The experience of a Volunteer in Austria: What Have I Learnt?

Volunteering in Austria. I work in the 6th biggest city in Austria, Klagenfurt, which is the capital city of the south region of Austria, Carinthia. I’m at the end of my 3rd month here, and now that summer is coming, I can really say I love it. I will be here for another 7 months. This is my second time in a foreign country, working as a volunteer, in an youth organization.

JuliaSomething traveling by train

My 2 months EVS in Turkey

My first project as a volunteer with EVS (European Voluntary Service) was last summer in Turkey, where I spend 2 interesting months, filled with new experiences and friends. In that project, one of my tasks was to write about the turkish culture and the cultural and touristic landmarks. Some of my impressions:

How it all started …

I remember how I found that project by chance, and how bad I wanted to go, even though at that time I had a 9 to 6 job in Romania. And I am so happy that I did. I followed my intuition, and my world expanded. I got a new perspective over life. After my project was over, I came back home and quitted my job, due to a number of reasons. When people ask me why did I quit, I answer simply “Because it wasn’t making me happy”. And that’s true. Time should not be wasted on something or someone that doesn’t make you happy. And for this I have to thank all the people that were in my project, for just being there, at the right place at the right time. Thank you!

Time should not be wasted on something or someone that doesn’t make you happy.

Finding my EVS in Austria

Then in January this year, I started looking for another EVS project, but this time I was very strict about the country. I wanted Austria or Germany, because my purpose was to learn german. And I must tell you, by this amazing and incredible coincidence I found this amazing 10 months project in Klagenfurt, Austria.

I can say I am truly lucky, because at the beginning the project was for 12 months, but they accepted me for just 10 months. The thing with the EVS projects is that a person cannot be a volunteer in one or more projects for more than 12 months. And since I’ve been into another project for 2 months, my maximum time for another project was 10 months. So I asked if they could make it shorter, and they did. So don’t ever be afraid of asking for what you want, because the worse case scenario is getting a “no”, which was the answer by default if you would have never asked.

JuliaSomething at Schonbrunn, Vienna

Don’t ever be afraid of asking for what you want. In the worse case scenario, the answer is “no”.

As a volunteer, I work in a Youth Center with teenagers from 12 to 18 years old. I am also a part of the team of day caring for smaller kids, from 6 to 12 years old, 2h per day. Occasionally I work in another youth center, which is in the city center and it’s frequented by teenagers between 12 and 27 years old.

You can read more about this amazing experience I had here so far, which was a really cool pilgrimageVierbergelauf, the pilgrimage of Carinthia.

Why do I do it?

Volunteering has teached me more about myself than I ever knew. Living by myself, in a foreign country, learning how to manage a grown up life, but I guess it’s better late than never.

The purpose in life is to be happy, and we all agree that from an early age we are thought money brings happiness. But I expect by now most of us have realized that isn’t even close to reality.

I consider myself very lucky to have the opportunity to work in such a diversified environment. Contributing to their development into adulthood is something we all own them. In the same time experiencing another culture and mentality concerning this stage in people’s life, which sometimes I can say it’s different from the environment in which I grow up. I value greatly this experience, because it offers me personal and professional growth in the same time.

Volunteering is for me…

  • an opportunity to do things I’ve never done before
  • working in a different environment
  • experiencing diversity, regarding culture, mentality and people
  • being a part of someone else’s life
  • learning to appreciate
  • providing the optimal ground to grow personally and professionally

I remember this thing I’ve read someone some time ago “Travel is the only thing money can buy, that can make you happy”, and for me it’s one of my most cherished beliefs. Travel manages to position you in two very unique situations, in the same time: the feeling of being alone while being surrounded by a mass of people. It’s a paradox in which every one of us should be in at least once in life, because the only possible outcome it’s becoming a better version of oneself regarding life perspectives.

It is hard to explain it in words and that’s why I encourage everyone to travel whenever the opportunity strikes. But opportunity is just another word for priorities, so in the end it’s a matter of what you want.

opportunity is just another word for priorities

This is a really short video I made about my European Voluntary Service, feel free to watch it and I am always open for any questions you may have about my project:

Have you ever been volunteering for a cause?