Brace yourself. Winter has come

Brace yourself. Winter has come

My adventure with Erasmus + started 2 month before my 31st birthday, when I’ve discovered, that it was my last chance to participate in an EVS. Luckily, I found a 10 months offer in Spain for working with mentally ill people. I like the plan of going to Spain for enjoying the palm trees, sangria and heat.

I came to little town in Castilla y Leon region, without knowing any Spanish. Surprisingly, people from the daily center of mentally ill people  didn’t speak English. This didn’t prevent one participant from falling in love with me. It could be a really lovely story, but in fact, it turned out to be quite dangerously. My admirer started following me and soon he became a stalker. When I realized, that I’m not safe, and mentally ill person probably will not bear any consequences of his actions, I’ve decided to quit my job.

Despite this fact, my organization offered me another solution to relocated me in the main office in Valladolid, capital of Castilla y Leon. Thanks to this decision, now I’m gaining new experience in department of European projects. Nowadays, now I’m safe and sound.
Regarding the weather, I feel cheated by people who told me, that there’s no winter in Spain. Don’t believe so! Of course, on the south you can look tanned even in February, but I live in cold pole of Spain. For example, at the night temperature is around -4’C, which is not shocking for someone who raised in Poland. Unless… you haven’t brought any winter clothes. Yes, I didn’t brace myself and winter has come. My main goal in December was to survive  without being freeze. Well, mission almost completed! I’m sick twice a month,consequently, I’m spending a lot of time at home, under blankets, waiting for spring.

Except for all the inconveniences, I don’t regret of my experience in Spain because  I am surrounded by palm trees, I have tried sangria and I have experienced siesta. This is the time of my life 😉

Sergio, how was your voluntary service?

Sergio, how was your voluntary service?

Everytime I am asked about my voluntary service my eyes look brighter. It is a pleasure for me to write about my volunteering time in Bulgaria.

As you read, I made an European Voluntary Service in Sofia, Bulgaria, in a project called Mountain assistants. It was a 4 months long project. A very short project, when I was actually looking for a long period stay, up to 12 months. So why did I chose it? When I read and understood the purpose of the project, I told to myself: THIS IS MY PROJECT

In few points, this was about the project:

  • Improving and taking care of a marked route – or ecopath
  • Collaborating with Bulgarian Red Cross
  • Learning the Scouts and Rovers methodology
  • Promoting eco-friendly ways to enjoy the benefits of nature and mountains
  • Learning about security and disaster prevention in nature
  • Developing skills to survive in natural environment

And about the frequently asked question: Why Bulgaria? I just told to myself: WHY NOT?

I’m not going to lie, I was actually attracted to the idea of spending 4 months in a country like Bulgaria, as I knew very few about it and I found it exotic for an spanish guy like me. But the decision was already taken after reading the program of the project. I am a mountain and outdoor sports lover.

And this is what it took me to an airplane destination to Sofia, the capital city of Bulgaria. So I was there alone, sitting and reading a piece of paper with the cyrilic alphabet written on it, what I thought it was the first step to learn Bulgarian language – in reality I had printed the Russian alphabet by mistake.

Few years after, I not only keep many memories as treasure but also I realize of my own growth and development with the time and perspective. It was not only exciting, interesting, funny, challenging. It was life-changeing. Short but intense.

Today, thinking about my voluntary service gives me the will and the strength to work for somehow improving people’s life, as I feel very grateful and want to give it back to society.

Teaching children how to set up a tent

 

Sergio

A small town girl in the big city

A small town girl in the big city

Hi! I am Alice and I am currently doing my EVS in Barcelona, Spain. I am originally from Estonia, a very small country from the northeast of Europe. The population of Estonia is only 1,305,038 million people but nevertheless we have our own independent country, language and a rich culture. In the University of Tallinn I studied Spanish Philology and culture, during my studies I worked a few odd jobs and also in two international companies. I must say that from the first day I started my studies at the university I had in the back of my mind the plan to move to Spain and to see everything that I studied in my classes with my own two eyes. Unfortunately, I did not have the chance to study abroad and after my graduation I felt that it was about time to pack my bags and go on an adventure. I got in contact with my sending organisation Continuous Action and after two months I was already packing my suitcase to come to Barcelona

