2022. augusztus 1., hétfő

Searching for balance

More than one year ago, while I was studying for the IELTS certification I stumbled upon an article where the different phases that every expacts live abroad were explained. I clearly remember the pattern of the curve: euphoria – shock – adaptation.

Photo from: https://ebrary.net/21444/management/international_assignments

We talked about this also during my second training: after only four or five months almost everyone felt like they overcome the first phase (the "honeymoon phase") and they were facing a different, unfamiliar culture. I had a very long honeymoon phase instead, and for the first six, seven months I lived in a bubble made of wonder, changes, inputs. I felt like I was an alien compared to almost everyone else in that room with me. I am sure this phase was so long because I felt completely at ease with my flatmates, that became my friends and important points of reference.

Then spring came, and a lots of thoughts too. After a lethargic and cold winter, flowers started to bloom and so my will to do things, see places, have a nice walk to see the sunset, drink something after work. And yet, there was always a "but...". I felt an unwillingness to do that often forced me to just go home to stay in bed. Additionally, I had a lot of thoughts about my future, about missing my loved ones, about still feeling after all those months to live in a country which is not my home.
In retrospect, I say that it was exactly in March that a new phase started for me here in Budapest.

I had a lot of nice experiences anyway. I travelled around Hungary (Szeged and Sopron added to my visited cities list) and abroad (Vienna and Italy), but the homesickness was very strong.
The nearer June came, the stronger was the happiness for Sara's new life but also the disorientation because since the very first day she was "our mama". I knew that after her departure nothing would be the same again. Her farewell was unforgettable: three days of party and memories and laughs and tears. I cannot explain with words how her presence enriched my experience here.
Now, after a couple of weeks I finally accepted her departure, and that is maybe why I can leave behind the "shock phase".
I am finally accepting what being here means: being far from my old grandmas, from my friends, from my love who is 850 km far from me.

Photo from the farewell💗

One of the things we did in these months is the Adományboltok éjszakája, a night that involved a lot of charity shops from Budapest and the rest of Hungary. Every shop had its own program till midnight, with workshop, activities, discount for the costumers. This year's theme was "HELP". It was very interesting to think about the question "how do I help?" and to be honest to answer the question was very difficult for me. I almost felt ashamed because nothing was coming to my mind. Then I had an idea, that encloses everything I learned here in the shop. I like the idea to help others by buying from small brands, innovative brands made by young people that believe in a possible change (in fashion as in every other area). I like to think that my purchases can help young people with an idea, to take it forward. That my purchases can help artisanship not to die. That I can spread the love for beautiful stuff made by hand, slowly, with love and passion in a world every day faster and uglier.

The wheel of fortune we made fot the event

Another good news we (as NGO) received is that we will take part on the Sziget festival in August. During the day we will do workshops and in the night we can enjoy concerts. A very close friend of mine will visit me in those days so I am super enthusiast and I am really looking forward to this new experience!

Summer finally came and I really want to go on holiday and enjoy the weather. This weekend I went to Pannonhalma Archabbey, because lavander is blooming and it was possible to pick it. Nature is so moving! In the botanical garden, in that landscape so similar to Tuscany I felt so peacefull, as I wasn't since a long time. In the next months I will go to Italy: to my hometown, in Bologna where my boyfriend is living and in Sardinia, where we will spend some days of relax.

I would have liked to go to the Balaton lake but the prices were very high so I bookeda place  for one night in Miskolc. From there I will visit Lillafüred and Miskoltapolca. I hope wherever I will be, a new balance will join me.

Wiew from Pannonhalma Archabbey

2022. június 19., vasárnap


It's already been six months that I am here in Budapest and it seems like at least one year. It's incredible how time flies and we are not even aware of it. 

I came in November and every experience abroad is difficult to deal with. When your experience is starting, you are full of energy and ready to live through the next chapter of your life. 

Last week our friend and workmate left because it's her time to change the chapter. We were living together, working together and hanging out together. So, I would like to tell you about Sara. 

When I came to Budapest, Sara was waiting for me in front of our home, she carried my luggage (27kg) and she had prepared my first lunch here. Sara, Harry and me were eating tomatoes and cheese. (Yes, they love cheese. There is no meal without it and it was just my beginning in the cheese fantasy).

As I was telling you before, going abroad alone can be hard in the beginning because you don't know anything about it and you don't know anyone to share your experience with. But then, Sara introduced me to all of her friends here, she was always organising parties and making plans, she was always working very hard and taking care of everyone. Sara is an easy going person, caring, friendly, confident, generous, clever and an amazing cook. I would like to be Italian to know how to cook once a week: home-made pizza, pasta and risotto. (I made a lot of mistakes, for example I cooked pasta one day and I ate it the next day hihihihi).

