Sanja in Bremen, Germany // 1st Report

“To write or to procrastinate a bit more” is a thought that arises in my mind next to the feeling of wanting to stay coddled in a warm blanket for a little longer. It’s a feeling I am very familiar with from all of the years, spent studying, writing projects and finishing applications. But still – it’s a bit different this time. There are no authors to cite, no sources to take in consideration and no research data to base my writing on. Only a bunch of feelings, thoughts, realizations and a big question : “How to put all of what I’ve experienced in this four month into a one page report?”

“The easiest way to do it sometimes really is simply to do it”, I encourage myself while sitting on the couch that once felt so familiar to me. I’m back in Slovenia, for the first time after leaving it in September.

I emptied my cozy room in an old student dorm around four months ago. It was quite a relaxing experience, packing everything in boxes and deciding what to keep and what to leave behind. There was no space for all of the books, decorations and objects that I’ve gathered during my student years in a small travelling bag I decided to take with me. At the same time, I felt like there was no need for me to take all of the hiking gear, summer clothes, anxieties and fears that have been part of my everyday life during that hot Slovenian summer.

Leaving the city and the people that have been my shelter for so long did not feel quite as terrifying as I had expected it to be. There is a special comfort in uncomfortableness of sitting in a bus for 10+ hours, not knowing where exactly it is taking me and what is awaiting there. The expectations of what can not be expected rising up in the head while the wheels turn, singing the song of the famous German Autobahn and new opportunities, that lie ahead.

My first week in Bremen felt like a new pearl in a necklace with a clear pattern – it begun where the last one in Slovenia ended. Once again I found myself in an empty room. As the days started to get full of new people and experiences ranging from concerts, movie nights, cuisine evenings and work tasks, so did my living space. Cleanliness of the room was replaced by a tidy chaos in which I can feel at home so easily. The same happened to my vocabulary. German already sounds more like a language and less like a distant murmuring of random people on the tram. And not to forget – I even managed to find the same plants I’ve fallen in love with back in Slovenia. They smell just as nice here in Germany.

Looking back now, it seems like time has just flown by. Slowly I got more and more detached from the vision of future I was holding myself accountable to reach. Choosing masters program, getting a “serious” job, settling down… All of the expectations that were once so prominent in my head, got a bit lost in a mixture of feelings, new challenges and discoveries that volunteering abroad can offer.

I’m not saying life has magically come back together and all of the pieces of my confused mind connected into a meaningful artwork. I haven’t changed that much after all. It has only been four months and even though I am far from knowing what I’d like to do with my life, at least I have an idea of what I’m enjoying being part of right now. Working in a garden, inventing new workshops, organizing a clothes exchange party, cooking for a group of 50 people… Creating interesting projects, finding ideas for impactful gatherings, navigating across the map of unknown opportunities, getting attached to people I’ve only met and cycling across the city that has welcomed me so warmly. It’s funny how my bike now takes me places my mind has never allowed me to visit before.

That reminds me of the question a nice neighbor asked me today. “Have you already become a German”, he said – with a grin on his face. I didn’t know what to answer. To get caught in a debate of what being a German means would take more time that I am willing to spend on a random cold Monday morning conversation. So I just smiled and shook my head. Now I have an idea of a quite cringeworthy, but honest response for myself – “No, a German not. But Sanja I want to be someday – that’s what I am continuing to become.”

It’s a long process I guess, but it is moving more rapidly than my thoughts when I try to grasp for it. Quite similar to the volunteering year itself. One third of it has passed, but two more are there, waiting for me. I’m already excited about what they will bring.


Sanja is hosted by NaturKultur e.V. on our project financed by the European Solidarity Corps and Jugend für Europa.