It’s been more than a year ago when I came out of Skopje Airport, when a tough-looking grey haired man that later turned out to be the loveliest guy on earth was waiting for me there, when he told me in the taxi that it’s not obligatory to wear a seatbelt at the backseat , when I took the first footstep in the place that I would call home for one year, when back then strangers and now more than friends gave me a warm welcome in the middle of the night, when I drank my first glass of Rakija as a shot and burned my throat, when I registered at the local police station next to policemen with Kalashnikovs, when I took a COVID antibody test, when I went to a bar called Beertija Pub where we were meant to organize many amazing events later on, when I saw huge dogs walking at the street within the traffic… when I experienced my very first day in Macedonia.
Now, more than a year later, it’s time for me to go and to think back of all the things that happened within this year, and all the things that I have learned. The main task of my European Solidarity Corps project at Volunteers Centre Skopje was taking care of their magazine called VOICES. I had to write and design own articles, had to put all the articles together in the magazine, publish it online, and take care about the magazines social media accounts. Without any doubts, I learned many new things while doing those tasks, but maybe the more important thing for me was that I have learned a lot about me and also my deficits. I think in general this experience is about personal growth. And even though I have to count myself to the old-timers of the participants of this program, I think that I grew and learned a lot about myself during that year. I wish I would have known about the European Voluntary Service when I just graduated high school and can just recommend everyone who’s in this period of his life to do it. It will open your eyes and will make you see the world from a totally different view point. Even though I tried to be aware of what I have in life and appreciated it before, the experience of living in a country with a less stronger economy and everything that comes with that, and especially listening to personal stories of people living and hardworking there for little reward, made me appreciate the luck that I had to be born in Germany, and the opportunities this automatically gave me, even more.
But enough of this becoming more grateful and make the world a better place stuff. This experience is about joy, and for me it was definitely a good joyride. I have met so many new and amazing people, made many new friends, have been to many beautiful places, experienced a lot of new things. From camping to paragliding, from lakes to waterfalls, from parties at home to parties in the park, from 12 dishes catholic Christmas dinner to lucky coin bread on orthodox Christmas… I feel like, especially in times of Corona, Macedonia was one of the best possible choices for doing my EVS, because the regulations were not that strict in here compared to other countries. I believe in front of phone and computer, you can never really feel the spirit of life, especially at a new place.
I came to Macedonia for many reasons. I wanted to see the world, I wanted to see new faces from different places, wanted to experience a new culture. I came in hope of finding out what I want to do in the future, I wanted to try myself in a completely different field and see how it goes. I wanted to get inspired and enjoy the beauty of life. Some of the things I have found, some not, of some I am yet probably just not aware that I have found them during this year. I can say that I still don’t know what to do in the future, but I feel I came closer to it. And I’m pretty sure if I would have had this EVS experience when I was 18, I would know it already long time ago.
Chris is hosted by Volunteers Centre Skopje on the project “VOICES to be heard”, financed by JUGEND für Europa and the European Solidarity Corps.