Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Who else wants to get to know other cultures?

Who else wants to get to know other cultures?
by Radu Brănișcan

I was looking for an EVS to spend my summer in a very useful way and after a month of searching I’ve found it. It was called Multi Kulti, a project by Polites Association with 10 volunteers from 5 different countries that lasts 1 month and a half in Szczecin, Poland. I’ve applied and got accepted. I was very happy and at the moment of writing this article only 10 days have passed since arriving here.

I was the first volunteer to arrive in Szczecin and in the train station Kasia was expecting me. After arriving in my room in the dormitory the long way to the 4th floor was rewarded with some sweets and a fridge full of food (for all 10 volunteers of course).

I was eager to meet the other volunteers from Bulgaria, Italy, Spain and France and after the first workshops I got to know them better: what they like, don’t like and their personality.

When I meet people from different countries is like I have visited that country because of specific and unique cultural background that person has: language, cuisine, way of thinking and much more.

The youth are happy to talk with foreigners and help them if they need. Also, some of them asked why we choose to volunteer in such a city which for them isn’t so great. I think they don’t see what and how many opportunities it can offer to them. It’s all about the mentality and what advice they’ve got from school, parents and friends.

After almost over 10 days here, I’ve met the Polish kids from the project, play with them and have a lot of fun together. I’m learning from them and they are learning from me. It’s such a wonderful and hard thing to do in the same time.  But the rewards from the kids are huge:  energy, happiness and creativity. I hope they will travel one day to my country, Romania, if not then to see the importance of learning English as a foreign language. If you like to push the limits to think in ways you never taught before, to experience, have fun than English is a must.

In the end I want to say thanks to all the people and volunteers at Polites Association for their help and support. If you the reader is thinking of going on an EVS, try it, you don’t have anything to lose, instead you have only to gain!

I’m the guy with the blue t-shirt.
I was organizing the kids and EVS volunteers for the start of a fun game called the Snake
Radu is one of 10 European Volunteers and is taking part in a MULTI KULTI project co-financed by Erasmus+ Youth

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Szczecin- a city made in a French way with German order and Polish spirit

Being one of the biggest cities in Poland, Szczecin is the second Polish city that I’ve been after Wroclaw but they are totally different. I can not say what were my feelings at the first moment but I didn’t feel like in an unknown city. After that I realized that behind the landscape there is something more…

Infrastructure and landscape

When I arrived at the station in the city I didn’t notice a big difference in the city compared to the big cities in Bulgaria. I mean that the spirit of post-socialist countries is still sensible and here. The buildings at the central part are old style with a lot of pretty ornaments and solid, massive structures. The cathedrals are also very impressive with their number and architecture. I learned that Szczecin was planned to be build like Paris and it can be easily noticed by the orientation of the boulevards. You can hardly be lost even without a map in your hands.

Culture shock

I am used to see how in Bulgaria just a few of the people obey the rules and it is a little chaos- people driving like crazy, everybody crossing the streets wherever they want, drivers and bicycle riders in a battle for the road and so on. Here in Szczecin things are much more different- people wait for the green light to cross, drivers don’t mess with bicycles because riders have alleys and everything looks so simple and good structured.
Other advantage is on every bus and tram station you have the graphic of the public transport and in every single moment you know how much you have to wait. And after that when you get in the public transport you notice the GPS map with all the stations on it and your current position on it. It was such a relief for me, because usually in my city I am never sure when and if the bus will come at all. It was not a long time ago when the city was still a territory of Germany and these German habits make you feel safety and relaxed.

People, pierogi and beer

On the street, at the tram, at the supermarket, in the park…pretty girls, well dressed people and a lot of seniors. Most of them seem to be kind and actually what I noticed- it is so. If you make them understand what you need, no matter in Polish or English language, they will probably help you. For me it is not that hard to communicate because it occurred that Polish is very close to Bulgarian language and most of the words are the same but with a bit different pronunciation. Traditional Polish kitchen is also quite similar to the Bulgarian and of course very tasty as well. The ways of preparation of the different dishes and the products are close to this one in my country. But what was a big surprise for me- Poland, the country of vodka is a place where not many people drink that specific for here drink. It is mostly preferred the beer. You can find so many brands and varieties here that one month would not be enough to try all of them.

It is just less than two weeks but I feel like I was living here since a long time and I enjoy it a lot. I hope that for the time that I will be in Szczecin, I will spend precious moments with colorful people that I will remember for my whole life. The best is yet to come!

Krasimir Rusev 

Krasimir is one of 10 European Volunteers and is taking part in a MULTI KULTI project co-financed by Erasmus+ Youth Programme.  

Friday, 25 July 2014

Erasmus vs Volunteering: Liverpool VS Szczecin

“Patience and Tolerance are the key”

Hello everyone! My name is Javier, but everybody call me Soto, I'm 23 years old and I am the typical spanish who has been in an Erasmus program just with spanish people. This is the second time in my life I'm living out of my home, the first time was in Liverpool from nine wonderful months, and now, during one month and a half, it's time to give a chance to Szczecin.

I've been living here just one week and a half, but you don't need more time to realise of the big difference between be in an Erasmus program and be in a volunteering.

First of all, and although it can seem stupid to say, being in a volunteering is not being in an Erasmus program. I say this because before to arrive to Szczecin I thought that this it would be more or less like Liverpool, but fortunately or unfortunately this has nothing to do with it. There my life was about be with Spanish people and parties, here my life is surrounded by a mix of Italian, French, Bulgarian, Romanian, Polish people and less party (if you compare it with Erasmus), that for now is not bad.

Then in addition, during my stay in Liverpool I was living in a student flat in where I had my own room and my own bathroom, here I share my flat with an Italian punk (Noodle Guy for the rest of superheroes) and I share bathroom with two French guys and a couple of Polish. At first, also because I didn't know my roommate, I felt the urgent need to have my own personal space, but little by little I have grown accustomed to the presence of "intruders" in my territory and I think I can survive.

Third difference: language. Have you ever tried to learn Polish? (very typical...) Well, I'm sorry to inform you that you didn't choose the easiest one. Before coming I knew more or less that the Polish language was hard, but until I arrived I did not realize that the structure of my jaw is not made to speak Polish. And then moreover there is the issue that English is not abundant here (but still it is better than the level of Spain...), so if you find some Polish that can help you, you better invite him/her to drink a beer if you see him/her in a party later (Tyskie is pretty good).

And finally, the difference of differences, in this case comparing Poland with the rest of the world: the zebra crossings. Not a single time on your life you will see a Polish crossing a pedestrian crossing with the light on red, NEVER! May already be at 5 in the morning in a small suburb where almost nobody lives that if the traffic light is on red the Polish patiently will wait for the green light.

Well, that's it for now, as Erasmus similarities to mention the joy of making great friends in a short space of time and my return to Skype (once a week with Mommy and Daddy because if not they bother with me... ñiñiñiñiñi)

I hope you have found this article at least enjoyable, because for me it has been a pleasure.

Take care,

Javier is one of 10 European Volunteers and is taking part in a MULTI KULTI project co-financed by Erasmus+ Youth Programme.