MY WONDERFUL VOLUNTEER EXPERIENCE IN NORTHERN IRELAND

Hi everyone! I’m Giulia, I was born in Faenza and I’m an ecologist. As soon as I finished university I started working, but there was something missing in my life. I always wanted to live abroad for a while, doing something maybe linked to my interest for the environment, but I never really had the chance to. I then discovered the European Solidarity Corps program, and found a lot of environment volunteer programs to apply to.

Incredibly, I was chosen to join the Ranger team of a National Trust property in Northern Ireland! The Ranger team duty is to take care of the maintenance of all the green surroundings of a beautiful neo-classical country house, with free accommodation on site for the volunteers, and the unique opportunity to learn tons of stuff, including the English language! With the help of S.E.M.I I managed to organize my departure, and I finally arrived in July 2021.

I was initially really scared, I left my stable job to jump in the dark, toward something completely unknown! I will admit, the first month wasn’t easy. Getting used to the new place, culture, food, accent…is hard, but with a bit of time, I ended up loving every single bit of my experience. I found really good friends, tried (surprisingly!) really good food, lived incredible adventures and was even able to cope with the crazy Irish weather. I remember one time I had a traditional Irish dinner in a sheep farm, a dinner well earned after an entire afternoon passed dipping sheep into a water tank full of die.

At first, I was really perplexed, but I then discovered it’s something you do in order to make them look prettier before taking them to the market for selling them. (of course nothing harmful for the sheep!). I helped the property staff during the wedding of the daughter of a Lord, learned to cut the grass with 5 different tools and how to build a fence, climbed the famous mountain called stairway to heaven, visited beautiful places, and more and more. I also met the love of my life! I couldn’t ask more from this experience, and I feel my life is completely changed thanks to it. I became more open-minded, less scared of taking chances, and more aware of how the things work outside the comfort zone I grew up into.

After 9 months, my volunteer program came to an end. I am still really sad, but I knew other adventures were waiting for me. I found a job in Ireland, and decided to stay a bit longer here. I miss home, and I know one day I will return, but I will never be the same again!

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