Anja in Bremen // 2nd Report

Airport. Rush, chaos, touched destinies, goodbyes, greetings, smiles, tears,.. What is a better place to start writing my second (middle) volunteer report than the airport? I always try to search for hidden meanings in everything that surrounds me. And it makes perfect sense. I feel that airport perfectly symbolizes my current position in life – it is temporary – somewhere in the middle, in between leaving and arriving. I love the paradox of it – it’s like a nostalgia – beautiful thread of sadness and happiness intertwined. I close my eyes and let absurd fill up my lungs and heart.

Right now, after half of year spent in Bremen, I will come to visit my “hometown” again.

Wait, but what is home right now? – a thought immediately crosses my mind. Can a person have more home(town)s?

Yes, one home(town) that taught you how to see this world for the first time – friends that marked your childhood, teenage years, in my case even faculty years. Your family – people who raised you up in this world, who grew up with you, who probably know you better than you know yourself.

Then there are other home(town)s – places that become your heart’s harbour throughout your life, for shorter or longer periods of time. Places that you feel yourself in, that make you feel free and alive. And again – it’s not just about place itself – it’s about people whose destinies become entangled with yours in that very place. It’s about new friends, new family who gets to know you better than you know yourself, who become integral part of your everyday life like sunrises and sunsets.

These last couple of months were slow and heavy for me, just like Bremen’s sky outside my window. My mood was usually clothed in a shade of grey – I was trying to find my own balance – containing darker and whiter shades, mostly rainy with shy rays of sun. When compared to the first couple of months that were characterized by initial “honeymoon” phase filled with enthusiasm and energy that were externally oriented – the middle part of my volunteer experience was rather slow, reflective, internally oriented. Cold north German winter didn’t let me enjoy outside a lot, so I stayed inside – and contemplated more about myself.

The plane takes off. I look at the window and observe whiteness of the clouds. Now I’m really feeling in between, literally and figurately. Up in the sky between two cities – two homes, two lives, two versions of myself.

Who is Anja now? She is definitely not the same girl who left “her” Belgrade in September.

This Anja grew her life in a new city, in a new reality. In the city where she was a question mark once, a complete mystery, unknown, but in time she became more like a dot, she found her own place to belong. Her identity has broadened. She got new friends, she grew up in a new family. This Anja made her first soup, read whole book in German, visited Buchenwald, Weimar and Jena and almost whole Slovenia. This Anja knows how does it feel to have her bike stolen, how does it feel to let people go, but also how does it feel when people become her home. She cried tears, she shared hugs and laughs, went on an adventures and philosophized in the middle of the night. She sang in the karaoke bar, ate marshmallows at bonfires, connected with students – both international and German. And she has made friends for life – the youngest aged 21, the oldest 58. She grew up. And she’s so grateful for that.

This Anja has never been bolder. She is fearless and passionate, she tries and doesn’t care if she “fails”. She learns. And she’s more confident about her future. Bremen was just first stop, the world awaits to be explored by her steps and experienced by her heart. She feels that she’s living the life she was always wanting for herself. And I guess it’s one of the best feelings a human being can experience.

In an hour the plane will touch the ground of my (first) hometown. Hearing my mother tongue at the airport and in the plane made me serene. It still feels natural. Good, I didn’t lose “Serbian Anja”. I guess she will always be part of me. She is just broaden by this “German Anja”.

I’m looking through the small window, in an endless distant vastness of the sky. I feel so small and temporary. And in that smallness I realize – today I’ll hug my parents and brother for the first time in 7 months, for the first time this year. And with that hug I will embrace who I was and who I am, the things that marked my past and the future that is impatiently waiting to be felt by my heart. Yes, I will embrace “кућу and „das Heim“. I will look into their eyes and indeed – I will embrace myself.

 Anja is hosted by NaturKultur e.V. on our project financed by the European Solidarity Corps and Jugend für Europa.