Sara wasn't just organising activities for everyone, she was really good at planning too. Once, she organised a quiz night at home... full of people, full of questions, full of cheese (do you have doubts about a party without cheese?). She organised barbecues, capuccino time (we love coffee too) and luggages. Yes, I've written  luggages. Already three rounds of clothes went to Italy. (Yes, three weren't enough, she has to come back to pick the fourth round up, lucky us hihiiii).

As I told you too, Sara, during our last night in Morrison's... (finally): Sara is an amazing workmate, she knows how to teach you, how to say if you are doing something wrong and she's able to spread her energy and positive vibes. Sara is also a very good friend, she listens to your worries and she gives  you really good advice. She would never judge you. 

To sum up, it's very important to know how to enjoy life. In other words, all of us have worries, responsibilities and goals although everything takes time. So, on the path to reach those goals, I would say that we have to learn how to appreciate  the people that are surrounding us, enjoy our daily activities and never we have to get stuck, we always need a change in whichever field. And that is what Sara is always doing. 

I am very lucky to have met you! See you soon apañada! :)

PS: In spanish, apañada means someone who always finds a solution for everything. And that's why Sara is apañada apañada. 

At the Carnival Party. Zsuzsa, Eleonora, me and Sara

    At Sara's birthday. Me, Eleonora and Sara. 

Last day of Sara. Me, Eleonora, Becci, Zsuzsa and Sara. 

2022. május 12., csütörtök



I would like to start my post by being grateful for everything that surrounds me. The opportunity to live abroad, volunteering and meeting people from different countries is making me grow every day positively. In fact, I consider myself really happy and lucky because after six months I can truly say that I am settled down in this city. 

Szimpla Kert

                                   Having a French dinner with other volunteers that I met in Budapest

One highlight is the way I am learning to be aware of the value of money. Before coming here, I used to buy a lot of things in shopping centers, such as new clothes, new utensils for home... And then I realised that you can find almost everything you need in charity shops or second hand shops as well. When people are getting rid of tools that they are not using anymore,  another person can reuse it and give it a second, third or fourth life. This means that we are taking care of the environment by reducing waste production, reducing the use of plastic... and this is amazing.

All of us should learn about finding treasures in this kind of shops. A lot of times we need something immediately and the easiest way to get it is to buy something new. However, what about looking for the cheapest way? That's what I'm learning now. In my opinion, marketing and advertising are creating needs that we really don't have and we should be critical to know what is important and what is not. 


In my second volunteer training, learning about recycling

Now, before buying something, I'm wondering... do I need it? How many of these have I at home? Can I find it in a way that takes care of the environment?   

On the other hand, recycling doesn't mean that we have to donate absolutely everything or keep everything. The act of giving clothes, tools, utensils... that are not in usable condition, why are we giving them to charities? If we are not using something because it's ruined, we should just throw it away. Why are we thinking  that other people can still wear it or use it? 

Recycling t-shirts into dog toys 

In conclusion, I believe that more and more people are learning about recycling and they are also becoming aware of the value of money because they can save it easily! So all of you that know how to do it, spread the word!

2022. április 14., csütörtök

Who I want to be

 A cardamom and lilac scented candle is burning on my table, I am listening to my favourite playlist and I think about my future. Six months of this astonishing experience are already gone and soon I will make new choices. This has never been easy for me, to be honest it scares me. But after all, aren't choices that make us adults?

A couple of weeks ago I joined the mid term training and, among the other things, they asked us to imagine ourself in three years and draw our ideas. Which results will we achieve? Which will be our new goals?
I drew a flat (because I really want to achieve independence) and a dachshund (no kidding, I love them) but the very first thing that came to my mind was: "sustainability", so I added this word too. I like to think that in 2025 my life will be more conscious, closer to nature.

About this: my mother teaching me to sew is definitely one of the goals for the next years. I am 100% sure it will be difficult for me but I really wanna learn to do something so cool with my own hands. Every day in the shop I see so many clothes with a button missing or with a broken zip but still in good conditions; it would be a very simple but important job to repair them.

I am not a creative person but in the last months I realized I am really curious about upcycling (in other words: creative recycling), especially in the fashion field. In January I saw a short Italian documentary called "Stracci"*. It talks about the wool upcycling experience of Prato, in Tuscany where the wool is recycled since 150 years by expert hands. Every day an incredible amount of clothes arrives there from all over Europe. The first step is to separate the clothes for the second hand market from those for recycling. Of the latter the wool ones are selected and the zip and the labels are removed. They also divide the clothes by colour, this allows to do new fabric without dyeing, saving a lot of pollution.
It was touching to see a knowledge so old becoming so actual and necessary, because it saves  tons and tons of textile waste from the landfills every year. I would love to know better this reality and I would also love to deepen my knowledge about examples of circular economy in Italy.

