Isn’t it confusing when you know that you have just a fixed time in a country. So in fact you know that it is an insertion in your actual life but in the same time it becomes your actual life.
For me, Antonia the 19 years-old German volunteer, this time in Macedonia was a solution of what to do after my Abitur except of studying. I wanted to gain experiences in a social work with children what I got with the possibility of working in the school “D-r Zlatan Sremec” here in Skopje.
My actual life was in Germany, with my family, friends and a relationship.
And at some point I got the message that it seems like I am leaving my life in Germany behind.
What is true.
That does not mean that I stopped thinking about the people, life and my future there because to be honest I realized even more how important my friends are for me and especially how much I need my family around me but in the same time I realized that my one year is not just a part of my life, it is my life at the moment and always will be one of the most formative times.
Here I meet people that show me what real friendship means, I have my first real work where I earn money and gain the experience and knowledge of working with children with disabilities and especially Autism what offers me new perspectives about life and people.
Also I learn how to be more self-reliant and how to live with different kind of people and how to love each of them in their own way.
Actually it’s a lot of things that I am grateful for.
But this journey is not over yet.
So here some insights about the last month.
It was Christmas time. The first time without my family what was hard but in the same time we spend our whole day with cooking and baking just to have an amazing dinner at the evening. It was not just Christmas but also the birthday of one of our loved German friends who came for the second time to Macedonia to celebrate with us. We had traditional meals from international countries and shared a lot of Christmas traditions. For example, in Poland it’s a tradition to have a 12 course menu so we all tried our best and had even more in the end. Of course we didn’t miss to sing Christmas songs in each language.
Later we went all together to church.
After having some big discussions with my apparently best friends about religion (and we are all Christians) it was the most beautiful present at this evening that no matter if Muslim, Atheist or Catholic, we went all together to a catholic Mass in Macedonian language.
When I came home there were some gifts laying under my Christmas tree.
Some of them I put there by myself because my parents gave them to me when I was in Germany but one was new and I started to have tears in my eyes because I told a (muslim) friend that it is a tradition in my family to have the gift-giving after dinner.
And when we were young me and my sister had to go away till a bell was ringing so we knew that the Christ Child was there and brought presents. So it felt like an old tradition and it was even more a surprise because muslim people don’t celebrate Christmas but on that evening all of our Turkish friends were with us.
The Christmas Holiday we (my two German friends and I) used to discover Skopje. We just jumped into the bus which is by the way just 50cents where ever you drive in Skopje and drove to the last station. Well, it was in the middle of nowhere so we just went to a shop to ask where we are and felt so bad because it looked like a really small town so we bought some Ketchup in the shop to leave some money and went to a really good-looking restaurant. It became dark already so we couldn’t discover more of the city and just waited for the next bus to go back but in fact it was fun to be that spontaneous.
Then there was new year and sorry to all of the environment fighters but the fireworks all around the city were beautiful. We went to a small hill to have a view over the whole city and it was amazing. So many lights and colours in this dark city.
From work there is not a lot to tell because we had winter holidays.
So we used the time in January to travel around the Balkan countries.
First we took a seven hour bus to Serbia and I realized that travelling by bus in the Balkans is not my favourite thing to do because all the time some spooky things were happening.
The first time we experienced some smuggling.
While almost all of the people in the bus were sleeping me and one of my German friends were awake and saw everything.
But the moment when we arrived at 5am in Belgrade was overwhelming.
Well, all of us were tired and we had no place to be so we waited till 7am for the opening of MC Donalds but Serbia is probably one of the most beautiful countries that I have ever visited in my life. This country has not the best reputation so I didn’t expect too much but just wow. This country should be visited minimum once in a lifetime.
We had around 2o degrees in January, everything was colourful and beautifully decorated.
But of course it is also important with whom you are travelling and my travel-buddies are just the most amazing people and flatmates (even if one of them is not living with us but in our heart she does and she is anyways always in our flat)
After Serbia we went to Bosnia-Herzegowina and just got the message that many of those who celebrated new year with us are tested positive.
So we tested ourselves and after this day it felt like the quarantine and problems didn’t stop anymore.
Back in Skopje we survived our first earthquake, all of us coloured our hair purple, we got new haircuts and just lived our life as good as possible and always it’s good to know that you have eachother!
Antonia is hosted on the project “See the human behind you – volunteering as a tool to support inclusion”, financed by the European Solidarity Corps and the National Agency for European Educational Programs and Mobility of North Macedonia.