Angelina in Skopje, N.Macedonia // Final Report

I still remember entering the plane all excited about my new life in a foreign country like it was yesterday and it felt like one year passed in the blink of an eye. Suddenly I was hugging people goodbye, laughing, and crying at the same time. While I was sitting at the breakfast table with my flatmates aka best friends ever one last time, I remembered a quote from Winnie the Pooh: “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”

It is so weird to think that one random decision can change you and your life so much and while my life in Skopje had many ups and downs, I wouldn’t want to change this experience for anything in the world. Looking back I am so proud of myself for making this brave decision to move to a foreign country all on my own, having only a glimpse of what would expect me there.

I came to Macedonia because I wanted to experience something new, to see more of the world, to grow, to leave my comfort zone, and maybe a tiny bit inside me also just wanted to escape the predictable life I had in Germany.

I returned to Germany, and I had done all that and even more. I experienced so many firsts in every aspect of my life and learned so much that I don’t even know how to put all of that into words. To say this year was an emotional roller coaster would be the understatement of the year, but somehow things always worked out in the end.

Macedonia changed me in many ways but the one I notice most in my daily life is how much more confident in my abilities I am. May it be making new friends, fixing a broken toilet seat, or anything in between I learned that I am able to somehow figure things out or ask others for help if I can’t do it on my own.

I also learned a lot about what I want and need in terms of work for the future. When I was doing my work for VCS like writing articles, organizing events, designing, and managing social media posts and so much more, I greatly enjoyed the freedom I had when it came to managing my time and workload. I enjoyed trying out new things and working in a team with the other volunteers. There were some struggles like our original office being flooded, so we had to move and in rather stressful times the communication at VCS was sometimes a bit chaotic. For me personally, this was a bit irritating and also the very blurred line between work and private life (because you work and live with the same people) was also not ideal. I still think it was an amazing opportunity and even though I realized during the year there that not everything works for me, this realization was also worth the process.

I also learned that I can be happy pretty much anywhere as long as I have amazing people beside me. One of my friends told me “Welcome to the Balkans, it sucks – you’re gonna love it” during my first week in Macedonia and honestly, this is so true. I experienced the struggles of the Macedonians and I saw a country that has so many deeply rooted problems from poverty and discrimination of minorities to corruption and pollution, but I also saw the beautiful sides of the country and the culture and those warm and welcoming people with their happy and easy-going attitudes. I never fully stopped complaining about all the things that are going wrong there, but I grew to love this place and the people despite that, and I miss them like crazy already.

There is this saying that you never really leave a place you love, you just leave a part of yourself behind and take a part of it with you. I don’t know what parts of me I left behind, but I can for sure say that I see glimpses of Macedonia in my so loved Ajvar bread, in the Balkan music that I still listen to, in the way I happily chat with everyone I see on the streets, the way my eyes light up everytime someone mentions anything remotely connected to Skopje and when I have to apologize for being late again. There are countless songs that remind me of people and memories so dear to me and the pictures on my walls never fail to make me smile, because I was so lucky to have had such a great time.

I want to thank everyone who made this the best year of my life (so far)! I will never forget any of you and I will return to Macedonia for sure.


Angelina spent her voluntary service at Volunteer Centre Skopje, her project was co-financed by the European Union.