• VolleyballScience

Halfway through

I still can’t believe that it's been half a year since my arrival in Spain. When did the time fly? Que ha pasado? (This is what a Spanish person would say: What happened?)

I look in the mirror and I see another person. I see someone calmer, wiser and more peaceful. I wanted to be independent, so I left my home. I got out of my comfort zone and headed into the unknown. I had no idea what could happen here but took a shot.

Now I am reading my journal and a smile is being brought to my face while turning the pages. I was impatient but scared by this new experience. Moreover, I felt shy and a bit insecure. It wasn’t just a new city, it was a new country.

I still remember the day of my arrival: 15th of September. Alicante Airport seemed so big, my luggage was so heavy and I couldn’t find the bus station. I landed at 11:30 pm and, at that hour, there was no direct bus to Murcia; therefore, I stayed in Alicante at a friend.

C6. That was my bus. But I couldn’t find it. Beyond that, nobody seemed to speak English. I was asking in my broken Spanish about C6, and I had the feeling that no one was paying attention. I was feeling so exhausted, I just wanted to go home. I knew that after midnight the buses would run hourly, and I didn’t want to wait anymore. Finally, I managed to get to the second floor where the bus stop was. One woman pointed to the bus: ‘ Look, it’s the one that departs’. I don’t know how, but I immediately found the strength to run with my 2 big suitcases (one was broken) and got on that bus. The driver saw me running and decided to wait for me. What a beautiful gesture! I will never forget it! Obviously, he was in a hurry and frowned at me, but I responded with a genuine smile of gratitude. That was the first time on the15th of September when I felt safe.

Looking back, I realise how much I‘ve changed in the last 6 months. I’ve been put in tough situations which I`ve never experienced before. But this is how you learn, isn't it? This is how you grow, how you bloom. Thus, that was me, blooming day by day, becoming more and more confident and more open-minded. Today`s Vio is more diplomatic and powerful than older Vio. Furthermore, I have improved my communication skills a lot, particularly active listening skills. I have always loved talking, but I encountered difficulties when listening to others. I have been working on it, and I can see the results. Also, proactivity; I am not the type of person who would come to you and talk about their plans or projects. Or at least, I wasn’t. I am saying it because I realised that I had turned into a proactive person, developing my foresight. This is a great achievement for me. And obviously, I will continue to work on it.

I learnt Spanish. There is still a lot to be learnt, absolutely, but I can now have a conversation without struggling. And I can find my way home if you take my phone and leave me in a random village. My mentor said that we will only be speaking Spanish in order to facilitate and speed up my learning process. This was helpful, even though I found it a bit unfair initially. Whenever there were free outdoor dancing classes, I was there, coming out of nowhere, smiling and trying to fit in. In the beginning, it was hard, very hard, I couldn’t follow their discussions, and I felt like an outsider. But better days came and step by step I was able to create a warmer environment in Spain. I was meeting more people and started to form bonds. I was no longer completely alone in a new country, I knew whom to call in case of a problem or simply for a talk.

Within my volunteering project, I met many people with whom I worked on diverse activities and from whom I learnt a lot. I am still learning, actually, we keep in touch and share our experiences. They played an important role in improving my self-awareness and empathy. I am very grateful for having the chance to get to know them.

Likewise, I am thankful for the less pleasant moments because I have learnt how to better understand people’s actions. I learnt that some people simply don’t want to be helped or don’t want to have you around them and that’s okay; we always have to respect each other’s will.

Regarding the chores in my new home, there weren’t too many changes because I was used to being tidy. Well, to be honest, washing the dishes wasn’t quite my favourite activity, but now I find it really relaxing. I cook a lot and try different recipes on a daily basis. I wash my clothes, this is the new thing. Back in Romania, mom was in charge of the washing machine. But now look at me, such a lovely responsible young lady.

I am happy about the outcome of this experience and I am looking forward to discovering more and more about myself and about my surroundings.

#EUvolleyballScience #EUsolidarityCorps #Viorela

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