From my house in Spain to Skopje it’s 2866.2 km. I’m Ana, a Spanish volunteer and I’ll be in Macedonia for the next 9 months. Ever since I started looking for an international volunteer project I knew I wanted to come to Macedonia. I had already been here previously in a youth exchange and I fell in love with the city, the people and the way of life, how people are always on the streets spending time with friends. I’ve only been here for 3 days but I have not been disappointed. The natives have welcomed me with open arms and showed me the city. Macedonia is very different from Spain. What attracted my attention most is the diversity within Macedonia. Orthodox, Muslims, Turks, Albanians, Roma and Macedonians coexist peacefully. In my country, the Catholic Church is the only one existing and due to the great influx of Islamic immigrants, some mosques have begun to appear, usually in low marginal neighborhoods.
Salaries in Macedonia are very low compared to Spain. The Macedonian minimum salary is around 200€ and in Spain, by law, the salary must be more than 736€, which is why everything here seems very cheap. The food is different too. In my region pork is very typical in all its forms, especially the blood sausage which is a kind of sausage made with blood and rice.
I am volunteering in an urban camp with children and the relationship that children have with teachers is very different from what we have in my country. Never in Spain have I seen a child hugging a teacher or monitor because we have very clear distances with the figures of power, but here the children hug and kiss the monitors.
From what I have seen so far I think that this way of educating works better than what we have in my country because children pay attention to teachers and they appreciate them and not because they have to respond to imposed orders. I also had the opportunity to go to an event for the day of the refugees in the city park and I liked it a lot. The people in Skopje are very aware of the refugee community and, despite the rain all afternoon, the assistants were in the rain supporting this group. The affectionate and generous people here are the things that I like the most.
I hope to continue discovering new things that I like as much as I have seen this week.