Katarina’s experience and the TIE adventure

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When I first arrived in Barcelona at the end of May this year, I was awestruck by its beauty and taken aback by its size. Everything appeared to be so close in the distance when it was actually 30+ minutes away. It took some time for me to adjust to this and learn how to accurately estimate distances. In addition, I had never lived alone before, so this was an entirely new experience in which I had to figure out what to do with my newfound independence.

On top of that, my project has been a lot of fun for me. I was doing youth projects with Youth BCN and assisting other young people in taking the same step into the world as I did by coming here. Additionally, I was volunteering in a solidarity shop Madre Coraje, and doing activities with children in Casa de Verneda. Most of all, I liked the variety that this project offered.

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While I enjoyed my time here and the people in my organization were wonderful and supportive, at times I struggled to adjust because I couldn’t help but miss my old way of living. However, I’ve always yearned to see what else is out there in the world. Doing an ESC project was sometimes difficult but it was a necessary step for me to finally leave my comfort zone and broaden my horizons.

TIE ADVENTURE

Even so, after overcoming all of it, there was one thing that still loomed over me: making a TIE. Since my home country, Serbia, is not a member of the European Union, I needed to obtain a visa and then apply for a TIE card in Spain. I was trying to get an appointment every day since I arrived, with the help of our organisation, but to no avail.

We tried everything we could think of during the first three months. We went to the police stations to inquire, and even made an appointment in a small town near the French border. There they informed us that we needed to apply in the municipality where I live, but we had no luck there either. I became increasingly desperate and helpless as time passed because I felt like I had no control over anything. Everything was dependent on bureaucracy, which is the worst nightmare! Furthermore, I needed to return home in September to complete my exams, but if I did that, I would have to reapply for a visa.

We discussed my options at the organisation and decided that I would return home and reapply for a visa, assuming that because I had already done it in May, the process would be much faster this time. You can probably guess where this is going. The process dragged on and became more complicated in ways I never imagined possible.

VISA STRUGGLES

At first, I had a great time back at home. My mother greeted me at home with sarma and strawberry cake. For those who are unfamiliar with it, sarma is a dish made from mixed minced or chopped meat and rice wrapped in a leaf of sauerkraut, fresh cabbage, or grape leaves (and also my favourite dish!). I enjoyed watching the sunsets from my window as I live on the tenth floor of a building and the view is amazing and I also took advantage of this time to go on a few weekend trips. I visited a friend’s country house and a city in northern Serbia named Novi Sad.

So there I was, unsure of when I will return and torn between two lives: Barcelona and Belgrade. I was trying hard to seize the opportunity that was presented to me to spend quality time with loved ones and I was mostly successful; we went for long walks, occasionally for drinks, board games, trivia nights, and I finally watched the Lord of the Rings trilogy! On the other hand, the uncertainty loomed over me at times, almost taunting me with its presence. Everything seemed like an elaborate joke as if I were being filmed for Just for Laughs.

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COMING BACK TO BARCELONA

Now that I’m back, I can say that this was, to put it mildly, an odd experience. I appreciated the time I was given to reconnect with myself and people who are dear to me while also learning how to deal with unpredictability. That is, after all, what life is all about. You never know what’s around the corner, and if you did, life wouldn’t be nearly as exciting!