 

So I believe that you can already imagine that coming from such a small nation and moving to Barcelona, a city so vibrant and big, has been quite a change for me. Well, the truth is I am still getting used to living abroad and nevertheless in such a big city as Barcelona. I started my European Voluntary Service on the 4th of January, so it has now been roughly a month living in Barcelona. Even though it has only been a month here I feel that I have already got to experience so many new fun things. I started my work in the Fundació Catalunya Voluntária (FCV)  where I will be working during my EVS project, I have had the chance to meet new interesting people, attend a meeting with an organisation called REFAL (The Spanish network of the Anna Lindh Foundation) and through my work with FCV I will get to experience many interesting events that will involve people from different places of the world that are all working towards bettering our societies and communities.

 

Apart from the work that I am doing during my project length, I have already had the chance to explore the city a bit and discover some really beautiful and cool places in Barcelona. Furthermore, I have started my Catalan language course and I must admit that I find the classes a lot of fun and a good way to meet new people. Of course, there are still so many things I am yet to experience and explore but since I have only just arrived a month ago I still have plenty of time for traveling and new adventures. I am very excited to to find out what my time here will entail for me and with a little bit more time I would have a lot more to write to you guys about. I would love to keep you updated on my doings on this great VolZone platform!

Alice

 

My adventure in the Red Cross

My adventure in the Red Cross

Soooo, where to start… I am a Hungarian girl but from Serbia (no it is not that confusing as it seems…), from a little town, called Subotica, near to the Hungarian border. Due to my grandparents and my parents were big travelers, my mother decided to enroll me in a language school when I was 6. I am sure she knew that I will also travel a lot. And she was sooo right. English was my third language, and when I was a student I began to learn Spanish. And there started everything… my love towards Spanish language, culture, people, etc. Since then I knew I will be live there one day, I just did not know when and how…and why.

Since my childhood I always did some voluntary jobs. I worked in a local radio, in the library, in the theatre, helped to a local dog-shelter, worked as a group guide at a festival. Volunteering was always part of my life. It was something normal for me because my father was a member of the Red Cross in my city.

A friend of mine mentioned this program for the first time, and I decided to try it, due to I could not do an Erasmus-program during my student years. I sent like 40 curriculums, but nothing happened. I tried to be more official, more creative, tried to mix these two things, send a Power Point presentation, but without any result. And then I saw a post of the Red Cross in Tudela, they were searching for 2 volunteers, one for children and the other one for work with elders. Due to I am a teacher, I applied for the one with the children, but finally they put me in the other program.

So in September I arrived to Tudela. It is a little town on the north of Spain, in Navarra province. Its population is around 35,000 and it is sited in the Ebro valley. Fast trains running on two-track electrified railways serve the city and two freeways (AP 68 and AP 15) join close to it. Tudela/ Tutera is the capital of the Ribera Navarra, the agricultural region of lower Navarra and also the seat of the courts of its judicial district. This town is also famous for the tomato called „tomate feo“ or in English ugly tomato(it is not that ugly in the real life). I was nervous because I did not have any experience at this field but my tutor and all of my colleagues were very kind and they helped me a lot. Then I realized that it is same like a teacher job, just the only difference is that my students are a little bit older.

There are more groups, in the mornings we work with people who have Alzheimer, and in the afternoon as well but those classes are more about playing games, making crafts, drawing, painting. Sometimes I help to my coworkers who work with children. We usually go to the local park, to see the nearby river or just to take a walk in the town. I also have some administration tasks. Every Tuesday I go to see an old lady in her home, usually we just talk or play cards. On Wednesdays we have healthy walks, we are walking around the city because our mission is to take care of the body as well. And then there are hobby classes, like „aula del bienestar“ there are people who do not have any problems, just want to be active. Every Friday is a day for sewing and make different crafts. We made fish, pumpkins, witches, Christmas trees, cactuses, pigs.

Normally when we visit a foreign country, we have a cultural shock, it is a reaction to new custums. It was not my first time in Spain, before I lived in Andalucia, so I did not really have this feeling but still there are some things to mention. In my country we are more or less punctual, but in Spain you can arrive late, they will not say anything. What else, it is a very frequent thing. Sometimes it can be irritating, but I prefer this flexibility. The other unusual thing was the late night Spanish dinner. Normally I can not eat after eight, but they eat around ten. Oh, and the siesta! From two o’clock until four every shop is closed, it is a time for the lunch and to take a rest-a siesta.

