V februarju 2020 se je CZM ekipi v okviru projekta Evropska solidarnostna enota pridružila prostovoljka Barbara. V okviru svoje prostovoljskega dela se je lotila pisanja bloga, kjer bo delila svoje izkušnje in poglede na prostovoljstvo in čas, ki ga preživi v Sloveniji, hkrati pa se je lotila tudi raziskovanja različnih priložnosti za mlade.
Ustvarila je tudi svojo blog strani EN LA MALETA DE BARBI, kjer objavlja v španskem in slovenskem jeziku: https://barbarafergarcia.wixsite.com/enlamaletadebarbi
Almost six months living in Slovenia. Time flies! And I can safely safe that I’ve been making the most of my time in here. As soon as the borders were opened I started making plans with other volunteers. I travelled all around Slovenia and I even got to make a 5-days trip to Croatia.
In May I visited: Šmarna Gora, Velika Planina, Soča Valley and Bohinj Lake and my conclusion is: Slovenia is the most underrated country in Europe! You have the most beautiful landscapes I have ever seen and I wonder why I didn’t know about this before!
The thing that shocked me the most is the Soča River and its unbelievable emerald color (also how cheap the gas is right now).
I realized that after many months living here I hadn’t tried any Slovenian food, and for a food lover as I am that is unforgivable! So I decided every time I make a trip I have to try something typical. The first thing I got to try is the Strujlki on the top of Velika Planina, after a long hiking it was the best reward. Verdict?: I loved it so much! Now, every time that we make a trip, we ended it up always with: “who wants struklj?!” and of course the answer is everybody.
Later in June we organized a trip to Postojna castle and Cross Cave. Fun fact: nobody in Slovenia knew about this cave, and honestly I can’t believe it, they are quite amazing.
But the best of June obviously was the trip to Croatia. I spent 5 days in Split and Zadar. I got to swim in the sea after almost 4 years and that is priceless. The best part (for us at least, for the economy probably not) was that due to the virus there were no tourists at all so we enjoyed every place without the crowds. Worst part was the sunburnt I got on my feet because I forgot to put sunscreen. One thing is for sure: I will never again forget to put it on my feet.
And finally, in July, I could see a little bit of the Slovenian coast in Ankaran. I must confess that I did not really like this place. Anyway, in Ankaran I could meet a lot of volunteers in a event organized by the national agency. I had a great time there knowing more about other’s projects. Some of them are now great friends that I hope I will see soon. I am glad that despite the virus I still got the chance to meet them. This is probably one of the greatest things about ESC: meeting new people, sharing experiences, making new friends…
And last weekend I could finally visit the famous Triglav National Park. If you have visited it I don’t need to say anything, if you haven’t: What are you waiting for???!!!
Hello again! When I was told about making short posts about my experience in Slovenia, never in a lifetime I’d have imagined that I was going to make a post about »My quarantine in Slovenia«.
Many people would think that my experience was ruined because of the current situation, but truth is, it gave me the time that I needed. So, imagine if even in this case I do not regret taking part on this project, how good can be in normal circumstances.
During this… month (I lost count of days the first week) I had time to do so many things: I discovered beautiful places around the hostel, time to write on my own blog, to read, to watch movies and TV shows, to cook and learn new recipes… I guess the same that all of you have been doing. The only difference, and I bet you won’t win me in this: I have been living alone in a hostel! I mean, I already have something really interesting to tell my friends in Spain! 😉
I am not going to lie, it has been hard sometimes: I am far away from my family, alone in a new country, too much (mis)information, people sick all around the world. But I took this time as a learning-experience and I have embraced both the good and bad times, understanding that there is no one without the other and that is okay. This situation has made me learn many things in a short period of time, and I am actually grateful for that because I am going to take them with me for the rest of my life. Things that in normal circumstances in Spain I would have never learnt or took the time to think about. Just for this reason, I think coming to Slovenia was the best decision I have ever made.
