A much awaited experience
In the beginning of 2020, just a few days before things rapidly started to get serious and all of a sudden lockdown started in Spain, I discovered the European Solidarity Corps. As I started browsing through its international projects, I immediately knew I would want to participate in one of them. In fact, I had just gone back home from a trip around Europe in which I just fell in love with the city of Bratislava, so it was of course one of my main options - if not the main one.
And so, here I am, just a few months of complete and total chaos later. Living on my own for the first time in my life in a city that to me is fascinating and even though it isn’t so large, it has a lot to offer to anyone willing to embrace it.
I won’t say it’s all positive, and of course I didn’t expect otherwise, as this experience implies many changes to everyday life and it all happens so fast - you find yourself in a foreign country where you don’t know anyone for longer than a week, a day, maybe a few minutes. Even though you haven’t spent a lot of time there yet, there’s a weird feeling about it... Even if you’re not thinking about it, deep down you know it’s for a long time, and you end up even missing the smell of your hometown. Yep, that same town you were too tired of, now it’s your time to appreciate it. It’s bittersweet but, to be honest, I’m loving it here.
I’m so glad I got to meet other fellow volunteers, who were helpful and welcoming on a whole new level since the moment we met. Of course I miss my friends (and family) at home, but I don’t feel alone at all - I think that the fact that we’re all alone here makes us feel closer to each other and it provides a new way of bonding with one another. Desperation, maybe? Don’t get me wrong, I think life is about sharing moments with others, so it’s a great thing that we connected so fast. But I also enjoy my time alone. I feel so fortunate to be able to go for long walks (and I mean it: LONG walks) in the forest every morning after my orientation training. The area around my flat to me is just perfect.
As I’m writing this, Adam and the Ants’ “Stand and Deliver” is playing in the background at the BDC office. Oh my god, that’s (oddly) an emotional one - my mom loves Adam and the Ants. I miss you, mom! And please don’t worry too much about me, I’m taking care of myself and I’ll be back home soon for Christmas!
So yeah, all in all I’m super excited about these 10 months of volunteering in Bratislava. I hope I’ll be able to participate in some of the projects I’ll be helping to organize because they’re such a huge opportunity to be useful and to improve the lives of the local community. I’m really looking forward to live these next months to the fullest, to explore as many places as I can, to meet incredible people, to train my creativity and last but not least, to learn everything I can about what being a volunteer means.
Foto a text: Irene Rodríguez Pérez
Irene je dobrovoľníčka na projekte Európske zbory solidarity v Bratislavskom dobrovoľníckom centre. Projekt bol podporený z projektu EÚ Európsky zbor solidarity.