My organisation is very professional and I am very thankful to them for their help and cooperation. I really hope that I can work for them in the future because my plan is to stay in Spain. And I also recommend them to anyone, if you apply you will not regret it! Write me if you have any questions.

Best wishes, Adri

Evs in Barcelona at 30 yo

Evs in Barcelona at 30 yo

When you are living in a small village you need to deal with stereotypes and old fashioned opinion about who is young and who not, what you should do and should not, what is good and what is not. Surrounded by that kind of thoughts I’ve spent a lot of time trying to deal with myself and to find my way. I don’t regret that I left my family house late – 27 because I used this time to discover who I am and what giving me positive energy when I am working.

I decided that I will try to go by the hardest way. Way of passion, hobbies and ideas. But what gave me the signal when I know what I want to do? I tried a lot of things, a lot of jobs and I was working as a freelancer. From all opportunities I took a lesson.

I am Marcin from Poland. In a nut shell I will tell you my story, how I get here to do my 12 month, long term EVS project in Fundació Catalunya Voluntària – in Barcelona.

Before going to EVS since 2004 I tried: working in Sawmill as gardener, working in a supermarket selling the IT stuff, an  internship in Local culture center where from my initiative I was making workshops for older people about basic of computers. After I worked foran internet TV as operator and editor, I was trainer of multimedia workshops from UE, I was working in a warehouse and as a driver. I was making photography  and video from wedding. Finally I was working for a marketing agency as graphic and web designer.  All the time additionally I was trying to work as freelancer . In the same time I was studying during the weekends – Friday, Saturday, Sunday.

On this life journey I had the feeling that I love some of this jobs and other are not for me. This was for me enlightenment that working with people is something I really want to do. It is giving me positive energy.

I was looking for a job in Poland because the situation was not stable one more time. But I decided to look at EVS Data Base. I have choose the topic which I was interesting in and I got the list of opportunities. I figured out in Barcelona they were looking for one polish person. Once understood the tasks they were offering, I decided to send my cover letter and curriculum before the deadline. I really loved the tasks – it was something for me.

I caught the opportunity to go out one more time from my comfort zone and take a risk going to the new country, new city with no idea about the language. I didn’t have time to be worried, because before moving I needed to make up my mind.

All in all, my decisions from the past, good and terrible ones, leaded me to the moment I am living in Barcelona with an open-mind attitude.

In the first moment I went out the metro I had a curious feeling to belong to this city. I want to stay here more than my EVS project and I want to learn some new languages. But in few moments I realized that I was not ready for that shock. As Barcelona is in the region of Catalunya, they are speaking Catalan and Castellano. First few months it was hard learning by my own. By now I am able to understand a little, say something and recognize this two languages.

In the end of November I will start my Catalan course. I hope I will be smart enough to learn 3 languages in this same time, because I still need to work on my English.

As a volunteer I took it as a challenge to prove myself. I was a support person in the Youth Exchange organized by my hosting Organization – FCV. It was a test for me. Afterward I surely knew that I am in the good place surrounded by good people.  And I did my tasks really well and I really enjoyed working with people. In FCV I am working on graphic design and website design in order to promote volunteering and projects for youth.

In the future I would like to have my own organization which will be helping young people with tough situation. Since I am here I was able to talk with few foundation´s members and I know that this is not an easy path, but if you are crazy, stubborn and brave enough you can change the world. This sentence which fits perfectly comes to mind: “Poco a poco y buena letra”.

Another sentence I love so much that I started working at project with this name: “No passa res”, you will hear soon about it!

For me it’s first time I am living abroad. I only regret I didn’t know about all this opportunities when I was younger. Maybe it comes for me late but for sure now I will help organizations informing and promoting volunteering youth opportunists in EU.

I went also to my on-arrival training where have meet more people who decided to go to EVS in my age and who have got similar situation, yet I will write soon about that!

Marcin

Original article is written by me and copied from:
https://www.catalunyavoluntaria.cat/en/evs-in-barcelona-at-30yo/

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