My Name is Stefanie, and I am from Osnabrück, Germany.
I wanted to go abroad to learn about a new culture and to improve my intercultural skills. Before I came to Blanes I finished my Master’s degree in Cultural Science in Germany and after staying in the University for a couple of years I wanted to make my own experiences. The European Solidarity Corps project was a good opportunity for me because, different from many others you get financial support, help with your documents and your travel and you have the chance to live and work together with other volunteers. In addition to that, there is a large range of projects with various offers.
The project that I chose is called “Solidarity Corps 2.0” in the Botanical Garden Marimurtra in Blanes, Spain. The garden is at the top of steep cliffs, directly at the sea and very famous for Blanes.
My Project started in September 2020 and ended in August 2021, so in total I spend around 12 months here.
During this project me and the other volunteers helped with the sustainable conservation of the collection of plants in the Garden, supported tasks related to the effects of climate change, provided educational opportunities to young people about social, cultural, and ecological topics and to raise the biodiversity of the garden. We worked from Monday to Friday, two days in the office with more theoretical related tasks and the other three days we spend in the garden with other gardeners to learn about practical work. Our working hours changed from time to time, depending on the season and on the Covid measurements. Because I worked and lived in a new cultural environment learned a lot about myself and other things:
- Living together with other volunteers with a different background, attitude and thinking
- To be open about new things independent from my expectations
- Learning about my own limits
- Language barriers can cost difficulties
- To feel like a foreigner and how to deal with this
- Gardening working and knowledge about plants, ecological topics, and conservation of plants
- To use different languages with different people
- New culture and new places
- To stay in contact with friends and family even they are not nearby
- To get along with differences from the things that you know and that you are used to
All these points will have an impact on how I see certain things in the future and how I can deal better with unknown situations. Especially the fact that I can better empathize now with people who are foreign in a country, is important to me. I am able to understand better know, how you feel when you don’t speak the language, and when its hard to get to know new people and when you have to integrate yourself in a new cultural environment. With my studies in cultural science its necessary for me not only to learn in a theoretical way, but also to make my own experiences to really get an understanding of peoples thinking and feelings.
I would definitely recommend other people to do an ESC if they get the chance. But before you must think about what you want to do and if you are able to do this. Going abroad can be a nice experience, but it is also not easy. You have to be aware of the positive and the negative sides and I think there are people that can’t take that much out of a voluntary service than others would to. It’s also about your own personality and what you think it’s good for yourself.
All in all, the time in Blanes will stay positive in my mind. It was not always easy, but I really enjoyed staying here, meet new people, and discover a different life offside my life in Germany. Blanes is a nice place to live. With the sea, the nature around and the life in the city you have a nice atmosphere and if you want to go out you have various possibilities to do that. I enjoyed staying at the port and to eat and drink something at one of the numerous bars and restaurants at the promenade. And if you want to move a little bit more you can make a walk up to the castle to have a nice view over Blanes.