Maria from Spain spent eight months in the UNA Exchange office as an EVS volunteer. She dedicated her time to promoting international volunteering and developing her media skills. Read her experience here.
“Before coming to my EVS in Wales I was unemployed. After six months looking for a job in Madrid with two degrees and one master degree but lots of doors closed I decided to take a risk and go abroad to continue my professional career. I didn’t want to waste more time and more energy in Spain. I have experience working as a communication staff in several Spanish NGOs and for me was important to work abroad in the same area and know more about British non-profit organizations. I found EVS and after one month more or less I arrived to Cardiff to work with UNA Exchange. With EVS you can live and work abroad without pay anything and also this was really important to make this decision.
Everything happens very quickly
My arrival in Wales was a little bit hurried. It was only one month between when I applied for this project, I did my interview and I took my flight in Madrid to come to Cardiff, city that became my home for following eight months. Some friends told me that everything had happened very quickly but I had very good feelings and I couldn’t say no. At least I wanted to try. I arrived a little bit lost and with a great deal of questions. When I took the flight started my first doubts and insecurities. Did I choose the best project? Will I be capable to be far away of my family and my boyfriend for a lot of time? Could I live in a new country speaking a new language? But as soon as I knew my project, my colleagues and my housemates I realized that my choice was the best.
For eight months I was living with volunteers from other countries in the house. For me they were my family in Cardiff. My housemates were a big support for me every day. We spend lot of time together, cooking or doing outdoor activities. It’s nice to know that you will have someone to talk at home about how was your day, as you normally do with your family.
Working in the UNA Exchange office
My EVS project was focused on communication and promotion of UNA Exchange projects, trainings, activities and events. I enjoyed to be part of an amazing team and all people I met in Wales. Work in a nice atmosphere was one of my favourite things. It is important to feel that your colleagues support you and feel that you are doing something useful. I did many different activities. I was working with UNA social networks (facebook and twitter) creating a new and stronger communication strategy. I was collaborating to create a new website more interactive and easier to find our information and projects. Also was very important to me to create with a Spanish graphic designer our new promotional material (flyers and postcards) to have more a paper support to promote UNA Exchange. Other of my tasks was to create a photo bank to have a lot of photography material to use in different ways. During summer I was leading a work camp and after that I was doing trainings related to this trying to learn more about this area.
Work and live in an inter cultural atmosphere was really positive. I learned a lot meeting people from different backgrounds and points of view. For me was special meet really interesting people from different countries and share with them my daily life. Sometimes I found it difficult to understand that British people have other way to do things, maybe slower and more relax. I consider myself a person really active but sometimes I lost lot of my energy waiting for an answer. Other times I finished a meeting really lost as well, without knowing the next steps to do or without a conclusion. To overcome this I tried to work by myself, to be enterprising and try to propose things instead of wait for an answer or wait that someone tell me what to do.
After volunteering you will never be the same
During my EVS I learned that I am stronger than I thought at the beginning. After this experience I thing that I can do everything, I feel capable. Dealing with problems show me that life is not easy (as one of my friends say) but always you can find something positive in all situations. For me was a really enriching experience personally and professionally. Personally I learned that nothing is impossible, and if you want to achieve something, if you have the energy, you can do it. I met really nice and interesting people. I gained independence and confidence. I learned to be proactive, to have initiative, to be more flexible and to listen other points of view and opinions. Professionally I learned more things about communication, about how to organize a communications daily work and how to create (without a previous idea or model) a communications strategy or model. I feel ready to find a job in Spain and follow my dreams. This experience in Wales during 8 months working in the non-profit sector will help me a lot looking for a job in my country.
I think EVS is a really enriching experience. You meet incredible people, you forget all your prejudices and stereotypes. You have time to think about what you want to achieve, and how you want to follow your dreams. And it is true, after volunteering you will never be the same.”
- Live and volunteer abroad up to twelve months and meet people from all over the world!
UNA Exchange’s European Voluntary Service (EVS) offers amazing , fully funded, long-term volunteer experiences abroad for everyone aged 17-30.
Sign up for your EVS project and start the journey that will change your life!