The first week in Warsaw and my first time in Poland was an exciting start of my volunteering year:
When I arrived at Warsaw Central Station, quite exhausted after a long train ride, I got picked up by one of the coordinators. She accompanied me to my new home for the next year, the Kabaty flat in the South of Warsaw. There I met my flatmates from Georgia, Nino and Nini, who arrived the evening before. After a Room-Tour, we cooked together and explored the flat and all the things the previous volunteers have left behind. From clothes and shoes, over pictures, homemade jam and books, there was a lot to discover (unfortunately not all the food in the cupboards survived the change of residents). Especially exciting was all the Christmas stuff, that was left behind. Thanks to the volunteers before us, we can hand out hundreds of gift bags, turn the flat into a Christmas wonderland and never have to use a mug, that is not on Christmas theme.
Going to the supermarket was next to cleaning and throwing away about eight bags of trash one of the first things we did. Stupidly we walked around twenty minutes to a Lidl, when there was one nearer to the flat. But on the way we bought vegetables communicating only with hands and discovered a Georgian Restaurant, that made my flatmates feel at home. I could feel the same at Lidl, because it looks exactly like the ones in Germany. Only the prices were confusing at first (I still have to calculate to euros).
On Monday there were still volunteers arriving so we had a free day and I explored the Kabaty area, Park Moczydelko and the forest near our flat. In these first days I already learned a lot about Georgian traditions, culture and food. For dinner we had cornbread, what I never tried before and meat patties. This evening the flat became fuller, when Sophia and Denise arrived from Germany. We shared what we discovered in the flat already and got to know each other over tea.
On Tuesday the official programme started and after some struggle to find the entrance to the office, we were greeted by the coordinators and met the other volunteers from Spain, Belgium, Georgia and Russia. First of all we got to know each other through Speed-Dating-Style talks and had lunch together. After we collected our Metro Card, the volunteers that were in Warsaw for half a year already, showed us the Lazienki-Park. We looked at the Chopin Statue and were amazed by all the squirrels.
The next couple of days we talked about cultural differences working in an international environment, our hosting organisations, some logistical stuff and most importantly ate Pierogi together. In the afternoon we went to a pumpkin festival, which turned out to just be a green area with a lot of hey and pumpkins. Nevertheless we posed for a couple of lovely pictures.
At the end of the week we met our mentors during another round of Speed-Dating, talking about favourite books, music, childhood memories and dream jobs. Afterwards two of them took us out to a bar and we had a fun evening.
On the weekend we explored the Old Town and had to say goodbye to the two girls moving to Bedzin. We also had a boardgame afternoon with all the volunteers, ate pizza and listened to music, popular in different countries. After only a week I felt like I knew the others for so long and feel at home in the flat.
To summarize, it was an eventful week. I met so many new people, learned about other cultures, ate new dishes and started to explore Warsaw. I hope I will love the upcoming year as much as I loved the first week.
Best wishes from the office,