Settling into the Culture

My Journey to Bitola
September 25, 2017
Comparison of Cultures – Esra Gullu
September 25, 2017

There are some reasons why I decided to do this short-term EVS. First of all, I was looking for new challenges and, for that, I should get out of my comfort zone, which means leave my country for a while in order to share my experience and develop my competences. So, I found this program that allows me to discover another culture, know its tradition and history and meet new people.
The challenge begun at the bus station, when we arrived to Skopje, me and another two Portuguese volunteers – Beatriz Viegas and Diva Carvalho – whom I didn’t know before. We realize that our mobile phones don’t work here in Macedonia and we didn’t had internet there. As consequence, we didn’t know how to inform the organization that we had arrived and that we were going to Bitola. It was a bad experience, at the beginning, because there’s a few people speaking English in this country and, besides that, no one was available to help us. Portuguese would
never do this, so we were truly shocked! Fortunately, once I never give up, I tried, one last time, to ask a girl inside the bus that helped us. First lesson: good people exists even out of my beautiful country. God bless her!
When we finally arrived to Bitola, the second biggest Macedonian city received us dressed in white and with negative degrees (and I was so warm in Madeira Island…). But I was happy because I finally felt the snow and we did together, for the first time, our gentleman snowmen called Zé Tuga.
Here, in SFERA – Macedonia, a non-profit organization, our tasks are: organize workshops, give Portuguese lessons, promote events and activities with the local population and help SFERA in preparation and carrying out youth
projects (Erasmus+). Plus, we are TRYING to learn Macedonian language (in this moment, we are all able to draw that beautiful Cyrillic characters and read).
A month later, the weather is better. Here, in this small and nice city, the food is good and cheap, but they don’t have a lot of typical dishes from Macedonia. Regarding to the cultural activities, Bitola it’s the opposite of the Europe, which is richer, and the few monuments that they have here look abandoned. In terms of culture, unless the coffee (they can spend all afternoon at the café!), they are completely different from us: less open-minded and closed. However, I met some Macedonians and I can say that they are really kind and good-hearted.
About the short-term EVS, I’m enjoying this experience and I will strongly recommend it to my friends. I’m looking forward to be able to do some basic conversation in Macedonian because when we are teaching Portuguese to our two classes they are so good and I feel ashamed during my Macedonian classes. So, maybe I could write a sentence
in the next report (I hope!).
Bitola, 01.03.2017
Belinda Sá

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