Challenging my guiri self – Moni

They say it takes 21 days to make a habit and you have to keep going for another 90 days to create a lifestyle. This is my 60th day of being a volunteer in Puerto de Sagunto which means I’m halfway on my journey to really believe and understand that i’m here, i’m not a tourist on a long vacation but rather i’m getting more and more involved in a new culture and gaining a second home.

My last entry was about the beginnings (who I am, how did I end up here) and it closed with the hint of a very open mindset which seems to be the most significant tool in my volunteer first aid kit. Although this road can be nice, it can also be a bumpy ride.

Spain is beautiful, the beach is 5 minutes away from the flat we live in, and i spend my days amongst adorable kids – it sounds good so far, doesn’t it? I came here with no experience of working with children and not speaking the language which is kind of a kamikaze action if your job is to help organize different after school activities in a youth center (Casal Jove) for kids from different age groups. It is as broad as it sounds, sometimes we make craft classes for 5 year olds, sometimes we supervise teens spending their freetime in the center by playing table football or board games and sometimes we have debate groups discussing heavy and interesting topics.

In high school I studied Italian for 5 years so I thought I’d pick up Spanish in notime but in the 1st month i made a lot of mistakes even saying Buenos días and tried to survive the classes by repeating Madre mia and Que chulo to the kids. People are very easy-going here and most of them try to help when they see the struggle, but the day-to-day pantomime and sticking out of the crowd can be pretty stressful. Because even though I’m a short girl with brown hair and eyes, I have dinner around 7 and I’m anxious when I’m late so it’s obvious that I don’t belong here. Yet.