After finishing my studies, I was met with a familiar feeling of uncertainty – what next? Now, just a short while later, I find myself about to move to Hungary. Once there, I will spend 12 months volunteering in a media organisation, with travel, accommodation, and food all funded.
“Are you sure it is not a scam?” my friend asked when I spilled the details over a cup of tea. I had to agree that it does sound too good to be true, but rest assured, it is very much real! In fact, having scrolled through the European Voluntary Service (EVS) Database in which I found my Hungarian adventure, I can confirm that there are hundreds of similar international opportunities, available and waiting for those aged 18 – 30 to apply.
This remarkable world of international opportunities was first introduced to me through Volunteer Police Cadets. At the time I was on a gap year (in which I spent the majority working unholy hours in Wetherspoons) before going to university to study chemistry. With time on my hands, I jumped at the chance to participate in a 2-week project in Georgia, and then again, a few long months later, but this time in Bulgaria.
The days in Bulgaria were spent learning how to campaign in order to raise awareness of human trafficking, whilst the evenings were spent socializing! One of my favourite memories was when we went out into Bankya and interviewed the local public, there was also a bear-like dog who followed us around and rejected me twice. Not bitter. On reflection, this project was the seed to me recognizing my own interests in social issues and media.
In the spirit of Kanye West’s “find your tribe” tweet, I joined EuroPeers UK; a youth-led network that is made up of people who are equally passionate about international experiences and promoting them. I was and remain, hooked. Meanwhile, I was a good way into the first year of a chemistry degree, but it wasn’t feeling right for me…
There was no bolt of lightning, but these international projects allowed me to learn in a way that I had not been exposed to in school. My 18-year-old self who embraced that first trip to Georgia would have never have imagined that these experiences would go on to spark my interest in documentary and that the incredible people I met along the way would make it feel possible to pursue it. Hence, I did a 180-degree turn and dropped out of chemistry to instead do a film degree – which I recently completed!
Here I find myself again, about to take a step, or rather, a three-hour flight, out of my comfort zone, as my EVS in Hungary is on the very near horizon. I am not without nerves (it’s not every day you move to a new country!), but, I’m mainly excited to see where it takes me! And, I would encourage all those that are curious, about the world and about people, to begin their own international journey. See where it takes you!