Imagine…it’s the middle of pandemia, television is making you scared and a bit ‘pandemy-maniac’. What do you do then? Go for ESC – European volunteering in Barcelona! Sounds crazy?
Not as crazy if you think about it longer and deeper. My thought was: ‘Even if I can’t meet many people, there will be a chance to have beautiful, sunny walks across Barceloneta beach, a chance to actually visit a city without tourist and…so ok, that was my imagination (which partly turned out to be true, lucky me😉).
When I arrived to Barcelona, my first days were insanely intense. I met 2 of my flatmates (and the rabbit, which also lives in our appartment), I was introduced to the team of FCV foundation, met my lovely mentor and even got a chance to have a word with some ex-volunteers. That was really more than I expected. And of course it’s not about the quanitity of people I just mentioned….but who they are! They turned out to be justthe most amables, abiertos and asombrosos kind of people.
Before I went to ESC I already knew ex-volunteers who did it before…I heard that there are different periods during ESC – like euphory, depression, boredom. Now I’m thinking…maybe the euphory phase is slowly finishing but it’s a loooong way to the boredom phase. There’s just so much to discover in therms of places but especially about the people, language and the culture.
The first cultural shock I experienced in Barcelona was comida time. Why the hell do Spanish people eat after 9 pm? And why am I writing Spanish people if I already should know that it’s Catalonia! J Catalan people are very proud and independent and they emphasize the difference between Spain and Catalonia. Of course, I saw some yellow ribbons already on the first day but had no idea what it means. It turned out that they sombolize support of politicians and former members of the regional government of the Spanish Autonomous community of Catalonia. And I just left Poland in the middle of strikes full of people fighting for womens rights. On my ears I had red lightning earrings, a symbol of polish movement. What a coincidence!
Even though it’s been just 2 weeks I feel like it is a month or more. Volunteering made me a really active person. I started to prepare T-shirts graphic design and edited the first video. It’s all new for me and I’m happy to learn new things and to share my ideas with fundacio team that is also very creative and give such a nice feedback!
In the free time, as it is forbidden now to travel outside of Barcelona during the weekends, I discovered Collserola hills with ma flatmate and we also visited great exhibitions in CaixaForum. I went as well to Park Guell…and…nobody was there. Can you imagine? That’s the positive side of pandemia, I guess. Barcelona is breathing, it’s finally ‘empty’. And I’m lucky to be here in this slowlife period of the city.
Doing ESC in COVID times has its limitations. When you’re deciding for such experience, you need to be aware of it. Probably, you won’t meet as many people as you’d meet in ‘normal’ times. Probably, you’ll face difficulties with travelling or curfew, you won’t be able to go out to the bars and restaurants. But if you’re a type of person that likes to observe, discover, you’re a little introvert than you have nothing to be afraid of. You can get the best out of COVID and spend this hard time on changing your life and doing something good for others. Can there be a better option?
To be continue…