“The most difficult step ever is the first step. It comes with doubts, uncertainties, and all sort of fears.”
A few months ago I wouldn’t believe if someone told me that I am going to live in completely different country, about which I didn’t really new a thing. Romania. What did I know about it? The place on the map and some stereotypes. But I decided to give this EVS volunteering opportunity a try. Also a try for myself – will I be able to live for six months away from my family and friends, the places I know and love. I packed all my things in 20 kg and in the early morning of the first day of spring I said goodbye to my family, friends and my home country. A girl who has never traveled alone left and had to do everything by her own.
There was no direct flight from my country to Romania. So at first I went to Milan. I had 8 hours left to another flight, so I decided to visit the city centre of Milan. I had to find where to leave my heavy luggage, where to buy shuttle bus tickets, where to get off and which metro to take. And it was that moment when I understood that for the following months I will have to speak only in English. It was hard at first – remember the words, ask clear questions and, of course, understand what they are telling you. After exploring the city, I went back to the airport and took a flight, which brought me here – in Timisoara.
First impression – scary – I need to reach a person who is waiting for me at the airport, but my phone card is not working. When I see them, ZURY president Andreea and her brother Catalin, I feel more relaxed – very warm greeting and with a cup of tea we are waiting for another volunteer coming from France. After he arrives we go to our new home. There are two more volunteers waiting for us. All the way I was thinking how our place will look like. Will it be an apartment or a house, will it be cosy or not? It was so strange to enter the house which was going to be your home for the next six months. Once we arrived Andreea and Catalin told us the important things, ordered pizza and left telling that they will bring one more volunteer in the midnight.
So here we are – four completely different souls, from different backgrounds, with different experiences. So different, but so alike at the same time. Two French guys, Italian girl and me, Lithuanian. We talked about our life before coming here – what we studied, what we worked, spoke about our countries, music there. I had brought cards and we decided to play some games which are popular in our country. At first it was really hard to explain, nobody was used to talking in English all the time, everyone had different accents, but we managed to understand each other. One thing I thought of before coming here – how we will joke about something, it seemed to be mission impossible to say something funny not in your own language. But here was nothing to worry about – at first day we already laughed together and from that moment I knew that everything is going to be ok. We waited for volunteer from Spain and went to sleep.
The next day we met our coordinator Marina, she explained us needed things and showed a way to the mall, there we spend a lot of time buying food for our big volunteer family. We did some get to know each other tasks, got acquainted what they expect from us and what the project goals are. The next day we met one of the mentors – Alberto – he took us to the city centre for the first time, showed his favourite places there, which were unique and full of locals, and I was there, having a coffee and thinking that I am already in love with this beautiful city.
In the morning we decided to spend some time in our yard – we had a really funny snow fight, built a snowman which we called Zuzu(because of the advertisement often shown on tv). We made some funny rules in the house, like enjoy Zuzu(strange advertisement), enjoy reggaeton(because our Spanish guy doesn’t like it), enjoy plastic people(because of the funny review we have read about one club). After a few days we met our Romanian language teacher Lore for the first time. She told us about the city and introduced to the Romanian language. Oh, those special letters… I wish soon I will be easier to pronounce them. Then we met our mentor Adelina for the first time, and Alberto joined us later. We went to try typical Romanian food and it kind of reminded me of Lithuanian food, well, we are also eastern Europeans – we know how to cook.
First week was all about accommodation, getting used to the place, people and different lifestyle. Getting used to very friendly car drivers, who stops all the time to let you cross the street, getting used to busses, which don’t go by the schedule and you never know if you are going to miss a bus or not. From the second week we started going to the office and preparing for volunteering activities. At first it was hard to come back to the normal day routine – get up early in the morning, go to the office and not to miss a bus (because they really don’t go by the schedule), work on our presentations, and also have Romanian language classes two times per week. In office we were busy making presentations on topics of our project, we kept improving them, presenting them in front of each other so often that it became a casual thing in our daily life. From trembling voice and shaking hands in first presentation I became more and more confident, and I could finally present in English fluently, because it is almost a month we live here and communicate in English all the time.
Well, first presentation at school was quite challenging, but now I know what can I expect and what can I prepare more for unexpected situations, when something doesn’t go by the plan. Our group of volunteers are going to Bucharest in the last week of March. There we will have a Mid-Arrival training with other foreign volunteers from all over Romania. I can’t wait to improve my knowledge about volunteering and make new friends there!
See you next time!
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