Our year together in Jena

My decision to be part of the european corps of solidariety came directly after the end of my university career. I wanted to try something new in order not to get stuck in the “sweet doing nothing” and, even If I wasn’t sure about it, in the moment that I got the answer for my project, the Walkindergarten, it suddenly all became real. Coming here wasn’t that easy for me, I was scared and I was over thinking: what if I’m not good enough? What if I don’t like the project? What if it’s too hard? What if I don’t get on well with the other volunteers? What if I want to come back home?

All my doubts disappeared as I arrived to Jena, on the 3rd of September, where I found Eszter and my tutor waiting for me at the train station in a beautiful, warm, sunny day and I, as the months was passing, I felt in love with this city.

I found the size of Jena as the perfect city-size for me, because it’s small enough to let you feel at home really fast but you can always find something to do – especially in the nature. I also really liked the fact that you can reach everyone by feet or by bike.

It took me a lot of time to find my balance, between fears and missing my family and my boyfriend back home but I worked hard and, once I found it, everything was perfect. I think that this year was a really good opportunity for me, full of challenges that made me grow up, know myself in a deeper way and for that even in the dark times I’ve always been grateful to be here.

One on the best thing about this was my group of volunteers, we are really close and supportive on with another and having them helped me to make everything easier and sweeter. Being such a close group helped us a lot to go through the COVID-19 situation: we gave each other strength, we tried not to think too much about how bad it was back home and we started creating hobbies and daily routine to do all together; it this way we took the best of this bad situation and we got even closer, becoming a family.

What I also found inspiring and satisfying was working in my project as I really loved the work I was doing and how and what they teach to the children and I learned from it. I have to admit that in winter it was really challenging, because we were staying a lot of time outside in the forest and it was really cold and dark. I always felt loved, supported, trusted and considerate from the team and it helped me to find myself, knowing the way I want to educate children and the way I want to live in the next years. My day at Kindergarten was from 8 to 16 (more or less), three days a week we were staying at morning in the forest with the children and the other two we were spending the day in the garden. The main point of the philosophy of the kindergarten is to let the children discover their bond to nature, respecting it in each one of its aspects and having the freedom to find their own time and way to grow up and discover themselves.

Something that I found really important was the support and the organization that Eurowerkstatt had for us. They always helped us being on our side and they always tried to make us feel at home and understood, as long as they could. Eszter, in particular, has done really a great job with us and she was always ready to help, even in a confusing and difficult time as the corona – she was weekly calling to check on us and being with us, even while living in another city.  

I will miss a lot living this experience, it has been a great way to grow up while living with friends and it was the best combination. I’m sure coming here has been one of the best choices I’ve made and, even when it has been hard to go on, it has always been worth it.