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I feel like it was yesterday that I was writing my first blog, not really knowing how anything works and what to write about. At the time, I was in Zagreb for about 2 weeks, still just discovering all our tasks, and responsibilities and bonding with my roommates. And now? Now is the end, and I have to summarize my whole life here in one short article. We have already said our goodbyes and so I would like to share with you what this year gave me and what people I met here.

People I met

I think that everyone that has gone through a similar experience will tell you that one of the most important things is the people you meet and the friendships you make. During this year I met and got to know an uncountable number of people. Whether they are friends, who were here on Erasmus, people from the Capoeira community, other ESC volunteers, or a random person I met at the party. I got something from each of them or learned from them.

They opened some doors of opportunities I didn’t even know existed. Let’s take the example of Brian. American who travelled around Europe and for a few days he stopped in Zagreb. One evening we met in the park and we started talking. Turned out that he works at Google in New York! Well, by the end of the evening I got a promise that if I ever came to New York I have a tour of Google sure. Of course, I will most likely never see him again and this tour will never happen. However, the main point is that you never know when many of these connections and friends can come in handy.

Capoeira – Monday trainings

Thanks to all our capoeira trainings, activities, and events we also became very involved in capoeira. As I mentioned in my previous article, in May we had Batizado, during which we officially became a part of this community by getting our first cordas. When it was turn of our autistic boys we couldn’t hold the emotions back. After a year of trainings, for them to play in front of all those people and parents was amazing!

I remember our first training with them. We barely started our own trainings so our capoeira knowledge and skills were very limited. On top of that I was a bit nervous about how it will go and how will the boys react to us. One of the first things Ivor said was „Gdje je Edu?“. For those who don’t know Edu was a last year’s volunteer. Well, great start no? But of course, after getting used to him last year there were suddenly 4 new people now. Understandably, it took a while for the boys to get used to us and each other as well.

But then it felt so much more precious when Ivor finally got our names right. When Mattia just came to hug us in the middle of the training. When Dorian gave his best during our little competition game because he saw me crazily cheering him on. Or when Luca happily did all the exercises perfectly and with a big smile on his face.

It quickly became one of my favorite activities and I was always excited for our Monday trainings. It didn’t matter that in the first half of the year our conversations consisted of Super! And Bravo! We had so much fun together and it felt very special to be a part of their week. To at least in this small part enrich their day and be their new friend. The last training was very bitter-sweet. It was the start of our lasts and our goodbyes. We played games, had a little competition, took pictures and then it was the end. We said our goodbyes and watched them walk to their parents one last time.

One of our trainers once told us that capoeira people are all quite a weird bunch which I couldn’t agree more with. In the best way possible! All the „easy trainings“, fun moves and tricks we have learned and the atmosphere of this sport is something I will forever remember and cherish. So THANK YOU to everyone that was a part of it, helped, and supported us at this beginning of our capoeira journey.

European Solidarity Corps

One of the closest people I met during this year are the other ESC volunteers. Of course not counting Vale and Katrina (my co-volunteers in Amazonas) we have all met during our on-arrival training in November. Since we were all from different parts of Croatia it was the best opportunity for us to travel and discover more of Croatia. First, it was a group meeting in Zagreb for the first advent Sunday (As fun as it sounds having 10 people in a flat with one bathroom is not exactly an ideal situation. But of course we managed and it was a great bonding experience). Then it was the visit of Vukovar for a birthday party, Murter for mid-term orientation, visit of Ljubljana and Pula together…

             All in all, we were quite a diverse group. Whether it was in age, nationality, or personality. But we were all going through similar situations and therefore it was so easy to share all of it together. And these are the people that usually become your best friends. We already have a trip to Paris planned in September thanks to these friendships! How awesome is that? When I look back now, our group would probably never come together in the outside world. But that is also why these projects are so great! Often they through your way people that you didn’t even know you wanted or needed in your life.

Time to say my last goodbye

Well, there is much more I could write and talk about… But I feel that I shared all the most important points and that it is time to really say my last goodbye. With many of you, we had an amazing last evening during our Charity concert which was the best goodbye we could have had. Thank you, Amazonas for choosing us and giving us this amazing opportunity.

Vidimo se!