutch guy from a small town called Alkmaar in the Netherlands. When he was 25, he left his country for starting an ESC project. After finishing his studies, he spent a lot of time looking for a job, but none of the opportunities seemed to interest him, so he took the chance to try an ESC project in Slovenia and practice what he had studied.
Why did you decide to leave your country?
After I’ve finished my studies, I had the idea to study French, so I went to France for one month in the summer, where I’ve met a lot of people. I really liked this – being away from home and living abroad. It was the first time for me. One of the people I’ve met, later advised me, that I could have done something, like volunteering. When I “Googled it” I’ve found this project and I decided to go for it.
Were you scared?
*laughs* Not really, because I had the right mindset, I guess. If you look at it in a positive way, there’s not much to be scared of.
Nice. What were your hopes and fears at the beginning of this experience?
My only fear was that I was going to share a bedroom for one year with someone I didn’t know anything about. I was scared that would share a bedroom with someone terrible. *laughs* And I wouldn’t have at least a bedroom to go back to if I didn’t like something, but it turned out that I like my roommate. About my hopes – I wished that I would find something new I could do after, like the direction I’d like to go in.
What do you miss the most about your country?
Some food. *laughs* My family a bit, but to be honest, I didn’t mind living away for one year. My sister also came to visit me three times and my mom twice. I kind of like to be on my own, but I miss herrings, the raw fish, and a soup, green peas soup. *laughs* And beers, the Belgium beers.
Yeah, I understand. *laughs* Did you manage to achieve some goals?
At some point, I’ve decided that I wanted to spend my free time in a useful way and I’ve started learning Italian. I’ve found a teacher, decided to get classes and I’ve met some Italians too, to practice. My Italian has really improved a lot because I couldn’t speak it at all and now, I can understand quite something. So yeah, I’d say that I’ve achieved that goal. Anyway, it’s really a short time to do anything concrete. So I guess I’d like to find a job or make a plan to move to Italy because I’d like to live there for a while.
Okay, that’s really cool. So you’re close to the end of this project now, how are you feeling?
I don’t know. I really liked it, the whole year. So in this way, I’m a bit sad that it’s ending, but mainly because now I have to think of what to do next. Overall, though, I think one year is enough, maybe to spend a few more months here would be too much.
Would you like to have a similar experience in the future?
Yes, I hope I will. Live again in another country and also live together in a house with people from different countries. It’d be a really nice experience.
True. Did you have a favourite project in PiNA?
It was a project in Bosnia. PiNA is helping women entrepreneurs in the field of Tourism there and it is a success, but they wanted to do something more and create something new. We went to Bosnia, to talk to people that were involved in this and to speak with them. We’ve visited municipalities and the government to see what they would need and how we could help them. I had to record interviews and type things out. In the beginning, I had to do some research and at the end, make a report about it. This was a big project and I really liked working on it. I’ve learned a lot, especially about Bosnia.
That sounds great. Did you discover any new passions?
I discovered that I like living on my own and being away from the people I’ve lived with all my life, because I had the feeling, that I was doing too many things that other people expected or wanted me to do. Now I have more freedom to just go my own way.
Did you achieve any new skills? Which ones?
I think I’ve improved a lot in being on my own because I’ve never really lived alone before. Living in a group too, because I’ve never stayed in a dormitory. This was also new for me. I guess I’ve learned to interact with people, to “discuss” in a way that doesn’t make the situation worse and in a way that actually solves problems.
Do you have a favourite place to hang out?
CMK, of course, the Youth Center. I always go there for lunch to meet my friends. Štorja, that’s the best pizzeria and also the house. You can basically hang out there and when you’re sitting in the living room for half an hour, you’ll run into someone to talk to.
Okay and my last question for you is what would you like to bring home with you?
I don’t know, I guess just a positive mindset, like if I go back home and can’t find a job right away, or something that really interests me, that I could keep the “spirit” to go my own way. Not doing the easy things but to find …
Yeah, to find what I want and to really go for it. Courage and good vibes, that’s what I want to bring home.
Talking with Jim let me know more about him, about how he spent his time here and the “depression state of mind” we both used to have back at home. It was interesting to understand that with just a little positiveness, which is hard to maintain, you can actually live a better life and just be surrounded by good people and vibes.