My first impressions from Romania

Florian Damowsky, 18, Germany

 After two months of painful waiting, I could finally start my EVS project in Baia Mare on the 5th of October, this year. After saying ”Goodbye” to everyone at home, there I was with my co-volunteer at the airport in Frankfurt. Both full of excitement and curiosity and expectations regarding all those new things we would get to know. Will I like the city and my flatmates? Will I be good at what I’m doing and how are the other volunteer are going to be like. After a “small stop” (7 hours) in Bucharest, we finally reached our destination in the evening. At the airport we got picked up by Remus and Mădălina – who we both really liked from the beginning due to their humor and friendliness – which made the first hours in Baia Mare something Dorothee and I won’t forget. To mention it right from the beginning: Almost nothing was like I imagined it to be. Everything was different but still I enjoyed those two weeks a lot!

I share an apartment with three girls (lucky me): Jessica, Marie and Dorothee, who are from Italy, France and Germany. We live in a nice, small 6-rooms apartment, which consists of 4 bedrooms, a kitchen and a bathroom. Unfortunately my French mates don’t speak English that well, but nevertheless the four of us became friends really quickly and we already share everything, which is a unique experience for me. Although we can’t communicate sometimes due to some language barriers we can always rely on each other. Using your hands all to the time to communicate is more fun than I thought.

We are a group of lots of volunteers (so many that I give up counting them and just write they are a lot). We come from so many different countries like Austria, Portugal, Spain, Italy, France, Kenya, Germany and New Caledonia (don’t ask me where that is… I thought it’s close to Spain but apparently it isn’t). Because we are so many here at Team for Youth Association it was surprisingly easy to find friends to hang out with and after just 2 days we were sitting together talking until late in the night (of course we quit after 10 pm, rules are rules). This quite surprised me because I would have thought this process would need more time to develop but it was one important reason why I enjoyed my first two weeks in this new country so much.

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In the project, called “Rural-urban”, I teach English in high schools in rural and urban areas (who would have thought that when reading the project’s name?) and support the educators in kindergarten. I personally really enjoy my work in the kindergarten a lot. For now the language barrier is a little annoying but I hope that with the help of my Romanian lessons I can change that. But the kids are really cute and I already love them. The workers in the kindergarten were really welcoming and do everything to support us. My work in the high schools will start next week but the introduction to different classes was a good start and I’m really motivated to start this new task next week.

The staff here is really helpful and I’m not saying that because they will read this. Everybody welcomed me really friendly and when we have questions or insecurities they are always there. Everything that was promised when we applied happened here quite fast (the phone card is awesome) and if something is missing in the flats it’s always fixed really quickly although we are some many. When we have to find something new, e.g. a building, local volunteers assist us and so it was not confusing at all to find your way through the city. Furthermore they make activities for us that are really fun on the one hand but on the other hand help us to get to know each other better. The city hunt where e.g. we had to dance Macarena in public or buy the cheapest train ticket (which was really difficult but my friend Baptiste luckily has a talent for using gestures) was really fun. One of my favorite memories so far was the trip to a rural area where could ride horses or try some sort of rope- trail, which was a lot of fun. The local people there were really friendly and the food they cooked for us was delicious. All in all the people here in Romania are friendly and always try to help you even if they might not speak your language at all they try everything to solve your problem which makes life much easier here.

To sum up, I enjoyed my first days in Romania so much and I can’t wait for the rest of my time. With this staff and the great volunteers and my fun work time will fly by.