How does one start the first article? With the preparation, the seminars, the new friends, all the packing, the journey, the arrival, the first impressions, the people here, the language, the centre, the town, the flat??? The last few days and weeks have been intense and packed with exciting impressions, that I want to share with you here.
First things first: How do you prepare yourself for a year in Sarajevo? Luckily the other volunteers and I got support with the organisation of the formal things and the cultural preparation from our sending organisation “Initiative Christen für Europa e.V.” (ICE) that invited us to two seminars in order to prepare us for our volunteering service. Thank you very much to all the people involved! While we spoke about all the formal things within a small group of German volunteers at the first seminar, the group became much larger at the second seminar. In August about 50 volunteers from all over the world met in Dresden in order to share their visions, to speak about different cultures, traditions and lifestyles and of course to learn new languages in different courses. My first steps in the Bosnian language have been (and still are) very clumsy, but nevertheless I was surprised of how much basic knowledge we gained in this short amount of time. Hvala puno Luise! In our free time we had the chance to get to know a lot of interesting people and to build up a lot of new friendships. I hope you are all going to have an amazing year, you will gain a lot of new experience and hopefully we will see each other again one day!
Back at home my last two weeks were fully packed with the last things to organize, with a lot of goodbyes and farewells from my family and friends and a lot of packing. It has been an exhausting, emotional, sad, but also very beautiful time.
At 1st September my journey started by heading to the airport at five o’clock in the morning. After a short flight I landed in Sarajevo, where I was welcomed very warmly. I was immediately relieved as I noticed that I could communicate with my mentor in English without any problems. Great start! They brought me directly to the Youth Centre, where I will do my volunteering service. There I had the opportunity to introduce myself to all the colleagues that welcomed me very warmly as well and invited me to drink a “bosanska kafa” with them on the sunny terrace. From there you have a wonderful view over Sarajevo.
Then I was brought to my flat, but there was not much time to unpack as another volunteer took me to the centre of the town in order to show me a lot of things. The following day I also got a wonderful personal tour that showed me a lot of known and unknown places of Sarajevo. During my first few days here I walked through the beautiful old town, visited a mosque, a catholic and an orthodox church, “climbed” (okay, we took the lift) the highest tower of the Balkan region (Twist Tower), where you have an amazing view over the city, tried different Bosnian specialties, visited the beautiful national library, walked to a Jewish cemetery and saw, experienced and learned much more about the Bosnian mentality and their point of views. It is great to experience that the people here are very open, that they always want to talk and discuss with me and that they are very willing to share their opinions about politics, society, religion, lifestyles and a lot more with me.
Although I still need some time to get familiar with everything , I am already fascinated by Bosnia, Sarajevo, my working place and all the amazing people that made my start here easier! Let’s get this year started...