European Voluntary Service > Letters from abroad > Karolin Tsarski - Spain

A letter about an EVS experience in the outskirts of Madrid

In the middle of my final exams for university I noticed an email in my inbox, “Volunteering project in Spain, are you interested?” As one looks for any excuse to get away from the reading I thought I might as well fill in the application. Four months later I’m sitting in a plane towards Madrid. I think to myself: “Why? Why am I doing this again? I’ve moved around enough, why do I have to put myself through yet another change when for once I seem to be quite comfortably settled?“ But these thoughts just stay with you for the short transit period. As soon as you are off that plane and welcomed by warm hugs from strangers, you jump into the adventure with a smile.

Everyone speaks Spanish. Arggh. I get a headache. You are constantly trying to focus to understand and can never actually talk since your limited vocabulary doesn’t let you express yourself.

I’m taken to my flat it’s ugly dark and cold. Oh so cold. But the lady seems nice and smiling, as do the other two men. And in the end that’s what matters. They are so patient with me trying to communicate in Spanish. Lovely. I like Peruvians. Come Christmas and you realize that your country is way too far and the plane tickets too expensive. It is then when the smiling lady you initially just communicated with smiles invites you to spend Christmas with her family and it becomes your family for that day.

Being a volunteer I suddenly was faced with unusual freedom. You do your work, which usually isn’t exactly head cracking and then you’re free…no obligations no worries. It took me a while to get used to it but then you immerse yourself…and life happens….some days you go without sleeping with everything going on at once new places new people new feelings new sensations…knowing that your time is limited in this new spot you want to take in all the experience that comes.. and then you can just calmly dose off for days. There is no such thing as daily routine.

The most beautiful thing about volunteering obviously is
the people you meet… the helpfulness the understanding…there’s always someone who puts a plate of food in front of you if you say you’re not hungry and not in the mood, or gives you a pep talk or simply a hug. And that’s special considering you’ve recently met these people. And that’s what makes you cry your eyes out when it’s all over and faced with the new change. But every end is a new beginning.

member of:
Volunteer Action for Peace, member of the Co-ordinating Committee for International Voluntary Service Volunteer Action for Peace, member of the Volunteer International Network Exchange UK
with the support of:
Volunteer Action for Peace, member of the European «Youth in Action» Programme

Quote of the day

« The outside world did not interfere, because it seemed so distant, and so we spent our spare time getting to know each other and learning about each other countries', languages and cultures. Everyone was completely relaxed. This simply would not have been possible on any other type of holiday. VAP enabled me to have a truly memorable experience. »

Ivan W. from London

Read more quotes