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Augustina

Macedonia
32
If anything happens, you have to sort it out on your own. I think this has somehow made me who I am today because you have to just take each day as it comes.

Life in Macedonia was cool. It was a calm life, completely different from what I am living here. Everything was a lot smaller. I was happy, living with my family. We spent every summer with my grandparents in their village and working in the countryside. We were always surrounded by nature, we didn’t have internet. Actually, I didn’t have a laptop until I was 18, that wasn’t my reality. I liked spending time with the people around me, I had a lot of friendships and had a lot of fun with my friends.

You have to be ready to start all over again. It’s good because you feel very free, but you have to be very alert.

I was in Macedonia until I was 18. Everything happened in its own time, throughout my teenage years. I finished my studies and turned eighteen and decided to go and study abroad whereas all my friends were going to stay. It was difficult to leave because everything was great there. But at the same time, I knew that I wanted to see more, I felt like the people were a bit close-minded. It was like living in a bubble, and that was fine, but if I hadn’t left I think I would be a completely different person.

At 18 I moved here to study and I stayed for four years. I don’t know why Spain or Barcelona, but I always knew something was calling me. Then I went back there for a while to work for another company and on some other projects and with my mother who is a homeopath. I worked with her on different projects with children, with yoga, working on well-being, not only physical but also beyond physical well-being. I studied tourism here, as well as yoga and I studied many different things over the years. I realized for me to be well and to be able to help other people, I would have to find something I connected with more and so I mixed tourism with yoga and other things to create activities.

When I moved here I was scared because I didn’t speak any Spanish. I had studied it briefly when I was thirteen years old, but it definitely wasn’t enough to go to university here. But I got really lucky by finding a university where you spend the first year there to be able to access the undergraduate course, that was an option available to me as someone from abroad. This didn’t exist in Macedonia, I had no idea this kind of system existed. And it was a very powerful experience. I did cry a lot and I remember my family saying, you can come home whenever. But for me, I just knew it was the right thing for me to leave the comfort zone I live in. If I hadn’t left, many of the things I believe in now and enjoy, I wouldn’t have been able to see. Well, I might have seen them on the internet, but not lived them. When I came here, there were so many colors, that I could choose.

Documents were a challenge. It’s something that is very difficult financially, and also mentally because you are never fully protected. At least, I came as a student, I had student papers and was legal. It also doesn’t guarantee anything, because it’s a visa for one year, and you aren’t a citizen here or a resident. You’re legal, but you can’t work and you aren’t protected legally. If anything happens, you have to sort it out on your own. I think this has somehow made me who I am today because you have to just take each day as it comes. You have to be ready to start all over again. It’s good because you feel very free, but you have to be very alert. It can be tiring, but it also makes you stronger.

At the moment I’ve got several things going on, I’ve got to sort out my papers. And once that’s done, I’d like to open my own small business. I am doing what I know, I am a yoga teacher and I also do lots of activities that are related to sea protection. Right now I’m taking part in a project that involves taking microplastics from the sea in order to conduct research and analyses. I’ve worked on many projects to do with cleaning the ocean and beaches and I link it all to yoga, which to me is a way of self-expression, a lifestyle. If you adopt it, it becomes a part of you. I’ve been practicing yoga for many years, and I started teaching yoga to children in Macedonia. It was incorporated with other practices for personal development using different tools for stress management.

Today, my dream is to create a space where I can bring all these things together, hopefully sometime soon I will be able to.

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Author
Mariia Iefimova
joana.s.r
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Joana Serrat