Michaela Bachl – my experience far from home

Michaela Bachl is a young girl from Altenberg-by-Linz, Austria. She is full of ideas and loves to play with children. Her stay in Romania involved a lot of work, traveling and hanging out with friends. Below, you can read part of her EVS experience as she calls it: far far away from home.

Michaela Bachl - AT

My volunteer experience began on 4th of October 2014, so now I am here almost 7 months. Before I came to Romania I thought that the country is really poor and that it will be completely different from Austria.
On the one hand this expectations where true, because it is completely different from my home, but on the other hand this country is not as poor as I thought. Actually there are many really beautiful places to discover. For me it was the right decision to do my EVS in Romania.

Some volunteers will say life in Baia Mare is like a dream or like holidays, because it doesn’t feel like work. For me it still doesn’t feel like real work, that I am so far away from home and that I live alone in a completely different country. But do you want to know why it doesn’t feel like real work? We are really free on doing what we like. Yes of course we have our schedule and our activities, but nobody forces us to teach the children one specific topic or play one kind of game. No, we can do which activities we want, as long as the teachers in the schools and kindergartens agree with our plans.

All the volunteers in my association are teaching in a non formal way, so we are free to be creative and discover different methods of learning.  For example I went to my German classes and played with the children “Simon sagt”, to teach them the parts of the human body and I saw that they really enjoyed it. I also tried it in an English class with “Simon says” and what a surprise they liked it too.

[quote]Before EVS I didn’t go to schools like a ”teacher” and I was not really used to it, it was hard at first, even if the teachers were in the rooms, the pupils were loud and didn’t listen that much to me. Another problem was the language, because I was not speaking Romanian at all and they were not so good in speaking German or English, but as time went by I learned Romanian and they started to listen more on what I was saying.[/quote]

The children in the kindergartens realized that I do not understand them, so we found a communication method with hands and feet to understand each other. Now I can say I understand what they want to tell me, and if not I am just smiling and they get that I didn’t understand them at all.
Next to my activities I am also travelling a lot with some other volunteers, so my EVS is also a big journey. We went for example to many cities in Romania, like Bucharest, Brasov, Arad and much more. We also went to Chisinau, Dubai, and Sofia. All of these trips were a lot of fun and I saw a lot places, I would have not discovered them if I didn’t do EVS.

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Some of these trips we did by hitchhiking, and some with the very slow trains. Sometimes we felt it would have been faster to walk.

[quote]Before Romania, I have never tried to go from one place to another by hitchhiking, I am not sure if it works out in Austria, but here it does. While travelling in this way I met a lot of interesting people, and I also discovered that the Romanians are really open-minded to strangers. [/quote]

Romanians are such helpful and nice people you can also observe this in daily life. If the people see that you need help they will help you: once my trouser got stuck in the chain of my bike, one guy saw it and immediately helped me and this was not the only situation like this. I am really happy that I chose Romania as my “home-country” for 8 months.

In total I can’t say many bad things of my life now. Of course I miss my family and my friends, and some other things at home, like my comfortable bed at home, but here I learned so much things and I re-discovered myself. Because of that I feel really good here. I enjoyed the last months and I will also enjoy the following months until I have to go home again, back to reality and away from one of the best times in my life.

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Michaela is part of the EVS project called   ”Carnaval Plus” and she is staying with us for 8 months. The project is funded by the European Commission through the Erasmus+ Programme and implemented by Team for Youth Association. Part of her service is helping teachers with German lessons in schools and high schools in Baia Mare and in rural areas. She is also organizing seminars on different themes like Human Rights and Violence against women and preparing animation activities with children in kindergartens.