Alessio and Monika returned over the weekend so we were back to work on Monday. But the first week was slow.
I worked on my personal projects, doing things to get the book club up and running – printing posters and talking to institutions in Umag to arrange a venue. I also worked on one of the final results of our project, which is producing some interviews with past EVS volunteers to find out about their experience and life after EVS.
On Friday afternoon Alessio and I went for a coffee with Robin, the American woman who lives in Brtonigla. We spoke about many things, from the organisation and timekeeping of the locals – she has given up on arranging meetings with some people because they will not stick to them; to how we can advertise what we are doing more; and the apparent arrangement of the locals into cliques, outside of which they don’t interact. One example was from her Istrian boyfriend and that when he speaks of his ‘generation’, he specifically means the people he was in class at school with. This can make it difficult to integrate, especially as outsiders, with the locals at times. Something which may be added to by the separation of Croatians and Italians at schools and in the communities, and the Istrian feeling of independence from Croatia.
After this I went to Umag to meet Ana and Maja, and help Ana write a cover letter and CV for a new job. This is highly paid work – so Ana paid for my share of pizza. After this we were chatting about ‘dream jobs’, though Maja told me to be more realistic when I said mine was to be an adventurer. Then she got upset when I floated the idea that I might move to Copenhagen after my EVS (having moved on from Berlin), because she would lose a friend in Umag, until she decided she would come with me.
The weekend was also quiet.
The next week though we got some exciting news. Our friends Alex and Klaudia had invited us for a party on Friday. Unfortunately they live at the other end of the country in Osijek. We looked at our options for travel, trying to find the cheapest and most convenient, but there were few options. We were undecided until Elena told us that the final event of the Youth4EU project would be taking place on the same day as the party in Osijek, and that we could go with Nina. Travel and accommodation included. This gave us a big boost on Monday morning.
Before the trip to Osijek we spent a day in Poreč. We went to an old people’s home, whose application to be an EVS host organisation I had checked before Christmas. We were there to meet some local volunteers and see some of the work they do, which included helping the residents to do some arts and crafts activities, making decorations for Easter. Once this was done we had a small tour of Porec that included the Euphrasian Basilica that is on the UNESCO World Heritage list because of its 6th century Byzantine mosaics, and was finished with pizza.