A reflection on my two months in Spain

It has been already two months since I arrived in Spain. I remember two months ago on this date I landed in Alicante and while trying to find the buses which go to Murcia, I asked one woman if she speaks spanish because I needed help. She said: ”No. Macedonian.” Coincidence or not? She was very happy when I started to speak Macedonian to her, because same as me – she was lost. She was waiting for her daughter to come and pick her up and I was looking for my bus. We exchanged few sentences about where we live in Macedonia, what are we going to do in Spain now.. I rarely meet Macedonians abroad, but when I do it always feels so nice.

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When I arrived to Murcia, my coordinator picked me up and I got accommodated in my flat with my two flatmates. We are 9 volunteers from one association living in 3 different flats, but there are more doing their EVS here and we hang out with them as well! We are all from different countries, but it really doesn’t make any change in the way we see each other.  So far, I have had fun nigh outs with them and we already had an international evening with traditional food which ended up with full stomachs and ‘‘why I had to try everything” complains.

As I mentioned, I share a flat with two more volunteers and our flat is pretty central, so I like it, because everything is reachable so easily. Actually, Murcia is not a big city, but it took me more than a week to get used to it… and I still get lost(sometimes!).  I also barely use public transportation here. I use it only to go to work. It takes 20 minutes more or less to reach El Palmar – the town where I am working. My working place is situated in the neighborhood  called ”Los Rosales”. I guess bad things were happening/are happening there according to the faces people make when I tell them about my working place. So far what I saw is just friendly people, but I guess if they see you every day and they know you then everything will be alright. My work consists of helping Arabic women and children. Women come in the mornings in our association for Spanish classes, because even though they have been living in Spain for 10 years or more, some of them still cannot speak the language very well. They are so nice and I really enjoy helping them and this way I am also helping myself to improve Spanish!

With children is a bit different. They come for after school activities and they do their homework or sometimes we play, read, do crafts and fun things like that. We are two international volunteers – me and a turkish guy, but they also have local volunteers all the time which is really great.

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With the other volunteer we are also having workshops during the English classes in two schools there. I really adore children and I couldn’t ask for a better place to be. They are so amazing and cute and although it is so hard to teach them English, so far I think that we are doing it pretty well. The teachers in the schools are very collaborative, they always respect our ideas and let us do things, so we can learn and improve more in this field.

 I really love what I do and everyday when I wake up I don’t have this feeling of ”oh, not work again”, but instead – I am so happy that I am going there. There is a very positive energy there and everyone who works in this neighborhood is great in general. They make a lot of effort to make a change and it amazes me a lot!

by Marijana Gavrilova

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Beer and Spain

Murcia is special in many ways especially the way people speak. I understand the spanish language, but it still costs me to understand murciano sometimes. They speak very fast and they shorten the words. For example if they are saying palabraS you will hear palabra. If they are saying viajaDo you will hear viajao and many many more. It’s really cool but in the first day at work when they started to speak faaaast I was a bit confused because come on – I understand spanish or at least I did before coming to Murcia. Anyway, I will dedicate another post about the way they speak and the very typical murcian words, but now I want to write about 4 from 12837 ways of ordering beer in Murcia or Spain in general.

In some of the first days here I went out with the other volunteers and we asked for ‘’jarra de cerveza’’. Waiting… the camarero(waiter) brought us a glass pitcher accompanied with two wine glasses. Confusion. I have never seen someone putting beer in a wine glass pitcher! In my country we use it for white wine usually mixed with sparkling water, but beer? Really? It was hard to explain what we want, because it was jarra. We asked for jarra and the man brought it to us, what do we want more? But at the end it turned out that it is different thing when you order jarra in Madrid and in Murcia.

