Part 2 from Matei
On the day of arrival, my first impression when the plane landed was kind of doubtful as there were just a few planes in the whole airport and not much going on (even though it’s not a small city) and the weather was pretty cold and clouded. After that, the guys from the organisation greeted me and helped me with the luggage to their car. On the way to the apartment in which I am going to spend 6 months with another volunteer from Romania, I was still a bit in shock and all I saw was communist buildings and bumpy/broken roads (which was pretty similar to Bucharest or other cities in Romania) so I thought to myself: “am I really going to make it that long in this place?”
We got to the apartment (which actually looks good, but it’s missing a few appliances and things in the kitchen needed for cooking) where I left my luggage and because I was hungry we went nearby to grab something to eat. As I had no idea about the Cyrillic alphabet, they ordered something for me (the traditional borsch, which is similar to what we have in Romania and some dumplings filled with potato..so nothing fancy) and we had a beer together. Later on, we went to a pub really close to the main square in the city center where we met another guy from this organisation. We talked for a while about this and that and after we also met with our mentor, Piotr from Poland,(mentor for me and the other volunteer from Romania) that is responsible for our good integration into the local community. Piotr and I went to the airport to pick Catalina (the other volunteer) up and went to eat something and after that he walked us home and we went to sleep (it was pretty cold in the apartment and because they told me to contact them before turning the heating system on, I didn’t sleep very well that night).
On the next few days we were told about what EVS is and what this organisation does and the idea as a whole about what we will do during our stay in Lviv. In the evenings we went to some English speaking clubs and a Couchsurfing meeting where we met more local people and some foreigners aswell (some of them were tourists and the others are actually living here). We had a really nice time with them so, during the weekend (when everybody was celebrating the days of Lviv) I spent a lot of time in the city center in different bars, restaurants and cafes where I met even more people and tasted some of the Ukrainian beer and coffee which Lviv is famous for and I was really impressed.
We also went on a city center walking tour with a German guide called Peter(Lviv Buddy) and we saw some interesting things and found out more about the history and culture of Lviv. I spent most of my time during this weekend with some Polish guys, an American, two guys from England and some locals just wandering around the city center. In the second week here, I met a Japanese guy, a Spanish guy and a German girl (who is teaching here) who introduced us to 2 of her Georgian friends. We spent a few evenings together and so I learned about other cultures as well in the meantime and of course we had a lot of fun while each of us was sharing some funny stories or interesting facts about their country.
What I really liked about this city is the street art (graffiti) and because the people are still not very accommodated with it and the local authorities are kind of against it, some of the graffiti were partially or totally erased. I might consider getting involved in this if there already is a project or organisation that wants to promote local artists who are trying to embellish the city (I will post some pictures so everybody can see the beauty of some graffiti because let’s face it, there is nothing beautiful about the Communist architecture – at least, in my opinion).
After the first 2 weeks, I can say that I really had a great time and I am motivated to keep going on.
P.S. The public transport is quite bad so be aware of the Marshrutkas(small yellow busses which are kind of old and crowded so you will get a lot of hugs while using them) as it can be quite an adventure to travel around the city(so don’t be surprised if it doesn’t arrive on time or if you are running late). I would suggest taking the tram if you are not in a hurry as it has more space and is safer I might say 😛 Trams run until midnight, but don’t expect to get on one after 23:30 so if you are staying until later in the city center you might consider taking the night bus which comes about every 1 hour and 20 minutes starting at midnight near to the Opera House.