Time is flying...
Three months of my ESC are behind and it is high time to write briefly about my little adventure and my first impressions.
To begin with, I am doing my ESC project in the Child&Youth Center Maxim, Berlin. It took some time till I felt myself a real member of the team and a Berliner. As any other volunteer I got some fears and obstacles, but some wonderful moments, too!
Berlin is a huge city, However, it was unexpectable to me that the airport TEGEL at which I have arrived, would be so small. As soon as I left the plane, I was ready to walk half a kilometer to the package reclaim (as it had usually happened to me before). Even though I saw one at the entrance, I refused to believe it was ours, because it was, firstly, empty, and secondly, it was too quick for me. I didn't notice as I left the security zone and lost my suitcase...
Fortunately, I wasn't alone. My colleges, Eve and Robert, picked me up. They explained me what I did wrong and that I had to wait about an hour till the outbound operation is over. We used this time to have some coffee and get to know each other. Afterwards, Robert led us to the Lost&Found Station (since he was confident about the way, it was clear that I am not the first one who got into such a silly trouble). Another hour of expectation and the torture was over*.
The best part of the day was my arrival to the shared flat. The flat is huge and people with whom I live are very nice. At my first day I have found a postcard and some candies from an ex-volunteer in the drawer. It was such a pleasure to feel to be expected here.
*I personally would recommend, when one is at the TEGEL, s/he should be more attentive! The baggage band is at the entrance and even if it is empty, wait a bit till the first baggages appear. This mistake made many people - I realised it when I was at the Lost&Found Station.
Rollenhagen. It is just the first week and already a trip? Yes! We went to Rollenhagen, a nature paradise, with a huge garden and a lake. We slept in a farm house of our boss's good acquaintance. We lived in a little bit wild conditions, because there was no dish washer, no internet connection and there was an old type of outside toilet and no any normal shower cabin. However, under such circumstances we got closer and got to know each other better.
For this short period of time we did plenty of things: we explored the land around, we swum in the lake, we spent evenings at the campfire with a guitar and beautiful songs and we drew the landscape under conduction of an art teacher.
We had a good rest before the beginning of the real work...
Every month a concert takes place at the Maxim's. Youth and children demonstrate their talents, mostly in a rap, hip hop and rock area. Everybody enjoys it. The first 'Abgang' was absolutely crazy. So many people came to the concert that even the front yard was absolutely full. Some had to peep through the window, to see at least a bit of the concert. It meant of course much work for the Maxim's workers. Even though we may also enjoy the music, we have at the same time to control the situation up to the very end.
Every time is of course different and one can never foresee what it would be like.
Seminar in Hanover. From 8 to 14 October we had our first seminar week. However, it wasn't only a seminar. It rather reminded me of a summer camp: every evening we gathered in the seminar room and talked, played games, watched films and even danced. Twice a week we have a chance to see the city and we have been to the Old Town, Herrenhausen Gardens, City Centre and Nanas. I didn't expect that seminars can be so enjoyable!
My Residence Permit. In comparison to many other volunteers, I don't come to the project directly from my home country. The thing is I was an Au Pair the year before. The question was for me , whether I should go back and get a visa in Russia or if I could just prolong my Residence Permit for another year here. I called the German Embassy in Moscow and was explained that I should apply only in Russia. However, the bureau in Bochum said the opposite. All this made me confused and worried, but I made up spontaneously my mind to apply for the permit on the spot, because travelling there and back was unadvantageous for me.
As soon as one applies for a permit in Germany, he gets a function certificate, a document that is valid as the permit itself, but for a shorter period of time. When I got it in the beginning of August, I was already happy. I was promised that I get my real permit max. in a month. However, it is not that easy. The bureau in Bochum realized later that they cannot actually help me, because in Berlin they make this document in another way. Meanwhile in Bochum they make a beautiful plastic ID card, in Berlin they print out a small piece of paper with information and glue it into the passport. Bochum Bureau of Foreign Affairs had to send all the documents to Berlin. Unfortunately it took so long time that soon I had to burst into panic when my function certificate was close to the expire date. When I had applied in Bochum, it took a month to make this plastic card of the residence permit. That meant for me that as long as the Berlin Bureau didn't have my documents they couldn't start with the preparation of the permit, which could take another month.
Absolute suddenly as I was at the Bureau again I pleaded them to check anyway their post and that time they really found something that I needed. To my surprise, it didn't take a month and I actually got my residence permit that very day. I can't describe how happy I was.
One might think, I could have applied probably earlier, but it wouldn't have made any sense when every city of Germany does the same document not in the same way.
I lived in the south of Germany last year and now I notice the difference between the Berlin's German and the German in the North Rhine-Westphalia. To be honest, I couldn't understand people here in the first month in Berlin. Now it is better, however, sometimes when I am listening to the conversation of young people I cannot catch what they mean.
German is a hard language and at the moment I am doing my best to improve my language skills: I borrow books for youths (they are relatively easy to read), I learn vocabulary with a picture dictionary, while I am on my way in a bus or a train, I take actively part in the German class, etc. Also, I am planning to get my first language certificate in the beginning of the next year, so that I get more career opportunities.
Logically, I should end up my writing with a conclusion, but then it would mean that the story is over. My ESC is not yet over and I know many things will happen to me and I will share it again on my blog.
PS: the photos are from the mini painting workshop in the nature and my result :)