The 19th of July I arrived in the youthful city that is Thessaloniki. I was the first of the volunteers coming so I felt a bit anxious. We were told that there were pickpockets in the bus and I can say from my experience that it’s true you don’t notice it because it happened to me just when I arrived from the airport haha. Anyways, I had very good time discovering different paths of the city with Arsis help such as the first meeting in the shelter of Peraia by boat (this one is at 5 minutes from the beach so even though I have to use the a little malfunctioning and long bus ride I consider myself to be lucky) or when Maggi took me to the port (it’s a pity we can’t swim but it’s one of my favorite spots).
When my flatmates started coming I greeted them with such enthusiasm that I even picked the 5th one from the airport (I forgot my stop to go to the shelter so I magically ended up there). We have been living a lot of adventures together going out every weekend, sharing stories, tasting new food and capturing moments that we won’t forget. However, the highlight of this month was clearly Samothraki. That island had really wonderful nature with amazing waterfalls and random people that are our friends now.
I want to try to describe how I feel about Thessaloniki. I became aware of his little new world after a while and I’ll need more time to know my neighborhood from the port to the Upper Town like the back of my hand but at least I already feel like home. In a way it’s in the Spanish culture to be open to people but in this month I found out more than what I’m used to. Surprising and overwhelming, everyone wanted to speak with me. Thanks to that, I got to know a lot of interesting people and knowledge about their lives and the city. I’ve been told that in September the dynamics will be different because in August most of the locals go on holidays to the numerous islands around Greece and a lot of Erasmus students will come soon but I already found it full of people so I’m quite afraid of what to expect in this new beginning (also about the not summer weather in next months haha).
Finally and the most important part of my experience, I’ve spoken several times about what am I doing here. Sometimes it’s even difficult for me to understand but I’ve learned so much from the beginning of my volunteering project; not only from the impressive social workers of the shelter but also from the young teenagers refugees. The language is the fist barrier due to the fact that most of them haven’t learned but we find ways to communicate and teach them English, Spanish, German or Greek (I’ll help by starting to learn too) so we try to prepare them and ourselves for the next future action that is going to school and for when they leave. Being with them is emotionally touching to both sides and since my age is closer to them I’m happy to be there supporting them in their everyday life by playing cards, all kinds of sports, going to the beach and, at the end, just accompanying them building beautiful relationships with each other. I’ll also become next month the basketball coach outside of the shelter from Arsis in Thessaloniki so I really can’t wait to keep and enjoying with teamwork.