Potpourri & Third Week in Sicily

These days I had a really busy time because there are deadlines coming up both this week and the next one: Grundtvig assistants, the accreditation for the European Volunteering Service, the Senior Volunteering Project, and few others.

Besides, I have other activities as well: the newsletter on opportunities and funding for European mobility, translate in English the CESV presentation materials, and meetings; but at the end of the week, when I look back to see my progress, I realize how much I’ve done, without too much stress.

As I said before, I get many ideas, and recently I started working online on a new category on Potpourri website with Potpourri members, Lia and Tudor. It is called Info Europe Potpourri and it will include all the opportunities on European mobility for Romanians interested in these kinds of experiences. We will update as often as we can with resources, because I have a lot of information that I want to share. The idea of creating the category is also due to the many comments I received on the website from Romanians interested to participate, and so… I help them, I advice them, making it easy to reach more information.

I am really captivated by these activities, and this is mainly because is dynamic, creative and innovative. I get to meet new people, to work on projects, to organize and participate in various events, and to speak three languages at the same time. I learn many things that my colleagues already know about, since they have the experience. We work mornings to evenings, and we don’t even realize when time passed. Oh well, that doesn’t mean we work continuously, we do have some breaks as well. We make jokes and laugh, drink coffee, and eat lunch, and it feels like we’re a family!

The funniest part to me is how I communicate with my colleagues: with Mari, I speak in English; with some other colleagues, I speak in English, Italian or French; at home, with my Calabrian flat mates, I speak in French and Italian, and with other collaborators in English and Italian. I often mix the words from these languages, but we understand each other!

This week, I’ve been outside Messina, to spend some quality time with my good friends, Mari and Peppe, at their parents’ house, in the countryside, where there are beautiful landscapes of mountains and sea… it was like a dream! There, I ate some traditional homemade Sicilian food, Tiramisu, and delicious cheese such as Ricotta al forno (baked cheese) or cheese with pepper. Yummy! Sicilian dishes are delicious, easy to cook, and really tasty. They don’t mix many ingredients, and the meals are prepared right before eating when all it’s fresh. The atmosphere is warm and welcoming just as it is back home. They have family meetings, they eat, talk and laugh…and it resembles very much to our atmosphere. That’s why it’s also easy for me to live here. The cultural differences aren’t so many to make me feel alone and helpless. As about my family, I keep in touch with them through messenger or Skype… a great advantage that this technology offers!

My friends and I went also to north Messina, a place where I have been before and which is really dear to me. We went to Torre Faro in Cape Peloro, a small, bohemian town of fishing enthusiasts. It is the closest town to the Strait of Messina, which crosses to Reggio Calabria in Italy. There, I had a Granita with lemon and strawberries, which is a traditional fresh drink. Then, we took a walk on the beach and breathed the fresh air of the Tyrrhenian and Ionian seas that meet right in the Straight of Messina, and we had a talk about the traditions on the Catholic Easter, which will be soon on 31st of March.

In fact, this Sunday it’s been the Palm Sunday (Domenica delle Palme) and I got to see their religious rituals and Easter traditions. There is a beautiful church close to the house I live in, Church of the Holy Spirit (Maria dello Spirito Santo), and I went to take a few olive branches (they don’t use willow branches like us) and palm leaves. Then, after the priest’s words and blessings, everyone walked on the street together to another church called Santuario Parrochia S. Maria del Carmine, where the celebration took place, lasting for an hour. They pray together, they sing together (the organ is wonderful!), and are anointed with chrism, just like us. But the experience was different here and there were many, many people!

Back home, at lunch, we cooked again some traditional food. This time we made artichoke with garlic (carciofi con alio), pasta with sauce, and of course, biscuit cake with Finetti (Torta Pan di Stelle).

Next week awaits me with new adventures in Reggio Calabria in Italy, where I will celebrate Easter together with my flat mates and their families, and where it sound like I will have a weekend full of wonderful things. I’ll come up with impressions afterwards!

Translation made by Oana Zlatovici – Potpourri member studying in Sweden