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Volunteering at Mark.freizeit.kultur

Anka´s experience report

Hallo! Servus! Grüß di!

Yes, that’s what Austrians do. They greet each other several different ways at once.

I am Anna aka Anka. I had my project in Austria in the fabulous city of Salzburg. When I got a letter that I am accepted for the project, I started to google pictures of Salzburg. I couldn't even imagine that this city is even more beautiful in life than on photos. There are mountains, lakes, rivers, castles... And quite a lot of sunshine that surprised me because the locals complain about the weather. Well, I can speak a lot about the city but let photos say by themselves.

Let’s better talk about the project. It started in September 2017 and lasted until the end of February. My project is not the longest one, only 6 months, but these were months full of emotions, adventures, nice people and events.

I worked in the MARK.freizeit.kultur organization, which is a cultural and event center. In MARK we mostly had rock, techno, psy, metal or punk concerts. There I had also an opportunity to work in the bar and it was my biggest challenge, because I have never worked in cafes or bars any time. It was mostly difficult because of the language barrier. Before the arrival I already had the B1 level in German, but I could not even imagine how big the difference is between Hoch Deutsch (Classical German) and the Austrian dialect. While meeting Germans here, every time I'm happy to find out that my German is actually not so bad :)) The Germans themselves say that they can understand only 80% of what the Austrians say. There are many completely different words. For example,

German  Tomato vs. Austrian Paradeiser,

Apricot vs. Marille

Kartoffel vs. Erdapfel

Krankenhaus vs. Spital, etc.

But there are also problems with the accent. The Austrians speak deeply in the throat and predominantly pronounce "a" as "o". For example, the phrase "Ich mag dich" Austrian would say "I mog di". In the beginning, it often happened to me that I could not understand what a person says even after he repeats it 3 times. The beer can also be ordered in various ways: Halbes, Helles, Kühles Blondes, Gerstensaft, Flüssigbrot, Märzen ... But it was funny at one point :)

Although I attended a German course, all the courses teach the classical German whereas in the city I heard only the dialect, so it was not possible to apply the knowledge in practice.

In MARK I launched some of my own projects. For example, Language Exchange Meetings, food and drink letterings (see photo) and Couchsurfing. The MARK is located in a two-stored building with a bar, concert hall, workshop rooms, bicycle workshop, rehearsal and recording studio, as well as a room with 4 beds, which I call "MARK hostel". This room is mostly for bands which perform until the early morning and want to stay overnight there. This happens not so often, therefore, it was a nice idea to use this space. That’s how I came up with the idea of ??Couchsurfing. Couchsurfing.org is a platform where people can find locals in other countries and overnight at their places for free. In return they can cook something for the host, tell something about his culture or host in return somewhen in the future. In our case Couchsurfers helped us in the bar, took pictures of events or draw something in the hostel. One girl stayed for 3 weeks and made an incredible drawing on the wall. My goal was to change the interior of the room and the difference before and after is definitely noticeable. It is a pity that in the process I didn't take photos of how it looked at the very beginning.

MARK also gives an opportunity to complete radio and/or TV workshops. Radio diploma is already in my pocket :)

MARK has its own radio broadcast 2-3 times a month, where I've been already 2 times. In one of them I brought a lot of Latvian songs. How fantastic was the feeling, knowing that the whole Salzburg (well, ok, only those ones, who listened to the radio at the moment =P ) is currently listening to Latvian music :)


Our "hosting organization" organised "freetime activities" for all volunteers so sometimes we visited beautiful places outside of Salzburg and every month we had EVS breakfast, where we discussed all the issues and got more information. During the Christmas time there was a Christmas decorations workshop.

In my project I was the only EVS volunteer, but there were other trainees as well. It was so interesting to observe people in MARK. There are so many different people here, but they always find a common language, everyone is very friendly and positive. MARK is the place where you can fulfill almost any idea and receive support so it was great to be there and to be a part of it.

That's my story, and if you have any questions, I'll be happy to answer.

Other photos you can see in my Instagram @saulestiba.