Aurore from France volunteering with the European Solidarity Corps programme at the Francophone Center of Varna in Bulgaria
Logbook of a unique experience at the Black Sea coast
Здравейте! I’m Aurore Bellart, I’m 24 years old and I come from the South of France. I am, since September 2020 and for a year, European volunteer at the Francophone Center of Varna in Bulgaria (composed of French Alliance of Varna & a branch of French Institute in Bulgaria).
A desire for change…
After my graduation, I studied Law. But for a while, I was wondering about what I exactly wanted to do after the University, and I also wanted to live a different experience, especially abroad. And the European Solidarity Corps offered me the perfect answer! I could both work in a field that interests me and that will help me in my future professional choices, while discovering a new culture and living a completely new experience.
The French Alliance of Varna proposed an educational and cultural mission: organization of educational, linguistic, or cultural events and workshops, interventions in French high schools, communication tasks…
Everything started on September 15, 2020…
After a few days of stress, I finally took my plane during the night. All my anxieties stayed in France and I could embark on the adventure peacefully. Arrived in Varna, I was taken to the place which would be my home for one year: an alternative place, with a skatepark, a cinema and concert hall, and a flowered balcony. It’s colorful, it’s lively, it’s multicultural. Bulgarians, Germans, French, and many others live in the same place!
No time to lose…
Hardly arrived, I already have a lot to do. The calendar of cultural events was full: European Day of Languages, workshop and conference about the French origins of Halloween… Whether it is by reading a French poem on a stage, or by making masks and decorations by candlelight, every way was good to share my culture and to exchange with the others!
Before arriving in Varna, I had some fears: the fear of culture shock, the lack of my country, the language barrier… I read about the Bulgarian people that they can be a little bit cold with foreigners. And finally, I learned one thing: don’t trust what you read and live your own experience. Indeed, when I arrived here, the people were very welcoming, and I quickly felt comfortable. I was also happy to learn that my first name exists in the Bulgarian language, so I found the perfect way to present myself to the others and to establish the first contact. I also noticed that when you make the effort to go toward the other, your effort is directly rewarded. Especially, when you try to learn the language of your new country, even if you use 2 or 3 words!
Always be curious
In my opinion, living an experience abroad is an opportunity to try new things.
For me, there are two important principles. First, always say yes when someone propose you a new activity (as long as it’s legal) and secondly, don’t hesitate when you’re tempted to try something. Following those rules, I participated in a beach clean-up, I improved my skateboard skills, I went skiing after years without practicing and I started salsa lessons. So many things that made me feel proud and allowed me to meet wonderful people.
Everything was going very well, but an unexpected guest arrived… COVID 19. A lot of projects had been cancelled or organized online. Not easy when you must organize events like food and wine tasting!
“Improvise, adapt, overcome”
Finally, this situation forced me to find other ways to grow professionally and personally. I organized online conferences about subjects that fascinate me and that I wanted to share such as France seen through painting, I learned video editing, I was interviewed on a national radio … So many things that I loved doing and that I might not have done in other circumstances!
After 6 months of volunteering, I realized that embarking on this adventure was the best decision I could make. When you are lost, when you want to live a totally different experience, 1000 possibilities are available to you, and European Solidarity Corps volunteering is definitively one of them!