Can’t believe that I’m writing it, but it’s my turn to reflect on my project. Wow, time does fly. And when time flies, it only means one thing – you’re enjoying whatever is happening in your life. As if you’re unhappy, you’re literally counting down minutes or even seconds until something that makes you feel that way finally ends. Well, it’s definitely not my case (although sometimes it is when, for example, Deutsche Bahn delays my train, and I’m sitting in the railway station praying this delay won’t be delayed). My life in Bremen passes by like greased lightning. And with this intro, it would be suitable to write that this memoir is my final report, and my project is ending. Nope, this is my first report (as stated in the heading) which means I’m not even halfway through the project and I still have enough time to enjoy this year and not be depressed about its termination. Enough of being dramatic, let’s get down to business.
I’m proud to say that I was chosen for the project I was most stoked about. For me, it was superior: based on the description, the tasks and overall the project were exactly what I’d been looking for. A 100% match. So I applied. I passed the first step of the selection process and began to prepare for the interview when I stumbled upon a sentence from the project description that made me anxious. “Please note that you cannot apply if you need a visa/residence permit.” Ahem, I need a visa and I still applied. From that point on I was scared to remind them of this insignificant fact that I don’t have a magical European card that serves as a key to every European (aka country in the EU) door. Long story short, I’m here, even though I had to apply for a visa (which wasn’t preferable). Like each fairytale has a moral, this story also has one: if you’re dying for something, but there’re some obstacles in your way, don’t stop, go for what you want. This applies to everything, including ESC projects. Remember: they choose volunteers based on their personalities, based on who they are, how thrilled they’re about the project, and what value they can bring and not based on their citizenship, gender, and so on (although with age you have no other choice but to follow their wishes, and it may be that either you’re too young or too wise).
I am working at Waldorfschule with kids after classes and also assisting teachers of the 6th grade during lessons. The first thought after my first day at school was “I will definitely master German by the end of this year”. All the communications are in German, and I like it. Speaking with kids is a great way to improve your language as they don’t care about the mistakes you make, your accent, or your inability to fully express yourself. I even read books out loud to them, they listen and don’t pay attention to my imperfect German. Only once I was asked a question, “Warum sprichst du so komisch?” (“Why are you speaking so funny?”) but that’s understandable – kids are curious and they want to know everything. And all of them who heard this question were satisfied with my answer, “because German isn’t my native language”. The teachers and staff at school are also very friendly and welcoming. What also surprised me (in a positive way), is the school, its pedagogy, the itinerary, and the relations between teachers – students. But this is a topic for my second report so stay tuned 🙂
These three and a half months have been eventful. We were hanging out with other volunteers, going on short bicycle trips (thanks to NaturKultur for proving bikes), cooking, going out, watching movies on a projector (again, thanks to NaturKultur) and the list goes on. I travelled a bit around Germany and also went to the Netherlands. Once we went to Groningen in the Netherlands that’s very close to Bremen (based on my understanding, 200 km). We expected to arrive there around 10 am but eventually arrived at 5 pm. It took us almost 11 hours to overcome the distance of a bit less than 200 km, and all thanks to Deutsche Bahn. If I went alone, I would have given up when sitting on the train and hearing the train driver saying something like “the train is delayed and we have no idea when we’re going to depart” and seeing that several trains were cancelled and the other ones going to the needed direction were delayed for God knows how many hours. But here, with other volunteers, we made the maximum use of this situation and visited several small cities that we probably would have never visited in the future. Solidarity in action!
It seems as if it’s time to write something motivational about the ESC projects and how participation in one has changed my life, but I’m sure you can manage to draw these conclusions based on what I wrote earlier. I just want to quote Taylor Swift (and thank you to my friend and another volunteer in Bremen, Kübra, for sending me this Reel on Instagram). The accurate description of volunteering abroad (and overall living abroad): “We’re happy, free, confused, and confused, and lonely at the same time”.
Catch you later,
Arina is hosted by Freie Waldorfschule Bremen on our project financed by the European Solidarity Corps and Jugend für Europa.