Leaving a country that you are used to, leaving all the known places, faces and smells to go and meet some others, completely foreign and distant is something some people consider brave, while others consider crazy and pointless. noticia-aleksandra-2My friends had the former opinion, and said goodbye to me with many positive words and emotions. My grandmother on the other hand, had the latter and escorted me with the words: “Why are you going to Spain for 9 months? Your home and roots are here!”.

For me personally it was an opportunity to travel, learn about other cultures, do what I love, but also to grow and develop on a personal, more psychological and emotional level. So I packed my bag, and left the rainy airport of Belgrade, noticia-aleksandra-5Serbia (for those of you who have never heard of this little charming place, it is located in Eastern Europe, in the Balkans) to go and better acquaint myself with one of my most favorite places in Europe – Barcelona, Spain.

My second ‘first impression’ of Barcelona (after 10 years) was the Prat airport – the rows were long, only three people were working on the passport check-in and from the time I arrived to the time I actually left the airport, an hour and a half passed. My first thoughts that were confirmed by many people I met later this week were that in Spain everything is done very, very slowly. From the restaurants, through public services, everything takes twice as much time, and coming from me, that means something, considering I come from a country in which everything is also done as slowly as possible.noticia-aleksandra-3

A week in, I heard the most beautiful explanation of this phenomenon (so to speak) – ‘’The Spanish do everything slowly, but they do it well’’. This statement is yet to be confirmed (it has been only a week after all), but from what I have seen so far, it rings very true.

The first week here turned out to be even more challenging, beautiful, inspiring and overwhelming than I anticipated. From searching for an apartment, understanding the way local transport works, understanding the noticia-aleksandra-1basics of my volunteer work, the FCV rules and the opportunities I have in this organization as a volunteer, to getting lost in the city, seeing art exhibitions and participating in the celebration of the national day of Catalonia while also trying the famous tapas and montaditos for the first time. Suffice it to say this first week was intense.

Thankfully, the people of Barcelona are very welcoming and willing to help, so I have been overwhelmed and inspired by their kindness and generosity. In fact, there were many moments over the course of this first week here, when I just needed to stop and look at all the beauty and life that is happening all around me. It feels so real and surreal all at the same time, and the people I meet here inspire and aw me with their life stories, attitudes, experiences and ways of thinking. It feels like this is going to be one of those life-altering journeys in which at the end of it you cannot quite recognize your former self.

Will my intuition prove true? There is only one way to find out… Hello Barcelona, thank you for giving me this opportunity!

 Aleksandra Stojanovic