postcard from a volunteer

Aug 03  WHAT SWYN DID NEXT... - Spain
Spain environmental

In July we sent Swyn on a European Voluntary Service (EVS) project in Spain. Here is her first report:

Flat and Other Vols
I'm settling very well here, my flat mates are nice, one from Slovenia, one from Greece (Chicas) y un chico de Italia.  Y llegara un voluntario de El salvador el aproxima miercoles.  Cool eh? He is arriving from Latin America to Orense- Galicia on Wednesday.  I have a small room - last to arrive but very happy in it as it's quieter than the other larger rooms located at the front of street. It's on the fourth floor. In January I can change rooms if I wish when other volunteers leave. Will probably do it, as there will be more room for visitors who wish to come visit later on.
It's a very pleasant city to live in, half the size of Cardiff, lots of bars, a pretty roman bridge, and modern bridge, which curls up to the sky. Will get to know people slowly but surely. It's good to be here for the full one year to take full advantage of the experience. I'm very happy and chilled. There is also a beautiful convent, which we can see form our living room window. It's very hot at the moment (like all Europe I suppose) but will rain in winter. Another plus for Orense is that it has two Thermal Baths - I went last week with my flat mates; it was very relaxing, a dip in hot water and then cold - really nice...... At first I was like "what I'm going to do in Orense for 12 months!!!!" As you cannot compare it with the beauty of Santiago, but nonetheless it's a very pleasant city to live in - more real, less foreign tourist and students - I prefer this.  And it's exactly how I imagined it to be. Gonna be goooood!!!  :)
The centre has an office in Orense, 15 mins from my flat, it's a pleasant walk as I cross a Roman Bridge everyday, they also have an Albergue (Ecological Hostel) in the mountains about 15km from here - so hopefully I can divide my time between city life and country life - in this respect I'm very lucky. I'm here for a year so I am starting to generate some ideas on type of activities I would like to do while I'm here. One possibility is to plan a walking route in the country - one of many? Promotion, Interpretation, etc...
Isla de Ons
I'm also allowed to go on a course on an Island off the coast of Galicia - Isla de Ons. That will be really cool, I'm going alone, so it will be even better for my Spanish. The course is about volunteer management and environmental issues. Has a theory and practical part. Will be for 11 dias. Some topics of the course are Environmental Education and History, Environmental Policies, Environmental Problems, Interpretation of environment, Tourism in our environment. Practical part will include gallery of photos, guided routes... and other stuff, Ill tell you more once I come back to Orense. Two of the other volunteers will also go on a similar course on another island.  But for me it's really interesting combining my love of islands, nature, and learning more about enviro issues ... and in Spanish!!!! Todo!!!
EVS seminar very good - all in Spanish and I was able to understand everything. Casi todo! Nearly all.  I thought it was of good quality, we had Spanish lessons, communication and games, culture, solving problems, practicalities, and session on European projects: Youth Action 2 and Future Capital funding.... also on Spanish dancing and cinema.... and Spanish cooking. The variety of the course was very good.
It was very useful, down to organising money to type of phone card to buy. We had two breaks before lunch and also afternoon breaks, which broke the day very well, and kept our attention up and running, which we needed greatly after partying in Madrid. We had a lovely Spanish dinner, Paella and everything, and we went to see an outdoor theatre and had dinner outside while watching it in the old part of Madrid.  It was all well organised. Had a good time.  Meet other Vols  - really good.
Bye for now
Swyn XXX

Swyn Spencer
European Voluntary Service


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