To know more: https://www.straccidoc.it/stracci-un-viaggio-nella-sostenibilita-della-moda/

On another hand I am very curious about the international cooperation world too. I got my bachelor degree in "International cooperation and development" in December 2020 but because of Covid I didn't do any internship yet. In January the call for a very interesting project with the Italian NGO "Mani tese" expired so I tried my luck and I applied for it. They have a lot of projects around the world regarding fashion sustainability but also agroecology and rural development. I will know more in the next months.
Speaking about international cooperation, in the last weeks Zsuzsa allowed me to join some online meeting with other NGOs. I think this is a good opportunity for me, to see if I am
interested in EU projects. It is too soon to say something about it, but I am grateful because this can help me understand what I like and what I don't.

I am full of inputs but also disoriented. I would like to study, but also to work and be independent. Sometimes I feel like I am "late", but other times I just choose to not think about it. It is hard to accept that I do not have control over my future but what I know is that every experience I made led me where I am now. My path has never been regular, but made me grow. When I was 19 I felt the urge to travel around the world and now I feel like I need more time. More time for the pub quizzes, for the boardgame nights, for the dinners and the walks around with my new friends. More time to think about my future and about my carnival costume. Time for planning new trips** and for friend's birthdays. More time for life to help me understand how to take the next step: choosing who I want to be.


**Pécs I am coming!

P.S. I was dressed as a sailor, guess Sara costume if you dare!

2022. február 21., hétfő

Almost three months

I would like to tell you today that I am very happy to be here and  to enjoy this experience as I am doing now.

 I like working in the shop and getting to know our usual customers (some of them are coming every day), although what I like the most is discovering this beautiful country. 


For this reason, I went to Dobogókő with a friend that came to visit me from Spain. He is Charlie. This place was amazing although it was snowing, cold, windy, and dark. But of course, it was January, what was I expecting? Sun and light? 


Nevertheless, the company is always more important than the places that you are visiting, and I had the best visit. Moreover, we were in a nice hostel, warm and cosy, with a lot of Hungarian people. In spite of the weather, we were walking for hours in the forest, breathing fresh air, and enjoying nature. I would recommend Dobogókő if you like hiking, but please, if you want to have fun instead of getting a cold, don't go during the winter. 




On the other hand, as I said before, I am enjoying working in the shop. We are receiving lots of donations (mostly clothes) and we are not able to sell everything that we receive. Because of  that, we are donating a lot of  clothes to homeless shelters. 

Since two or three weeks,  Zsuzsa’s father is coming to the shop to help us with different tasks. So we shared a task going to donate clothes to a homeless shelter. People were very nice and grateful.  

Barna was asking where we should leave the donations. Meanwhile, I was waiting outside and  there were a lot of people waiting to enter to the homeless shelter to have a warm meal. They were very happy to see the car full of clothes  and they asked me different things that I couldn’t understand (yet). However,  I was able to understand “Adomány?” (donation?) And I replied, “Igen, Igen” (Yes, yes). 

So, as you can see, I already learnt a lot of new words and a lot of new things, my parents are very proud of me and I'm eager to learn a lot more!

Above all, I am falling in love with this city. I went to Café New York and as you can see in the picture below, it’s amazing (and very expensive) so I was there only to look around and to enjoy live music.


Although what I like the most was Aquaworld. It is an awesome aquapark where  you can chill and have fun with your friends. It’s a perfect plan for a  Sunday.




Talking about having fun, Sara's birthday was one week ago. We were in a nice place having dinner and drinking pálinka (it is a strong alcoholic Hungarian beverage appreciated for its potency, flavor, and fragrance). You can imagine how the night ended. Below, I add my favorite picture with my flatmates and friends, Sara and Eleonora. Sara is 13 now. 



 And then, last week I participated in an online training course, where I met people from all around Europe who are volunteering in Hungary too. I had the opportunity to meet people living in Budapest doing the same thing  as me, and it is very heart-warming to share this experience with people who are at the same point in their life.  

I hope you enjoyed these small stories and moments from my exciting and  colorful life here in Budapest!

 Köszönöm! :)


2022. január 7., péntek

Heartfelt thanks

Köszönöm has been one of the first Hungarian words I learned. It simply means "thank you".
I soon discovered that in an informal context you can use the word "köszi" instead. I really like that the Hungarian language has very long words but also shorter, friendly versions of the same one. It makes me think this is a funny language but, despite this, learning Hungarian is harder than I thought.