The main things I have done to cope with the situation:
-Meditate (a whole lot of this). This allowed me to think about what I want to do next, and what I do not want for me in my life.
-I did exercise at home. It is not me who says so, science says it: doing exercise makes you happier. And it is true, after doing exercise I felt so good that for the rest of the day that I did not have to think about coronavirus
-I learnt new vegetarian recipes. I also took this time to reduce my meat consumption. Best time to start reducing my impact on mother earth 😊
-I am trying to do my first puzzle ever. I always wanted to work on my patience skills and, for sure, this is the best time to do so.
-I went for walks (alone, remember social distancing) and I got to see more of this beautiful place, enjoying the spring, my favorite season. It is official that I am in love with Slovenia.
-Do nothing. With all the media telling us how important is to do things and being productive, I started feeling anxious when I felt like doing nothing. Until I understand that doing nothing it is as important as being productive, because at the end we should do what our body feels like doing in that moment. I started listening more my body, and doing whatever it felt right in that moment, and I do not have to feel shame or guilt for that.
-Writing a “positive diary”: this has helped me a lot. With so many bad news, all the time talking about coronavirus… I started feeling really negative and sad. So, I decided to write down things that made me happy during these days, positive feelings. Because I do think that even in the darkest moments it is possible to find things that make us laugh.
I feel really proud of what I have accomplished until now; it is true that I can’t wait everything to go back to normal, but I am trying to enjoy as much as I can this time without thinking too much about the future.
I am sure you are more than used to these landscapes, but I am not, and every morning that I open the window and I see this and it is sunny, I smile:
So maybe you can also can take time to appreciate the beautiful place you live in 😊
And that is my second post about my experience in Slovenia, a different but also a special one.
Hello again! During this worldwide crisis I had (and I think I will have) plenty of free time, so I’ve decided to use part of it looking for information in order to answer the most frequent question I got: how can you travel so much?
I came to realize that many times people don’t travel because they don’t know the possibilities out there. Many people ask me where I got the money from to travel, they believe that just if you are rich can travel. So, this is what’s going to be the post about: money is NOT a problem if you want to travel, so you can start looking for new excuses not to travel!
Personally, I believe that living abroad, even if it is only for a few months, brings you many things that you will take with you for the rest of your life. Also, I always think of it this way: if you don’t try, you will never know if it was for you. On the other hand, if you try and you consider that it is not for you, there is always time to return. In any case, you have always learned something positive: what you want and what you don’t.
Traveling and living abroad gives you the opportunity to open your mind, to grow up, to meet people, other cultures and traditions, other ways of seeing life. Even if you have lived in a shared apartment with other students, it will never be the same. When you arrive in a new country you mature at once by realizing everything you have to do on your own. This does not mean that you will be alone, you will always have the support of someone: other foreigners, local people, university coordinators… you would be surprised by the number of such good people there are in the world…
Okay, let’s start then:
EURODESK: this is not exactly an opportunity to travel, but I wish I had known this before. It is kind of a “opportunity finder”. Eurodesk is an international non-profit association that makes information on learning mobility comprehensive and accessible to young people and those who work with them. If you access this link https://programmes.eurodesk.eu/learning you will see that you can find opportunities of: learning, volunteering, internships, grants…
Now, I am going to organize the options in: jobs, volunteering and education so it will be easier for you to find what you are interested in. Keep in mind that there are way more options than the ones I am putting here, but I would need too many more pandemics to find all of them. In fact, if you know any other option please let me know so I can put it here.
1. EURES/YOUR FIRST EURES JOB
EURES is a cooperation network designed to facilitate the free movement of workers within the EU-27 countries plus Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. Basically, it is like an Employment Services Office that works in Europe, and at the same time at national and local level with associated offices. These offices can be the Public Employment Services of your hometown, they will provide the information you need, job offers… Here’s the link so you can find more detailed information: https://ec.europa.eu/eures/public/en/eures-services.
