A Serbian’s journey through Madrid and Cercedilla

on-arrival-aleksandra-2My adventure in Spain continues. This time I had an actual journey. To Madrid, to Cercedilla to be exact. And why was I going to this small, charming village? Well, as an EVS volunteer I am obligated to go to an on-arrival training. Mine just happened to be in the area of Madrid. I started my travels from the Sants train station in Barcelona. My train was exactly on time and it had an airplane sort of feeling about it. We had attendants, a food-cart and a place to put our luggage (which is not something I have experienced before on trains). The train ride was so relaxed and enjoyable that at times I wished it could last more than those 2h. It was so interesting to see the landscape change from green and flowery hills and planes in Catalonia, to yellow fields and mountains of the area of Madrid. The ‘photographs’ changed along with colors and feelings they provoked and I felt myself like a heroin of an indie movie going on a soul-searching quest. on-arrival-aleksandra-5To my big surprise, these 6 days were exactly that. I made some very important decisions and learned a lot, which just speaks of the high quality of the training.

At Puerta de Atocha (the main train station of Madrid) I was to find the “Statue of the traveler’’ where I was to meet my fellow EVSers and one of our trainers, Laura, to go to Cercedilla. After searching for the statue for some 40minutes, I finally reached my assigned destination, where I saw some timid faces with suitcases. They were standing around the statue and looking as dazed and confused as I did. After some minutes, more dazed and confused faces came along and we started to interact with the words “Are you an EVS volunteer?’’, ’’Are you here for your on-arrival training’’ etc. After the initial awkwardness the statue of the traveler was filled with young travelers exchanging stories about their first days in Spain, their projects, wishes and dreams for this year of volunteering. A passerby could feel the sense of community and belonging right away just by looking at this odd crowd. on-arrival-aleksandra-4Laura came and took us to the bus where we continued our talks of projects, wishes, places we come from, and places we want to go to next. And before we knew it, we were in Cercedilla.

The week flew by at an astounding speed, mostly thanks to the overall energy of the group, the very masterful work of our team leaders, and the highly delicious food of our kitchen team of the Youth Hostel. I must admit that before coming to this training I was feeling a bit confused about some aspects of my EVS, but with the help of the leaders and the other volunteers I have finally managed to understand the basic rules and workings of this whole cycle of Sending and Hosting organization, the difference between a mentor and a tutor, my obligations, the obligations of both organizations, the workings of my insurance plan and all things related to the service.
But, even more than that, I made my own internal goal for this year, which was immortalized by a on-arrival-aleksandra-1badge that we all had the opportunity to design and create ourselves.

Along with learning new things, I have also met the most amazing group of people from all around Europe, each talented, creative, smart, kind and generous in their own way and each with so many things to teach, as well.

In addition to all of this I even had a chance to dance (thank you my Lithuanian friend for the dances!), to play around with a ukulele, and to promote my organization and my project on Spanish National Television.

All in all it was an intense week that will forever stay in my heart and mind. What shall be next?

Aleksandra