daliahme

which way is up?


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Finally got the job of my dreams. Working in politics. I never actually believed this would happen to me and I spend most days amazed at the thought that I’m working inside the building I used to perceive as unattainable, far beyond my reach. It’s an exhausting joy, especially during elections.

To say that I’m learning new things everyday is an understatement of epic proportions. I’m dealing with situations that leave me utterly speechless and fully incapable of selecting a reaction of any kind. The more time passes, however, the more I learn to deal with people, scenarios, and interactions that would have baffled me even two months ago.

I’m watching myself grow day by day and it’s scary. I’m turning more and more into somebody else, somebody that I don’t strictly speaking dislike, but the change is so dramatic, progressive and abrupt, and I am so overwhelmed with work that I don’t have the proper time to process what’s going on with and within me.

First of all I’m learning more and more how to have conversations. How to say less in a more diplomatic way. How to expect less from the people around me. How to hope for less and work for more simultaneously. How to overcome disappointment, anger, longing, desire, how to become more and more robotic, faster and faster, more productive, always looking sharp and with a smile on my face. There were moments when I feared this effort would push me to lose my mind.

I used to think, in my other life, in another universe, that I have lived the maximum amount of pain, and that I would never again hurt like a dog and feel myself emptied of any meaning, and molded by a burning hot rage that I could only envision being quenched by a moment of violence. But I was wrong. Politics will do that to you.

I am even more so surprised by the passion I’m able to feel, in several aspects of my life. I wanted to be surrounded by love, and I am. Maybe not in the way I expected, maybe not in the way I asked, but I am surrounded by my ability to love people, animals, concepts, ideas, dreams, envisioned worlds.

May the force be with us, to guide us and sustain us in this new life.

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On the long-term EVS: Update

It’s been 8 months since I moved from Romania to Poland for my long-term European Voluntary Service. I work as an english teacher in a small, private primary school and I live in a 3-room apartment with 4 people. Here’s my experience.

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During these 8 months I’ve had the chance to learn Polish, as provided by the EVS, but I traded it in for more hours working at school. I don’t regret my choice, but sometimes I wish I would have learned more. Duolingo is no replacement for an actual, living, breathing person explaining the intricacies of a foreign language.

Of a group of over 20 people, I feel relatively closely connected to two. Now, that is definitely more than zero. However, I noticed that several smaller groups have formed, mostly between people of the same nationality. One of the drawbacks of this particular project is that I am the only Romanian. Much as I enjoy meeting new people from different backgrounds, I would’ve loved to have a little bit of home here with me.

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Living in small quarters with people who aren’t strictly speaking your best friends, people that you wouldn’t have necessarily chosen as your ideal flatmates can be a little bit unnerving. It definitely challenges your communication and negotiation skills. Things like washing the dishes after you’re done cooking, cleaning the sink after you brush your teeth, making sure you NEVER run out of toilet paper and vacuuming the common space become paramount. Thankfully, such experiences also make you re-evaluate your own behavior. I never used to think of myself as a slob, but living with other people made me pay closer attention to my own behavior and I’ve learned to clean up after myself most of the time. At least, within 24h.

Moving to a new country with a group of strangers certainly puts you outside of your comfort zone. Oftentimes I find myself missing my friends and family. The ones I always say I need to catch up with but never do. Even the comfort of my own bed, my closet full of clothes I never wear, the bookshelf full of books I plan to read but never do. With this project, I forced myself to pack two luggages and live off of them for 10 months. I have a group of 20 people and it’s my job to make the best of it.

Do you want to try it out? Here you go.


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On my long-term European Voluntary Service

The European Voluntary Service – now rebranded as the European Solidarity Corps – sends Europeans aged 18-30 to work or volunteer in their own country or abroad for a few weeks up to 12 months. After doing a short-term 5 weeks project in Cyprus I decided to apply for a long-term project in Wroclaw, Poland.

 

It has now been two months since I moved to Poland. This has been my experience.

 

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I am a 25 year old Romanian woman. I’ve lived abroad before, specifically when I moved to Sweden to study Human Rights at Malmo University. Having lived with flatmates in an international context before, I felt pretty comfortable with my ability to adapt and flourish in a new, strange environment. I wasn’t entirely wrong.

 

Let’s start with the practical aspects: the ECS (European Solidarity Corps) will reinburse your travel expenses – from your home country to your project country and back), will provide food money and pocket money as well as a “student-type” accomodation. That practically means that you will not be living a lavish lifestyle unless you use your own savings or are good at budgeting – which, if you’re 18-30, is rather unlikely (sorry for generalizing). Onwards with practicalities, you WILL be sharing your flat and more than likely, your room. Now, this particular aspect can have its difficulties, depending on how well you get along with these people.