Besides, EURES offers the program »Your first EURES job«, which is an EU job mobility scheme with the goal of helping young EU citizens find a job, traineeship or apprenticeship opportunity within the EU and helping employers find qualified workforce. Attention! This is the first opportunity to find financial support to attend the interview abroad, cover costs such as language training, relocation to the destination country… Here’s the link to see the general conditions and how to register: https://ec.europa.eu/eures/public/en/your-first-eures-job-js?lang=en&app=0.16.1p7-build-1&pageCode=your_first_eures_job_js
2. HOLIDAY WORK/WORK AND TRAVEL
Regardless the name, the idea is the same: working abroad during your holidays so you can pay the expenses of your trip. It is a good idea for those with a low budget or for those who want to do something during their holidays and earn some experience for their resume.
This kind of program is really common in the US, Canada, Australia… The following are considerations you should keep on mind:
-For these countries you will need a visa, and it is given a limited number of them annually, so you should look for the job with enough time in advance.
-In United States is mandatory to make the process trough an agency. These are the sponsors that the government recognizes as “official”: https://j1visa.state.gov/participants/how-to-apply/sponsor-search/?program=Summer%20Work%20Travel. These sponsors have at the same time agencies in each country that will help you with the whole process: getting the visa, finding a job, providing assistance when you are in the country… You just need to search in google about the agencies that provide those services in your country.
-In other countries like Australia and Canada it is not mandatory; however, it will make so much easier the process if you do not know where to look for the job, how to get the visa… It is true that the initial investment may seem really high, but, in theory, you should get it back once you started working.
-If you don’t want to spend all that money, if you feel overwhelmed for all the process, you also have the option to work in EU (if you are an EU citizen). It doesn’t look like a bad plan at all to spend a summer in the French coast 😊
Here’s some links to look for job offers:
3. AU PAIR
I think I do not have much to explain, but for those who do not know it, the Au Pair program consists of a cultural exchange in which you will live with a family, take care of the children and, sometimes, you will also do household chores. In exchange you receive some pocket money, the amount will depend on the country you work in and the family. You will receive full accommodation.
From personal experience (I worked as an Au Pair for 11 months in the United States), here’s some tips that I consider important for you to enjoy a good experience. Precisely I say this because my experience was not very positive and I made many mistakes that led to that outcome, but I know that it can be a great opportunity (I have many friends who did it and have no complaints!):
-First of all, this program is designed for people who like to work with children. Do not accept an Au Pair job just because you want to live abroad, because you will end up having a hard time and the children will not be receiving the treatment they truly deserve.
-Before you start looking for a family, take time to think about what you want, what your goals are, what you are and what you are not willing to do, etc. Once you have that defined, look for the families that best adapt to your conditions. Do not rush. Talk to families to get to know them as well as possible.
-If you carry out the entire process without any intermediary agency, I advise you (very much) to leave a written contract, signed by both parties, which reflects what your tasks, schedules, salary will be …
-For countries like the USA it is mandatory (as in the holiday work) to do it through an intermediary agency. Do not accept direct work from a family. It is illegal.
https://j1visa.state.gov/participants/how-to-apply/sponsor-search/?program=Au%20Pair (list of designated sponsors by the american government)
If your thing is to go backpacking, this is a perfect opportunity! In this web there are opportunities throughout the world to work in hostels, communities,… doing work in exchange for accomodation https://www.worldpackers.com/.
1. EUROPEAN SOLIDARITY CORPS
I already talked about this in my first post. The only thing I will repeat is that it is an incredible experience. Even now that I’m home because of the damn virus, I don’t regret a thing, and I keep learning things daily. I will leave you the link again in case you are interested: https://europa.eu/youth/solidarity_en. In addition, this is another of the opportunities that the EU finances: they pay you the plane tickets, the stay, and you receive pocket money. If you manage yourself well, you won’t spend a single euro!
