Eurodesk Alumni Stories: Isabel Garland

Over the last few years, I’ve studied and volunteered abroad in Spain, France, and Portugal.

I spent one year in Seville on the Erasmus+ programme, studying in Spanish, which was challenging at first but after a few months, it became a lot easier. When I finished university, I spent a few months volunteering on organic farms in France and since then, I’ve come to Portugal with the European Solidarity Corps project. This project, ‘People and Planet’ has brought me to a city called Santa Maria de Feira in the north of Portugal, where I’ll be based until June, but I hope to stay in Portugal or somewhere else in Europe over the next few years.

These experiences have given me opportunities to meet new people and experience different cultures – they have helped me to learn a lot about myself, to become more independent and self-reliant. I feel more prepared to deal with new and unpredictable situations and have also improved my ability to communicate – while studying and volunteering abroad, it’s so important to communicate clearly to those around you when you need help with something or when something isn’t working well.

Volunteering or travelling abroad is something I would recommend to anyone, no matter what their situation. It’s a great way to broaden your perspective and interact with new people. You definitely become a lot more self-aware when you spend time working or studying abroad, it’s useful for anyone and with services like Eurodesk providing advice and connections to local support networks, it opens up so many more opportunities.

Isabel Garland, 24, County Dublin.

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