However, I was soon to discover that Chisinau, and Moldova as a whole, has far more to offer than what fits into these stereotypes. One of my favourite things about the city is its greenness. Vast parks are found in every district and tall trees line the majority of the streets. Another favourite is all the markets selling fresh produce from the countryside, second-hand clothes at bargain prices and flowers in all the colours under the sun.
I am living with a host, an elderly lady called Lydia, together with another volunteer. We have our own bedrooms and the flat is fully functional and clean. Living with a host provides a great insight into the Moldovan way of life, as well as helping with learning the local language. The latter has been a great challenge, especially as there are two languages spoken here. At first it was difficult to decipher which language was being spoken, let alone understand what was being said. I hope, however, that with continued language lessons this will change. The hosting project of ADVIT Moldova that I am working at is the ‘Aids Foundation East-West’. It is a small office with only three permanent staff, of which only my boss speaks English, which is a challenge. So far I have been involved with preparing for and participating in the Aids Memorial Day, which took place on the 16th May and was a great success. I am the only and first EVS volunteer with this organisation. Due to the on-arrival training and intense language lessons I haven’t been to my project much yet. However, I am really looking forward to getting stuck in and involved with the work that they do.
I have got to know fellow EVS volunteers and there is a great volunteer community in Chisinau. There are always things going on in and around town, which is the benefit of being in a capital city. The transport has taken a while to figure out and I’m still not quite sure which number bus goes where, but I hop on and hope for the best.
It is difficult to answer the question ‘What are your first impressions of Moldova?’ It is simultaneously everything and nothing that I expected it to be, if that is possible. I like the pace of life here, taking things day by day rather than continuously planning ahead. To be a capital city, Chisinau is very relaxed. I am still discovering new things every day and look forward to continuing doing so throughout my stay here.
Hannah's stars on Youth Networks see: http://blog.youthnetworks.eu/2010/07/my-first-impressions-of-moldova/
Hannah is spending 6 months on a European Voluntary Service (EVS) project in Moldova. If you are aged 18-30 and would like to spend 6-12 months volunteering in Europe see: http://www.concordiavolunteers.org.uk/volunteering-overseas/european-voluntary-service/how-to-apply/ to find out more.