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Madrid vs Murcia

Next – I went out one night with a spanish friend to explore a little bit around the bars and to see how is the nightlife in Spain. In the first bar we went there was no music playing just some young people were gathered around drinking beers, having talks while playing table football/foosball(they have this everywhere). She asked me if I wanted to drink something, so we can go and order. I said sure, I’ll grab a beer. Then she said okey, but you want caña, pinta, tercio, jarra or what?...mmm, I said that I just want a beer, but not jarra(I knew only this lol, I had no idea what the other things were supposed to mean). She said she will take tercio and I agreed to take the same. Since I don’t know how to order, I will just follow her. And she brought me this:

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”I wanted a bigger bottle!” – I thought! But okey, at least I will know what not to order next time hahaha. So, if you like beer and you are not satisfied with a small bottle like me then never order tercio in Spain haha!

Beside jarra and tercio I managed to learn what caña and pinta is. I guess those are the most common ones, but there are many many more(quinto, cuarto, tanque…ಠ_ಠ) which I am not able to use/remember for now. Everywhere in the world you just order a beer by saying the name of the beer and that’s it, but spanish people be like: Why so simple when it can be complicated?  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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caña vs pinta

 

by Marijana Gavrilova

Once upon a time in Águilas

Well.. what is Águilas? Where is it? Most of you don’t know, right? But if I say Barcelona, will you know about which country am I talking about? Bingo! It’s Spain, yes. That is the true answer. Well, Águilas is placed in the south of Spain in the region of Murcia. It is a small city, but it offers lots of beautiful things. To be honest, I also didn’t know about it before coming to this part of Spain. All I knew was just the famous big cities which are so amazing of course, but sometimes by visiting only the very touristic places, we miss the opportunity to see something different than crowd, party, tourists… and among those  different places I mean Águilas as well.

There are many legends about the name of Águilas, but one of them is related to the monument called Pico de l’Aguilica and I think that it is the most appropriate one. Pico de l’Aguilica is a natural monument, made by the wind and the sea. People say it looks like an eagle, which in spanish means Águila and because of this they decided to put this name of the city.

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I took those pictures when we visited Castillo de San Juan(The castle of San Juan). The castle was constructed during the 16th century to serve against pirate attacks. It is placed high above the city and once you reach it you cannot do anything but enjoy the amazing view in front of you! Thanks to our guide we had the chance to see the most important thing in the city which is this castle. There is a museum and a restaurant as well, where you can try some nice spanish food, but I suggest you to go in the evening for a dinner, because the night and the lights make the view and Águilas even prettier!

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We had only one day in Águilas because we were not accommodated in the city, but somewhere near to it in a hostel right next to the sea. However, it was not a problem for us, because it was really amazing to go to sleep with the sound of the waves as well as enjoying the windy mornings by the beach. I am not a big fan of the sun and the beach, so I only loved the cozy mornings and evenings there. It rained only once(not too much, but still!) which was truly amazing and along with the waves it was making the perfect soundtrack of Águilas. Unfortunately, I won’t see too much rain here in the south of Spain, so I better become a friend with the sun soon!

by Marijana Gavrilova

Treasure hunt in Brasov, Romania

Let’s explore a little bit of Brasov togethter!

I believe everyone knows about this game, though it was my first time playing it. For me it was really exciting! We were 48 people divided in small groups of 6 persons and each of us from a different country. Every group had a romanian participant in case the locals don’t speak English. The purpose of this game was to get to know the local community, improve our skills in communication, problem solving and just have fun and enjoy the city!

We had different tasks – questions about places and what were they used for. We also had to look for some signs/pictures and take selfies with them!

Our 1st task was to find a place called Mielul alb(White lamb). Currently there is a pharmacy, but it used to be a bar/restaurant before. This was very easy because it was near to the starting point and we just followed the crowd. Not fair, I know!

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We found it! The While Lamb!

Then we went to look for Muresenilor street where we had to pick one favorite building. Well, by a coincidence or not, this was the street where our guide i.e the romanian guy(who takes the selfies) lives! And we decided to pick his building as our favorite one! It was not our favorite, but still. It was a building with a small tree popping up from it!

We asked some locals what to they think about it and their answers were that it is nice, but needs to be renovated. I think the same. What do you think?