 

In my experience, both ESC projects have had “that” person. You know, the one who gets on your nerves and makes you re-evaluate this whole experience. The one who challenges your whole ability to control your emotions and reactions. The one who reminds you it’s illegal to hit another person, the one who makes you say things you’re not heard yourself say very often. This is one of the biggest challenges of an ESC project – and it can actually help both you and “that” person grow. Being self-aware means – in my understanding – looking at your reactions and emotions and trying to understand them and, perhaps, if necessary, tweak them a little bit to achieve better results. In such a project, you might be challenged to do just that every week.. Or every day.

 

From budgeting your income, learning how to cook, becoming responsible for the cleansiness of your WHOLE apartment, learning why you shouldn’t wash white clothes with colored clothes and also why you should ALWAYS lock your bathroom door, to budgeting your time, the ESC is full of new experiences. And not all of them are positive.

 

Sometimes you have to share your flat with a person who pushes your limits. Sometimes you hear the door open and you know it’s them and you internally cringe. Sometimes you don’t want to see anybody and sometimes you’re aching to see your friends back home – or your friends from around the world, if you’re a more international type of person. Sometimes you miss your mother’s cooking and sometimes you’re just not in the mood to clean the apartment. Sometimes you just wish you could speak your mother tongue – and you’re painfully reminded that you’re living in a country where they don’t speak your mother tongue.. Or English.

 

This is why the ESC offers language classes – mandatory classes. You can choose to treat this as an opportunity if there’s a particular language or culture you’ve been interested in exploring. In case you’ve been wondering, yes, Polish is terribly difficult. There’s so many dz, cz, sz, pr and w in EVERYTHING. Sometimes I look at a word and I wonder how the hell that’s a word and not something somebody uttered while having a seizure. However you can choose to see this as an inconvenience or as an opportunity to learn and expand your mind. Or as both 🙂

 

From expanding your mind to expanding your group of friends to expanding your list of visited countries and cities and expanding your set of experiences, the ESC is whatever you make of it. You can choose a project that advances your career, you can choose a project that is close to your heart although professionally irrelevant, you can try something new for a few weeks. You can fall in love with a culture, a country, a person. You can meet people who will be your friends forever, you can discover yourself in a new light. It’s all up to you.


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Go all the way

If you’re going to try, go all the way.

Otherwise, don’t even start.”

 

It’s been two weeks since I moved to Poland. I’m doing an EVS – European Voluntary Service program working in a primary school as a sort of a teaching assistant. The school’s structure involves a lot of freedom, both for the children and the teachers, which is great, but also a challenge. I am free to offer the children my own workshops, lessons, games and learning materials, which is something I have never truly done before. It’s exciting, but all this freedom also comes with the pressure of having to offer excellent materials. The school’s structure also involves the child’s freedom to reject my lessons if they get bored. Previous volunteers present both praise and negative comments. Some have used the free time to learn and better themselves while others have found the children’s rejection unbearable – and quit the program.

As for me, I have become relatively desensitized to rejection. I am fully unafraid of children’s rejection, but I do dearly want to create something that they will find useful and interesting. A shocker – I want to do well at my job.

The living situation is good as well – I share my room with what seems to be a wonderful Italian girl and another room is inhabited by an equally lovely Spanish dude. The energy is really nice between the three of us, but by October another person will be assigned to our apartment.  Not worried about it tho.

Overall there are 10 people doing this EVS and most of them want to go out like 4-5 times a week after work. I used to think I’m a social butterfly who needs communication and socializing but these days I’ve rather tapped into my inner hermit and more often than not I reject their invitations in favor of nice evenings spent alone on the balcony listening to music and thinking of life or watching classic movies. While I do ever so slightly worry about being perceived as a closed off person, I give everything I have when I do accept their invitations. Lately I prefer to socialize intensely for a few hours and then take the rest of the evening for myself and it feels like a perfect balance.

Sadly, losing my luggage means that all of my running gear is gone, which subsequently means that I have to improvise at-home workouts in my jeans or in my underwear if I am alone. It’s less than ideal but more than nothing. Because I am still adapting to this new life, I wake up too late to incorporate a workout and when I come home I feel too tired, but I push myself as much as I can and squeeze in 10-15 minutes. More than nothing, less than ideal. Working on it.

Another unfortunate effect of losing my luggage is losing my books. The only solution was allocating a significant chunk of my pocket money to buying new books. No regrets.

As for my love life, empty as the space between stars. Feeling okay about this whole thing, but it would be nice to meet my guy. THE guy. Wherever you are dude, I’m waiting for you.


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On gaining weight

I’m not sure how it happened. The drinking, the partying, the subsequent junk food, the chaotic sleep schedule?

The stress?

I am determined to undo the madness that I’ve imposed on my body. I started – once more – running regularly and I’ve started – once more – my push-up training.

Now the most annoying part must come – eating healthy. To be honest I would much rather work out a little more and eat that extra slice of pizza, but being on the wrong side of my twenties means making a little extra effort. It doesn’t help that I’m currently sharing my accomodation with the thinnest 18 year old I have ever seen.

Cheers to diet and exercise.

Ugh.