“How did Macedonia change me? “Well, I wake up smiling. The sun shines bright in Macedonia and it shines straight into my room with the mountains as my very first view.
Hey there! My name is Clarissa and I am 19 years old. Right now I live in Skopje, the capital of Macedonia. I volunteer in journalism and youth work. It’s been four months that I left behind my tiny German village.
Really quickly I learned that Macedonia is relaxed. I don’t own a calendar anymore. I grin when punctuality is a fluid term and meetings are postponed for two hours. Macedonian people like to take breaks. “Ajde, stop working and enjoy the sun”, I hear every day.
However, my workdays are quite diverse and full! Last week I recorded a podcast with a Finnish woman. We hosted a workshop on stereotypes. We did interviews with restaurant owners about the Euro Cup – Macedonia qualified for the first time ever after beating Germany! Once a week we have German conversation classes on Zoom. So we work on our magazine “VOICES”.
When I finish work, I usually discover the city with my friends. Skopje is a capital but to me it never felt like that. After only four months I run into people on a daily basis. I hardly make plans for my evenings because I know I will meet people anyway. The coffee shops and bars are full – no matter what time of the day!
To me, May feels like midsummer. “What do you mean this isn’t midsummer? It will be even stronger? ” I wonder every single day. Summer temperatures might reach 40 degrees and I am emotionally preparing for that already.
There are many places to calm down in loud and lively Skopje. When you walk to Kale Fortress, you have a view all around Skopje: I see a surprising combination of socialist buildings, endless amount of statues, a pirate ship and this huge monument of Alexander the Great. Skopje never ceases to entertain me.
While I regard the panorama view I think about my last months here:
I caught Corona. I was asymptomatic and I stayed home with my two roommates for 24 days. During one quarantine night, we had to take our room to the hospital. The ambulance driver served as a comedic relief: In all this misery, the guy tried to get our phone number instead of helping my friend.
After leaving quarantine, I had the possibility to see more of Macedonia with my friends.
We rented a car and traveled through Macedonia. We discovered beautiful waterfalls, lakes and mountains, we had long nights at the campfire and I slipped into a river.
So what can I say after four months in this very different country: I am still scared to ride a bike in the city. I am saddened about the little amount of jobs. I am frustrated about the healthcare. I am surprised how divided the Macedonian and Albanian population are. But Macedonia became my home because of the loving people!
I love that there is always delicious food, loud music and dancing people. I fell in love with the hospitality of the locals and the uncertainty what the next day might offer.
Clarissa is hosted by the Volunteers Center Skopje on the project “VOICES to be heard”, which is financed by the Europan Solidarity Corps and Jugend für Europa.