Meet Our Lovely Intern from France Lea!

Lea (to the left) together with the other volunteers from An Association FOR YOU and L’Alliance Française de Varna!

Lea is from France and she joined Association FOR YOU’s team as an intern last Autumn. She helped the activities at the social workshop Place FOR YOU for the last three months. See what Lea took from her experience in Bulgaria from the interview she gave us.

Hello! Please introduce yourself with a few words!

My name is Lea, I am 20 years old from Clermont, France. I am here in Bulgaria for an internship at Association FOR YOU.

What made you want to be an intern? And why especially in Bulgaria?

To get my bachelor degree I have to do an internship for a semester abroad. I applied for this internship here because I wanted to do one in an NGO since I love helping people!

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, my choices were a bit limited. Also, I wanted to go to some new country and I have never been to Bulgaria before. My bachelor degree is in European studies but we mostly focus on Western Europe only and I wanted to learn more about Eastern Europe as well. So here I am.

What was your first impression of Varna when you arrived? Did you experience a cultural shock and is there something you really like/dislike?

I arrived in September during a Sunday afternoon and it was all good. I have not experienced a big cultural shock so far. There are some things that I have noticed like the number of stray dogs and cats around, they are actually pretty nice. I like having so many cats around.

One thing I like the fact that we are near the sea because I am not from an area that is near the sea and it’s very nice for me to be close to it. I guess one thing that is kind of frustrating at times is the language barrier.

Lea with the other volunteers during a trip to The Ovech Fortress.

What was your funniest experience here?

I have been going out more than I used to. Something about Bulgarian people is that they are more direct – if they want to tell you something they are going to tell you something, they are not going to wait or whatever. People talk to you here – it happens to me all the time that I am just to the supermarket and they try to talk to me, and it’s weird because this never happens to me in France. In France nobody cares, everybody is minding their own business.

What are you working on here, what are your tasks in particular?

I help organize workshops and I help the participants, I also participate in the activities sometimes. It could be painting workshops – textile paintings or painting on canvas. Also, we currently prepare the decorations and invitations for a birthday party that’s going to happen. I also teach English to some of the girls here. The girls are pretty good and they remember some new words each day. Also doing research and writing articles: (Check out Leas latest articles 8 Reasons Why Lifelong Learning is Important and 7 Ways Artistic Activities Affect Mental Development )

Lea (up in right) with a participant during the social workshop.
A Place FOR YOU with a workshop for painting on canvas held by Carmen.

Did you have an interest the project because you like painting/ DIY or you had an interest in doing social work in general?

I wanted to do social work specifically. The last time I painted something before coming here was 6 years ago. I really wasn’t into painting before coming here but now I discovered that I’m actually not bad at it.

What did you learn during your internship? Did the pandemic affect your job?

I learned painting. I learned about Bulgarian culture and language

The pandemic affected the internship in the way that there has been a decrease in the number of people coming to the workshops. There have been less workshops as well because of the measurements getting more strict there last weeks.

Would you recommend this experience?

I would definitely recommend this experience. I really love it here. It’s very nice to go abroad even if you feel uncertain about it because you meet wonderful people, you discover the culture and it boosts your self-confidence because you are alone abroad and you have to do everything by yourself – you have to confront everything that you may feel anxious about. Even if you don’t know the language you need to speak with people.

What is the advice you could give to someone that is thinking about going abroad?

Definitely do your research to where you are going and what it’s like – be prepared. No need to pack too much. I know some people may be worried and decide to take everything they have but it’s fine – you can always buy stuff once you are there. Also, meet up with people, take everything you can from the experience.

Lea (right in the middle) during the youth exchange Ecology Act! You can read her story about the experience here!