Volunteer Abroad with ISV

I was fortunate enough to spend a month in the land down under this summer with International Student Volunteers – a fantastic volunteer organization.  Last October an ISV rep came into my classroom and talked about her time abroad – afterwards, I called my mom, rushed back to my apartment and after much encouragement by her and my sister; I signed up and put down the $500 deposit.  I knew I would be completely sick if I lost that much money – after all, I feel sick if I lose $20 at the casino. So I knew I couldn’t back out of this, and I would be able to cross off something on my bucket list.

I sent out letters to local businesses, collected returnable cans and was lucky enough to have such supporting friends and family help me go on this adventure.  In March I sent in the money, and two months later I was boarding a plane to fly 10,000 miles away from home on my first ever solo trip.

If anyone gets the opportunity to volunteer abroad, I strongly urge you to go for it.  Take a friend, sibling or roommate if you please, or go solo like I did.  I was able to meet some really great people, see some gorgeous places and experience things I never would have if I didn’t do the trip through ISV. International Student Volunteers plans your volunteer project for you and you have the option to go on the adventure tour.  Most of the meals were paid for, accommodations were taken care of, transportation in the destination country is taken care of, and they even take care of your international flights.  If planning vacations gives you a headache then that is another reason you should think about volunteering in a different country.

The people in general were so friendly.  We were working on the side of a river bank planting vines on a pretty hot day when the neighbor lady came out with plates of fresh bananas, passion fruit, cantaloupe and other delicious fruit. Never has fruit tasted so good.  Even on the days I was volunteering I still felt like I was on a vacation – the work days were so short we had plenty of time to explore the city.

A typical volunteer day went like this –
Wake up at 8am, eat breakfast, and be on the road by 9. Start working around 9:15-9:30 pulling weeds or planting. Tea time at 10:30. Plant and pull some more weeds. Take lots of pictures of the wildlife and flora (I was pulling weeds, and a funnel web spider came out. If you don’t know what those are, click here). Eat packed lunch around 12-12:30, sometimes ran to a coffeehouse. Get back to work and be done around 2:30-3. The days flew by so fast and was so much fun, you really learn a lot just by being out in nature and taking in a different culture.

After we were done for the day, we’d go do something depending on where we were staying.  We moved to three different places throughout our two weeks volunteering: Scouts Den, Brisbane Backpackers and then Bunk. Bunk was my favorite – it had a club called Birdees in it, and from our room we could watch everyone.  Every night there’d be something going on: trivia, comedy, or a live band.

If you’re in college I’d seriously consider volunteering abroad.


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