After four months in the shop I am able to understand and answer very simple questions, I can buy myself fruits and vegetables at the local market because I know numbers, if I step on someone's feet on the metro I know how to say that I am sorry. Sara says that I should be happy because I already learned a lot of words but I think these are not enough and that's why I often cannot understand what is going on around me.

Why is that important to me? After all, as a Hungarian guy told me, this is a language that I am not going to use again after this year. But still I cannot help to be fascinated by a language whose origins are so distant in time and space and that shares nothing with all the other European languages. Maybe, it is just that I would love to know Hungarian better in order to feel a bit like home in here.

Luckily, my will to learn more about Budapest and Hungary is bigger that anything else. During a week in the shop I discover day by day something new about the rude tenderness of Hungarian people; on the other hand, the weekends are my chances to go around, filling my eyes with the beauty of this country. Approx. once a month friends or my boyfriend comes to Budapest to visit me: there is no better opportunity to explore new places. So far I liked the Vegan Sunday Market and the local artisan market at Turbina, the Robert Capa contemporary photography center and Memento park, where a lot of statues from the communism dictatorship era found a home. And still: the Hungarian National Gallery and Budapest History Museum, Normafa and Margaret Island.

(Hungarian National Gallery)

(Zugliget chairlift - Normafa)

(Turbina - Vajdahunyad u. 4) 

I love Budapest but sometimes I think that I am just living in an international, cosmopolitan bubble. And Hungary is a lot more than this: in Hungary there are small cities like Nagymaros where Saturday markets are still like they used to be, and where you can ask which is the best tea for you from an old woman who speaks, like you, a bit of English and a bit of Hungarian.
In Hungary there are winemaking regions such as Eger, where it is easy to spend a happy afternoon with your friends just moving from one winery to another.
There are cities full of culture as Szentendre, and cities full of history like Visegrád or Esztergom.
I actually visited Esztergom today and I really loved it. I found a quietness and a light that moved my heart. I promised myself to come back again in the  summer just to sit and look again at the city from the  Our Lady of Sorrow Chapel on the Szent Tamás hill.


(Eger - Valley of the beautiful woman)

(The Visegrad castle through the clouds)


I feel blessed because I had the opportunity to see and do everything I mentioned so köszönöm Hungary, because you welcomed and accepted me.

Köszönöm to all those who are in this with me.
Köszönöm to who told me you don't have to hurry in life.
Köszönöm to you, who spent your time reading my tangled thoughts.

P.S. Happy New Year!! :)

2021. december 19., vasárnap

Getting out of my comfort zone


Hello everyone! I am Núria, the new volunteer of  Filantrópia Charity Shop and this is my first blog post. It is a pleasure for me to be part of this project because I am learning a lot of new things and living amazing experiences that I have never had before.

On one hand, I want to tell you how I decided to come here. I finished my studies in Law and Business Management Administration in September and I was lost about what I could do during the next year. Instead of studying a Master or starting to work in my city, Lleida, I was willing to spend a year living abroad, meeting and learning from other cultures or other ways to live… so I was looking for many projects that brought me the opportunity to do what I am doing now. Eventually, I found the European Solidarity Corps (ESC) with a lot of projects in environmental issues, recycling, working with youngsters or elderly people… Therefore, I applied for Filantrópia Charity Shop, and twenty days later, I was here.

Another point worth considering is I consider myself as a brave person, active, ready for new challenges… but when you are getting out of your comfort zone you make yourself smaller and you start to have doubts about what you should do in your future. Nowadays, what is “normal” after finishing University (at least in Spain) is studying a Master to specialize in some field or starting to work in what is considered by people as a “serious” job. In my opinion, sometimes it is difficult to do what you really want instead of what you should do. Anyway, I am here (luckily).

On the other hand, I am getting used to this new challenge of learning every day something new. Moreover, what I like the most in this project is the possibility to give a second, third or fourth life to clothes, objects, shoes… avoiding consumerism. Here I realized that we don’t need to buy everything new because we can reuse it.

Furthermore, we are carrying out different activities like workshops which are an amazing idea to get to know the customers or our work team. What’s more, we are creating dog toys or scrunchies from used t-shirts, ties… so we are recycling and being creative at the same time! That’s great! I am really excited to keep going on this adventure because time is running out.

Taking everything into consideration, I feel very lucky to be part of this project because of the people that are around me. For me, the city where you are living is important (Budapest, what can I say? Awesome), the project is also important because I am going to spend eleven months, in a project that I believe in, that I think is good for the society, for the environment, etc. However, the most important thing as I have said before are the people who you are living, working with, or meeting… They spend their time with you, and I appreciate that. I am feeling like at home.