After my MSc and 2 years of science educator work in my country, Spain, I felt stack. I needed to make a change and move forward. I’ve always loved discovering new places and I’d been living in other countries before, so I knew what change I had to do: GO ABROAD.
As Environmental Scientist, my first option was to go abroad and work or volunteer in projects related to nature conservation or environment protection, but I was also interested in social affairs. I searched for different opportunities and I found out about European Voluntary Service. Even though I would have liked to go abroad Europe, I decided to apply. Any experience in a foreign country gives you a unique chance to enrich yourself, and in the same time to contribute to the local community’s life. Luckily, at the end I could do both: I worked for more than 4 months outside Europe and now, I’m a volunteer in Slovenia.
I decided to come to Slovenia, not only for the country, but mainly for the topics of the project: migrants/refugees inclusion, nature, communications and tourism. If I had to choose one word to describe the feelings I had while I was coming it would be ‘curiosity’. If I had to choose one word to describe how I felt after two days, it would be ‘puzzled’. When I could finally reach ‘my new home’, it was full of trash from my supposed EVS project partner, who “escaped” before we could meet. So… it meant that after cleaning I would have to live and work alone (I’m not sure yet if it was a good or a bad thing).
Anyways, I live in a very small village, Kostanjevica na Krki, surrounded by forests, farms and a very nice river (where, in summer, you can swim). The place is very beautiful, peaceful and far from cities… Everything sounds great, but believe me; when you are alone, in winter, without organised work in such an isolated place, it can be very challenging. The organisation I’m working with is, as the village, very very small. Usually, my coordinator travels a lot, so for the first months she was barely a few weeks here and I didn’t have any scheduled activity to start working or just dedicate my time to. During that time, I met some other (great) volunteers. Saved? No… Unfortunately the public transport in Slovenia doesn’t give you many facilities (or options) to move around the country, which meant that, despite meeting people, I was still quite isolated in this wonderful place.
In general, during the first months, I was disappointed because the project was not working as I thought it would. Nothing was going on and whatever I wanted to do, I had to start it from the very beginning. I dedicated a lot of time to plan and to think about how to manage it and sometimes, I was quite frustrated (I could really understand why ‘my project mate’ left). However, something inside myself was telling me ‘’be patient, it will be better and you’ll learn from this’’. And I think I’m doing it. Also my mentor is inspiring me a lot.
Spring came and projects started slowly to bloom. Also my coordinator stopped travelling a bit and helped me to deal with the situation. Although the conditions can be difficult, there’s always sun after the storm, and I usually try to be optimistic. Nowadays, I help my coordinator with some of her own projects and I organise different activities for kids and adults related to science, environment protection or culture. Nevertheless, as I have a very flexible schedule, I take the opportunity to travel and get to know the surrounding countries.
At the end, it is not bad, this opportunity allows me to meet very interesting people, discover new places as well as to learn and grow personally.