Antonia in Skopje, North Macedonia // Final Report

„I write because it feels like someone is listening. – Or am I finally listening to myself? ”

Here we go with my 5th article for “Naturkultur” and it’s hard to realize that it will be the last one.

Twelve months filled with ups and downs, new friendships, cultural shocks, challenges, experiences, questions, and a lot of love, laugh, and hope.

Where to start?

It’s hard to describe a year like this in a few words because they will never show all of the emotions I’ve felt during this time.

So, if you don’t know me yet I am Antonia a 19 years old girl from Germany.

For one year I had my volunteering project in the school “D-r- Zlatan Sremec” where I worked with children with special needs and especially in the field of Autism.

Let’s start with describing my thoughts about my workplace:

To be honest it happened not only once that I wanted to give up.

Especially in the beginning when I didn’t know the language, had no other volunteer working with me and just no education for working with these children.

Also, some of the teachers gave me the feeling of not being very welcome there.

But I rarely complained and gave the best I could because what I was sure about is that I love to work with children and youth and that I am quite good at that.

So I focused on my strengths and when I was able to understand and speak the language it became so much easier.

Now I have to admit that I will leave this place with a heavy heart.

The children are so deeply in my heart, they taught me so many things and I am proud of myself for how well I could handle everything. I can say for sure that those children give love like many people are not able to and they are just so funny (okei besides the bites, scars and bleeding scratches that they gave me). I don’t regret one day of working in this lovely place where I met so many warm-hearted teachers who helped me and encouraged me.

But what about the other aspects of life here?

What I want to talk about is learning a language.

Everyone is always saying that if you live in a specific country you will learn the language there easily.

But actually, it depends so much on your environment, where you work, what kind of people you have around you, etc.

Because if you hear people talking and don’t know the language you will of course understand absolutely nothing and some of the people I was doing my project with were after one year not able to speak more than 2 sentences.

It’s a lot about being proactive.

If you are not willing to learn a language it will not happen by itself, of course, you will pick up some words on the streets but it’s also about studying, talking and listening.

But it is of course way easier than learning a language in school because there you have probably no mother tongue speaker and you are just pressured to be good and that’s how at least I became worse because I knew I will get grades and have to say exactly those things people want me to hear so I just stopped talking at all.

What else to say?

Maybe something about personal growing:

I came here as an insecure 18 years old girl, just graduated high school and without any clue what I want in life or who I actually am and want to be.

In those 12 months so many things happened, no matter if bad or good. Now I can say that I am confident, I know what I like and don’t like no matter if it is about people or activities and I can take a stand for myself.

I am still on the journey but I am on the right way to love myself. Yet I am not the person I want to be but I found the right direction.

As well I have to mention that I learned a lot about love this year. Especially about the fact of how important family and nontoxic friendships are.

Together with other people I had the possibility to travel through the Balkans. That means that I saw many parts of Macedonia, Kosovo, Greece, Albania, Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegowina.

I discovered that I love talking to people (of different nations and cultures), to learn new languages and that I am even good at that (thanks to those teachers in high school who tried to convince me otherwise), that the work with children is the most fun for me, what I love to do in my free time and that people are just amazing beings.

Life can be so beautiful if you just allow it.

Don’t put yourself down and enjoy all of those beautiful moments in life and make your life memorable and special.

Because you are special too!


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.