Came to Macedonia was a really fast decision. To be honest I didn´t thought a lot about it before say “yes, I am going” and even before applying for the place. Tree or two days before coming I start thinking if it was a good decision and seeing how far Macedonia is from Portugal, I was afraid do don´t fell good in such a different country.
After a trip of more than 24 hours (yes, we don´t have good flight connections) I arrived in Alexander the Great Airport. And, I was well received since the first moment here. I remember I get kind of lost in the bus station and a guy literally went with me to buy the ticket. On my way to Bitola I needed to send a message to Milcho saying witch time I would arrive and, of course I didn´t had Macedonian number so I thought “I need to ask someone to lend me the mobile phone” but then I realize the old lady next to me didn´t know how to speak English. My first thought was “and now… what can I do”. But to my surprise she was really trying to understand me and in the end she did it and she helped me and all the trip she was super nice. Even called a friend that knew how to speak English.
This first 2 experiences describe every single day of my stay here. Macedonian people are the most helpful ones I´ve ever met. I discovered I don´t need to speak to understand someone.
Now, that I stop to write this text I realize I had 2 months full of activities and trips. I don´t know even from here to start.
First, I came here to do upcycling activities with a group of kids with 10/11 years old from one of the local schools. It was a real challenge for me but at the same time one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. We did musical instruments, jump ropes, organizers, Easter things… and they were always participate and sweet. In our last week we did a quiz with some facts we gave to them during the 2 months and they remembered most of them. It was amazing see them improving their knowledge and conscience about the environment.
Since my first week here I am also going to the rehabilitation center. I play with the kids and help them giving food. I think this is one of the activities I enjoyed the most, everyday arriving there and leaving I receive hugs, and smiles. From the kids and from the ladies that work there. I already fell part of the center.
I also started my own activity, the upcycling workshop. Were we were doing useful things using things that were suppose go to trash. My idea was to pass the value of reusing materials in a way to help the environment.
I continue the language exchange, a weekly event on a café where we talk about different topics in English in a way to help people from here improve their English. In a beginning it was cool because I love philosophic topics but, in the end, I had a group of friends. It´s something that I am going to miss for sure.
We had the movie nights in our house, every week we choose a movie, and, in the end, we talked about it. It was a way to make people go out of home and socialize in a different way. We had really good time with people and this event allowed me to meet lots of people.
I also gave Portuguese lessons and it was something totally out of my comfort zone, I found my self learning Portuguese to be able to teach it. It was a strange and amazing felling to teach my mother language and see that people really want to leaner it. In the end, again, my students became my friends and it always make me happy when I pass to some of them at the street and they say “olá” or some Portuguese sentence.
We had cultural nights, were we show a little bit of Portugal and Portuguese food. It was a challenge to cook and try to find the right things here. Also, it was super nice to explain about our cousin and our traditions to people of a culture I am living in and try to make connections between Portugal and Macedonia.
Besides my activities it was always cool to participate in others volunteer’s events. We were almost a family and we were always trying to be present in everything from each other’s.
To finish, I also travelled quite a lot. Discovered magic places here in Macedonia like Matka canyon, krusevo or Ohrid. I had the opportunity to see a little from other countries in Balkans like Serbia, Montenegro and Kosovo. I had amazing months here and I am going to miss Bitola and the food (specially cheese in the oven). But I am sure I am going to come back here, so