Meet Mari(a)

Hello! I’m Mari(a), I come from Spain and I am going to try to sum up my last eight months volunteering at the Special School nr 11 and living in Kraków.IMG_20160602_123621811

I always say that the best adventures are those you don’t plan in advance. And in this case, it happened to be true. An autumn night, bored at home, I was checking facebook and by chance I saw a post from an EVS vacancy that looked nice. “I’ll ask, why not?” I thought. Some weeks after I was in Kraków. Oops.

If I have to describe my experience shortly, I would say it has been a tornado of feelings. I laughed, I cried, I got angry, I felt down, I felt euphoric. Sometimes all of them at the same time -yes, that is possible-. When you don’t have your best friends to speak with next to you -as Spaniards would do, meet for a coffee or a beer and have the longest conversation ever-, you have to figure it out somehow, so in my case I started to write a diary.

IMG_20160623_102019488So I remember how I woke up on the first of December, I had my breakfast with instant coffee (the worst creation ever, but this is Poland), and I spent my first day in the school. I would like to say it was great, but actually it was a huge disaster: people didn’t know English, everything was so unusual, I understood nothing. “Just look how we work today” they said. So many thoughts came to my mind: How am I going to communicate here? With signs? Google translator?! Where am I? What will become of me? Will I even survive two weeks? And I came back home as tired as if I went to three triathlons in a row. But it seems that I have finally survived.

RIMG1947Even though at the beginning I had mixed feelings towards the school, at the end it happened to be a very thoughtful and nice experience. I have learnt a lot from teachers, assistants, students, and volunteers. A lot about myself and my limits, my skills, my strengths and my weaknesses. A lot about Poland. A bit about life.

We have been doing many different activities in the school during all these months. We even created our own performance and we had our premiere! And we have eaten so many cakes. I have tried every single cake in Kraków, I am sure! But it is not all about the activities we did but about the environment I was in, in my opinion. I could have been a volunteer in a similar place in my hometown, but I am sure it wouldn’t have been the same.

I can’t forget to say that I was so lucky to share my days in the school with three other great volunteers who made my days better, who I shared so many coffees with and who hugged me when I needed a big bear hug (and when I didn’t need it as well) :))

But there is a volunteer life out of the school. And it is just great. I remember how I met all volunteers during the volunteer’s day and after all, so many things started to happen so fast. Impossible to explain in here. Suddenly plans popped up, so maybe you were at home and after ten minutes you were heading to some event, some dinner, some costume party, some whatever. Always something.

Because the volunteer life is an other lifestyle that teaches us really useful skills (EVS teaches me something!): money management (you have to survive with 700 zl per month and you struggle to save money for partying and traveling), cooking (you taste and cook food from so many parts of the world), creativity (you create everything you need from recycled materials, buying furniture is so overrated!), and languages, of course. Plus extra-skills you learn from other volunteers, like decoupage, how to peel a pineapple -yes, that happened-, how to paint Easter eggs and even archery!

12717855_951302788251845_4171789093270771738_nAnd then, it happens that you are so busy doing so many things and, at all once, you realize those eight months that seemed such a long time are over. And suddenly every day you have to bid farewell to a different volunteer. And that is the only bad part of the EVS. But I am sure some of these friendships will last forever -we have already said we will meet when one of the volunteers will get married ;)-. Because without the volunteers, my EVS wouldn’t have been the same!

As a final thing, remember that to nie już koniec but it has just started :)!

Thanks for reading 🙂

Author: Mari(a)

The European Voluntary Service project ‘Youngsters on the move’ is organised within the framework of Erasmus+ KA1 and financed by European Commission.
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