I was accepted to a project about homeless people. I was preparing breakfast for them, sometimes I was cooking and finding fun activities for them. Although my project did not come out as I imagined, it was nice at all. While I was searching about the consequences regarding my departure from the project until the training, Everything has been changed at the training. We met with other volunteers, no matter how disappointing my first days were, my future days were unimaginably beautiful, enjoyable days (Even though I injured my wrist and left knee and couldn’t stay in my room for a month because I brought the bedbugs from the hostel where I stayed in Prague). I gained lots of frineds, collected good memories, seen 14 countries and improved my German and English (There is no obligation to know a language before you go, but if you have English, it may be very good for you). After all, it was the best experience I have had in my life.
Let’s talk about Austria. The first thing that caught my attention was the happiness of the people. The country is rich, has high welfare, and therefore you mostly face with happy people. Also, one of the first things that caught my attention was the presence of LGBT figures on the pedestrian traffic lights. I think people are comfortable, peaceful, they are not interested in other people’s lifes. In general, they are not looking for reasons to bother themselves. I mean, every tub must stand on its own bottom.
Austria is a beautiful, incredible country. Surrounded by the Alps, there are lakes everywhere and it’s lushly… It’s is one of the most beautiful countries to join an ESC project, if we ignore their cuisine. Unfortunately, it’s food culture did not appeal to me. But it’s location is really beautiful. Thanks to that, I was able to travel to many countries, especially to its 7 neighbors, without spending lots of money.
If we come to the project rules; dear friends, many things vary from one another. I will explain them by generalizing. It mainly depends on your good relationship with the project manager and the goodwill of the hosting organization. I have seen that there is a solution to every problem, including a volunteer’s dissatisfaction about her/his project and her/his willingness to change the project to another one. Your usage of your free/off days also depends on where you do your volunteer work. I was able to work extra within the week and add the number of hours I worked extra to my montly off days. But of course, this also depends on your communication with the hosting organization. If they believe in your goodwill, I can say that, they generally do not cause any problems. But I recommend that you should go to your project with the awareness of the rules and rights in detail. For example, your language course hours should be counted as your working hours or you should not be doing heavy work that you do not want because you are a working there as a volunteer.
My advice to you is to join your project with the knowledge of the rules and rights. Ask for photos of your accommodation place in advance and, if possible, get information by requesting the contact addresses of the former volunteers in your project. About your monthly payments, make them clear and left no question marks in your mind before you go. Your mentor is there to help you with your problems. If you have any problems during your project, contact him/her first. Do not spend unnecessary money on everything that you think you may need them beforehand. They are needed for your future trips and you will learn some places where you can buy them at cheap prices.
Well, that’s all from me. I hope I could at least have been useful for you to get some ideas. I wish you good luck for your projects. I hope you have nice project periods as you wanted. Remember, there will be problems, but, there will always be solutions for them, so prevent them from reaching a level that can effect your project. I’m leaving my contact address, I’ll try to help you as much as I can for your questions.
Ayça Demirci (Volunteer of AGH-21 Avusturya)