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When walking down the Muresenilor street we arrived at Piata Sfatului – that is the beautiful center of Brasov. It is really cozy and lovely place. Our task was to ask tourists what they think about the city and why did they choose Brasov. We found a Spanish couple who were traveling around Europe and Brasov was their last eStop(I wrote estop because when spanish people speak english they always put an E before words starting with S, like eSpain, eSpanish, eSmile. Someone tell me why is this? It is very cute and unique though! I like it :D). Anyways, they said that they really enjoyed the mountains and their favorite place was the center. Mine too!

Another thing we had to found out was what was happening every day at 6pm for one full year and why. The locals didn’t know, so we went to the one museum to ask. They couldn’t give us an answer, but there was a guy who took us to another person who said that there were people with trumpets announcing that the gates are closing. I am not sure if this was the right answer, but I am glad we meet with this person. He was very nice and energetic. He left from his workplace just to take us to the place where we had to take a picture with one sign i.e the sign of Nova TV. So nice of him! He helped us a lot and we got 2+ points for that!

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The sign is behind but what is most important is us and our smiling faces! Say cheese!

And more selfies!

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This picture was related to our last task that was saying: ”The love of an angel. It will not come to you but you must look for it. Give it a kiss and a hug when you find it.  And that’s what we did!”

Some other tasks were including quotes with missing words and to find their meaning. Locals were so nice and helped us out. Also another one was finding a club for elderly which actually was a place where elderly go to watch shows, theater, grab some drinks and just chat.We couldn’t finish all the tasks and especially we had problems with finding some signs, which means we didn’t get the treasure. However we were on the 3rd place out of 6 groups and it is good, isn’t it? We had so much fun actually and that is what matters. It was different and new experience.

This was part of an erasmus+ project, so what I suggest you is to go on an erasmus+ in order to make great experience, memories and of course – great friends!

by Marijana Gavrilova

Turkish people – so weird yet so special

Turkish people are well-known for their hospitality and for me they are the friendliest nation ever. They are always nice and ready to help and I can write about them and Turkey all day long, so now I decided to write down about some things that only they do. Quite funny for me, though it can be annoying for you, but still at the end you cannot do anything, but just love them.
This is from my point of view and you are free to disagree.

You are in Turkey – you need to speak Turkish.
This is more like a very important ‘’rule’’ for foreigners. If you go to Turkey, you need to speak Turkish. No complains! And it is true. Rarely, you can find someone who speaks English or another language, or even if they know it, they will continue speaking in Turkish, because you are supposed to know it! You will tell them ten times(actually more) that you are a foreigner and you don’t speak their language, but they will keep talking, so what you can do is to pretend that you understand them or quickly to escape. You choose. This is what makes them unique though. And I just love it!

Not respecting traffic lights.
Is that your first time in Turkey? Are you about to cross the street when suddenly you see a red light, right? But people are still crossing and cars are beeping and it is a big mess, right? Then the green light turns on, but cars are still not stopping and people are running and yelling around, right? Well, welcome to Turkey! The country where red is green and green is red, oops no – green stays green. After living there for some time, you will get used to that and start doing the same. The bad thing is that now I am doing this in other countries too. It is not funny at all anymore. Just so dangerous.

It is always tea time.
When you are in Turkey they do not really care if you are a tea lover or not – you have to drink tea before and after meal or between meals i.e all day long. Turkish tea(black tea) is something very important in Turkey. Everywhere you go, you will be offered a tea. Even if you are just wandering around the bazaar and if they see you are a foreigner you will get tea. Do not say no, because it is lack of respect. Be prepared to have heart palpitations after a day in Turkey.

by Marijana Gavrilova

”Dance your stress away” in Armutlu, Turkey

Located in the Marmara region of Turkey, where people are mainly engaged in fishing and olives… a very peaceful town, which offers great views  – well, that’s Armutlu. You have probably never heard about it, but once you visit it, you will be amazed by the relaxing atmosphere it has and you will never want to leave it. We stayed in a hotel which was leading us to the beach in just 5 minutes. Waking up with is view was totally worth it.

