Few days after my arrival in Prilep, Macedonia, I created a FB page honestly without a specific purpose which helped me to face what it was happening to me and tell it. I titled the page “Seven months in Macedonia” by joking on the feeling of having found myself as the unlucky Brad Pitt who gets lost in Tibet and has to handle not so much comfortable situations. Writing and putting down every day my impressions, my feelings and my emotions about the new reality around me helped me a lot to note every amazing details of this society which was appearing so charming to me. I started telling my daily day and taking pictures every day of what I was meeting on my way and struck me. Maybe without realizing it fully, day after day I fell in love with this land, its smells, its noises, its language, its food, its people. I started learning how to move and how to relate with people here. To do that I got the precious help of someone: my flatmates, who were volunteers in my same project and who became my brothers, my family.
In according to the changeable role which each one of us was taking up every day in the apartment, we were calling each other “mum” or “dad” or “grandma” or “son”. Nonetheless at the end we found ourselves brothers and we decided to make a common tattoo to celebrate our brotherhood. It was the first tattoo for me and Catalin! What I discovered here is that there is a great solidarity between volunteers. Being a volunteer make you feel that all of us belong to the same huge family, the Humanity. You need just to let your taboo go and open your mind: you will learn so much! About the relationships with Macedonian people, what to say?
I did my best for the Macedonian language learning because I could not wait to start communicating in the shops, in the streets, in the bakery, in the line to take money from the cash machine. After a month I found my boyfriend, whose smile I had fallen in love with since the first day I got here. Over the time someone of his friends became my best friends, his little niece became easily my niece and I integrated almost fully in Prilep (the language requests a lot of commitment still). I tried a lot of Macedonian dishes but especially I cooked them together with my friends or my boyfriend. I learned to drink rakija with shopska salad. The problem is I learned even to love it and I’ve brought back home more than some hangover!
I traveled around Balkan with my flatmates and I discovered borders those were unknown for me til that moment, I took part of traditional Macedonian parties with my boyfriend and my friends, I traveled around Macedonia and I discovered the breathtaking beauty of this land with its lakes, its mountain, its landscapes, its colors. I flew with paraglide from Krusevo’s mountain thanks to a dear friend. I taught the Italian pizza’s recipe to the wife of the owner of our accommodation when my boyfriend and me were in Ohrid for a weekend. I made a tattoo; I made a big jam tart for my boyfriend’s parents. I made workshop to tell about 25th April party in Italy to high schools students with I was working. I helped my beloved students of theater class to stage a French comedy.
Moreover I’ve learned English and a bit of Macedonian. Well, in seven months the list of stuff I did is still long but isn’t so much worth to keep going. What really matters is how deeply I changed my self. I enriched my person by confronting with a lot of different people, habits, traditions and beliefs. I tried myself by asking to me everyday to overcome my limits, to move their boundaries forward, to improve myself. I took time for me finally, the time I was missing when I was in my frenetic life in my frenetic cities (I spent the last 5 days between Bologna and Florence). I made clear to me what I really want, what I really like and what I really need. In conclusion, my seven months of EVS in Macedonia was a full experience, not always easy, almost always surprising, definitely always educational. In few words it was the best experience ever of my life.
Written by: Vanessa Torcasso