Let’s kick this experience off!

Hi everyone!! My name is Paula and I’m excited to announce to you that I’m one of the new short-term volunteers!! Yuuuuuhuu 🙂 

I love to learn new things and the best way for me is meeting new people, from whom I always learn so much! Inspiring people change our lives! 

I graduated last year in Industrial Engineering after five wonderful years where nature, music, new adventures and good friends have been present. I love discovering other cultures and spots, and this is the main reason why I started doing Erasmus+ projects. 

I did my first Youth Exchange last September: ‘Greeneration Z’, where we lived for 9 days off-grid in a beautiful community in Bunovo, Bulgaria. The connection among us, the 36 participants, was lovely, and in this experience I learned how fascinating the Erasmus+ programme is. It is not only about travelling and meeting new people but also about knowing yourself, improving your skills and growing personally. And this is when I realized that it was the perfect moment to participate in an ESC programme. I participated from October to December in a ‘Volunteering Teams’ called ‘Port of Call’ in Porto Rafti, Greece. I spent 2 months co-living with 17 other wonderful people developing non-formal education activities to support the local community. 

These experiences were great and I thought that I wanted to get more involved in Erasmus+ and ESC and start creating my own Youth Exchange. At the same time, I wanted to do my short-term with a very active organisation to prepare as many events as possible, who cares about young people and sustainability! Searching on the internet, I discovered ABS and I thought that it could be the perfect place to learn. They have a lot of experience and they are really active in Bulgaria and with many connections around Europe. I felt really comfortable in the interview and lucky me… ABS was gonna be my new place for the next two months! 

I prepared everything and when I was ready in the train station with my luggage for my new experience, they told me that the train and my airplane was canceled because of the Filomena storm in Madrid… Oh no!!! So I had to wait a few days and change my flights until I could finally leave! And after a looong trip, when I arrived at the bus station of Blagoevgrad, my 3 flatmates were there to pick me up and take me home!!! Soooo cute 

From that moment, I noticed that we were gonna have a lot of fun together. And after 10 days here I can confirm that it has been so much fun with these people! And I still have two months ahead!! Excitingggg !!

I arrived at 08:40 and at 10:00 we were in the office, where with some icebreakers I met the rest of the volunteers. They explained to me all the stuff that they were doing in ABS and I really liked the way of working in the office… Working hard when needed and also enjoying and sharing while working. That day it was the cleaning event at 16:00 and it was really cool. We went to ‘Bachinovo Park’ and collected so much trash among the volunteers and other local youth (due to COVID, we can gather up to 15 people). After a long day, I needed to go to bed soon! 

The following days in the office were really nice. At the beginning I was a little bit lost but very fast I began to learn all the things we had to do and how to do it. The most experienced volunteers are always there to help and solve all your questions!! And I also met my mentor, who is super cool! 

On the weekend, we went skiing in the outskirts of Blagoevgrad and it was super cool!! Nature here is beautiful and we enjoyed the day so much. 

 During the next week, we had the intercultural week, where I learned a lot from other countries and we celebrated with an intercultural night with delicious dishes!! Matias (the other spanish volunteer) and I prepared Tortilla de patatas and sangría . I hope to make more events like this one because it was so cool! 

So far, my experience has been amazing and it was just one week! I love the town, the people and the way of working in ABS so… Let’s kick these two months off!

This article is created by Paula GARCIA RODRIGUEZ as part of her personal project. She is a participant in the “ESC: European Skills and Competencies” project, co-funded by the Bulgarian National Agency of Erasmus+ Program Human Resource Development Cen