Are you wondering why I went there? Youngsters from Turkey, Spain, Poland, Romania and Bulgaria – we participated in an youth exchange which took part in Armutlu. The main subject of our youth exchange was the stress and it’s impact on our everyday life. Our main aim was to de-stress ourselves through DANCE. We had two teachers, who were very patient with us and helped us learn a choreography with hip hop, bachata and merengue moves! The hip hop moves were a big challenge for me, but I managed to learn it at the end =D Beside dancing we had other activities too – yoga, energizers, zumba, workshops, ceramic activities.. We also had international evenings where every country represented their cultures through traditional food, drinks and dances. Every country’s presentation was unique and great in it’s own way.

Beside every great activity we had, I think that the best thing in this youth exchange were the people. I met great persons who will never be forgotten! They were all full of energy, very kind, friendly and really made me forget to all the problems at least for awhile. At the end, it is all about the people you meet in your life, because you can learn many new things, explore new cultures and make good friendships! Also our organization was amazing! They tried their best and really made this experience unforgettable.

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A day in Yalova

Spanish dance on the Spanish international evening

Bachata performance

by Marijana Gavrilova

Treats and drinks you shouldn’t miss in Turkey

One of the places I really admire is this beautiful city called Istanbul. Walking around those crowded streets, delighted by the perfect smell of the turkish coffee, simit, kurabiye, baklava, complemented by the beautiful view of the Bosphorus and the mosques around… This is what made me fall in love with this place.  I am happy that after my first visit I had the chance to visit other cities too and explore more. For me Turkey is unique, especially the cuisine and that is why I would like to share some information about the top treats and drinks you should not miss on your trip to Turkey.

Turkish tea: If you are fond of black tea, you should try this black turkish tea. Unfortunately, I cannot find the real one where I live, but still that place where I drink it often, reminds me of my time spent in Turkey. As you can see, it is not served in large cups because it is full-flavored and too strong, so it is always offered in little tulip-shaped glasses which you have to hold by the rim to save your fingertips from burning because it’s served boiling hot. It is a tradition to drink more than 1 teas in a day, so you will be served with tea every time, but that is how they show their hospitality.

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Gözleme: I tried gözleme some 10 years ago when I first visited Turkey and I never forgot that very special taste. It is a savoury traditional Turkish flatbread dish, made of hand-rolled dough that is lightly brushed with butter and eggs, filled with various toppings, sealed, and cooked over a griddle. It is usually filled with potatoes or spinach and cheese. It is delicious both ways though. Before trying it I never really liked spinach, I hated it, but gözleme changed my life and spinach has become my number one inredient in a meal!

The ice-cream of Kahramanmaraş: Kahramanmaraş is a city famous for its ice-cream which is made of milk, sugar, salep and mastic. It tastes very chewy and is quite different from the typical ice-cream we have. I really loved it! They usually serve it along with baklava and you will need a fork and a knife for it. It is also known as the never-melting ice-cream! When they first served it to me with a fork and knife, I was shocked and did not know what to do, because who uses fork and knife for ice-cream?

Turkish delight(lokum): We have only one kind of Turkish delight in my country, but they… Oh, they have many. I was trying to choose some to take home, but it was impossible. I had to take a piece from each of them. They have them in many shapes and colors, from brown to white, from circles to squares. Also, before buying them you ‘’should’’ make a dégustation on every stall and after it to complain that you are full, but no, it won’t be enough. You cannot escape the last stall where the man will insist and you need to try that last bite! You shouldn’t miss this experience, believe me. But as I mentioned before, it is all because of their hospitality. Weird, I know.

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Ayran (Turkish Yogurt Drink): Are you walking around Turkey and you are in the need of some refreshing drink? Well, you should look for this amazing natural Turkish yogurt drink. You won’t regret trying it!

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Have a good apetite or as they say: Afiyet olsun!

by Marijana Gavrilova