2. INTERNATIONAL VOLUNTEERING
This is well known and there are so many possibilities that it is impossible to put them all here. In my opinion, this is a unique opportunity, but you must be very well prepared psychologically and physically because in this case your help is very much needed and if you do not have the necessary conditions you will not be able to offer what is expected of you. The economic investment may seem big, but the reality is that you will get much more than what you give.
A few days ago, I discovered this program that I found very interesting. It is a voluntary service in which you spend three months in Denmark preparing yourself with the association, six months in the destination volunteering and another month to reflect and share about the experience. The destinations where you can volunteer are Mozambique, Malawi, Zambia, India and Guinea Bissau. I leave you the link: https://lindersvold.dk/international-development-volunteer/
This is only an example, as I said there are many more. You will have to take your time to find the one that best suits you.
3. VOLUNTEERING IN THE UNITED NATIONS
I will not lie, it does not seem easy to obtain, but what an experience! With the United Nations you can be a volunteer both at home and abroad, and even online.
If you meet all the requirements they request, you have to register on their website
As I have read on their website, many opportunities (both national and abroad) are not published, but they themselves contact the registered people whose CV can best suit their needs. Therefore, it is important that you prepare your CV well and register on its website. In any case, this registration does not mean that you are going to have an opportunity immediately, it may take a long time … On other occasions they will publish the opportunities, so it is good to be alert to their promotion channels (https://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/jobs.html
If you are interested, therefore, the first thing you should do is enter the link and register.
4. YOUTH EXCHANGES
This option is offered by the ERASMUS + program and it is perfect for those who want to live an experience abroad but only for short periods, its duration is between 5 and 21 days. Basically, you will travel to another country to work with groups of people from different countries on various projects, which can be workshops, outdoor activities … The best part: The EU offers grants that will cover travel expenses!
It cannot be requested individually; you must do it through an organization or youth group. I leave the link of the organization with which I got volunteering in Slovenia. There are plenty of them in each country, you just need to look for on the internet or even in your hometown you may know one organization.
In this case, whether you are at the university or school, it is important that you contact your ERASMUS + counselor / coordinator, etc. and ask him what the opportunities are. Unfortunately, you are not always going to receive great service from them. In my case, for example, my coordinator at the university was quite saturated with so many tasks that in the end he misinformed rather than inform. But hey, I recommend you to try it. Above all, because the more you learn, the more chances you will have of finding different scholarships that will help you pay for the exchange.
1. ERASMUS +
This program is well known throughout the world. However, it can offer more than many believe. In addition to the typical exchange in your third / fourth year of university, ERASMUS + offers opportunities for: professors, internships, people who are not in university and want to do a short volunteer service, young workers who want to do internships or study visits. Link to see what ERASMUS + can really offer: https://ec.europa.eu/programmes/erasmus-plus/opportunities/overview_en.
If you are a person who likes to meditate the place to go to, I have found this link where you can see all the universities that participate in the Erasmus + program with evaluations of former students (Keep in mind that not all of them have an agreement with your university so first find out what options your school offers you): https://www.iagora.com/studies/
2. EXCHANGE PROGRAM
If you are not from the EU, I am pretty sure your university still offers the opportunity to study abroad one or more semesters. In my case, for example, I did both Erasmus and an exchange program in Brazil because my university allowed me to do so.
It is a great experience that everybody should live. Contact your university to know the options you have. Trust me, even if your budget is limited, there are plenty of options and for sure there will be one that suits you.
3. ERASMUS MUNDUS JOINT MASTER DEGREE
Master’s program in which you study for 12-24 months in at least 2 of the countries participating in this program. In this link you can see which countries are participating and what are the degree options: https://eacea.ec.europa.eu/erasmus-plus/library/scholarships-catalogue_en.
Scholarships are offered for the best students to cover transportation, tuition and monthly money. This help is received once you have been accepted into the program.
In case you are interested, enter the link and contact the organization. Applications should normally be sent between October and January for the following academic year.
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