Heyo! I am Joseph, a wannabe Instagram influencer (@josephorf) -just kidding, I'm not a snob- and I want to share with you some of my thoughts! No, it’s not going to be a boring article, keep on reading!
Do you support the idea of “YOLO”? Because I didn’t, until I received an email from European Solidarity Corps! Yes, you heard that right; ESC made me support the idea of YOLO! Childish? Maybe, but let me make things clear first.
Imagine getting an email during the period of a pandemic, offering you a place for a volunteering job abroad for 2 months! Most of us would probably reject the offer without second thought, but obviously I didn’t! “Why not? YOLO” was my first thought, so I immediately replied to the email and… that’s it - I had an interview a few days later! I was so excited for this new opportunity but at the same time so stressed for the unknown.
The biggest thank you goes to my best friend and my sister, who supported this idea from the very first moment, without doubting about me, at all. I love you
(last selfies before leaving)
Without wanting to become too wordy, 2 weeks after I was in Bulgaria, 100% ready to widen my horizons to the fullest! The beginning was kind of weird -and also unpredictable- as I had no idea of what to expect from the whole situation. Thankfully my expectations about the other volunteers were more than fulfilled, as I made so many new friends, from just the first day! You can tell that by the fact that each one of us had a new nickname by the end of the first week!
You can call me “Spaghetti Belly” from now on… You can guess why!
(Food time! Expanding our bellies - as always)
The idea of getting to live, interact and work with people from all over the world, is just mind-blowing for me! The fact that you have the chance to learn about so many new cultures, traditions and languages, makes you realize how “small” each one of us is, compared to the whole world!
Did you even know that in Denmark they call the floor carpet a “floor blanket”? Or maybe that in Azerbaijan the couples have 2 weddings? Let’s not talk about the fact that in Bulgaria when people shake their head left-right means “yes”, while up and down means “no” - SAY WHAT?
As you have already understood, I already consider myself as having another family in Bulgaria; a family consisting of friends from so many different countries! I feel so lucky for having the ability to meet all those amazing people!
(food time - again! Thanks, Antoana!)
Of course, the project is not only about meeting new people, but also about working and cooperating, aiming for a certain goal! Working at an NGO, such as Active Bulgarian Society, was a totally unprecedented experience for me! Most of our daily tasks include organizing events for local people, working on our personal projects or helping the ABS team with more administrative duties.
Every week we have a variety of events, including Chat Clubs, Game O’ Clock or even Sport Events. All of them aim either for a healthier and more active generation, or for giving young people the opportunity to express their thoughts and concerns, while being educated on different topics every time. The fact that I am now working with so many amazing people of my age, sharing our ideas and collaborating, is totally amazing!
We also have the chance to work on our very own personal project, which can be about whatever topic we prefer! Once more, I really love the idea of creating something from the scratch, which -at the end of the day- is going to have a positive impact on other people!
(happy faces at the office - if you ignore Kacper haha)
Having 2 consecutives days off every week, gives us the opportunity to arrange weekend trips to many places all over Bulgaria! Having as a motto “Travelling heals the soul”, I don’t waste any minute during my stay here – every moment is unique! So far, we’ve been to Razlog, Plovdiv, Sofia, Stob and Pazardzhik, and we’ve planned so many more trips for the rest of our stay in Blagoevgrad! Thankfully I couldn’t ask for better friends here, as all of them are travel-addicted (as me)!
(when we visited Razlog)
The funniest part about Bulgaria is most probably the... language, as a big portion of the population is not able to communicate properly in English! So imagine having to order pizza without cheese, using only hand gestures! Although sometimes it gets kind of frustrating, it is still so much fun having to find alternative ways of interaction with others, except from speaking! And at the end of the day we're also improving our non-existing Bulgarian language knowledge.. здравейте! (=Hello)
(daily trip to Stob! As you can see we're always living life... on the edge!)
If you asked me a year ago what my expectations were for next summer, I'd probably answer "just working". Well, you can still say that I am working, but in a totally different way than the one I usually do! I've already understood that knowledge is not only taught in an office or in a classroom, but mostly outdoors, in everyday situations. Having to live all by yourself, to manage your monthly budget, to cook your own food, to communicate with foreigners.. those are lessons which cannot be taught by a teacher, but only by "life". And I am happy to have as "classmates" -in my life lessons- such amazing people!
I also what to mention how beautiful Bulgaria is! I believe 2 months are not enough to experience all of its amazing sceneries! Every city and every village is totally different from the others and has such a bright history, which is not even close to the history of others. Furthermore, being a country full of green places, you have the ability to go hiking whenever you are - even in the middle of Plovdiv, which is the second largest city in Bulgaria! Not to mention about the amazing parks they have here - everything is just so beautiful! Our "small" city, Blagoevgrad, is also a great place to live! Although it is not as big as Sofia or Plovdiv, it is still a location with a variety of things to do and a lot of attractions to visit!
(traveling, traveling and.. traveling!)
As I still have one month left here at ABS, I am very excited for all the new memories waiting for me out there! I’ve never realized how big the world is and how small is our knowledge regarding other countries and cultures, until I’ve joined the “E.S.C.A.P.E.” program! I’m so ready and excited to fill the rest of the pages in my “life-book”, full of new experiences, new people and new images! August 2020 be ready; I’m coming to you full of energy!
This is life! Amazing, Unexpected and Thrilling!