Volunteering in Europe – A Great Way to Spend a Little Longer

I’ve seen it time and again, people visit a place and are completely taken in and all they want is to stay a little longer. Getting a work permit seems like a bit of a headache, the application process might just take too long and they just can’t face the mountain of paperwork.Slowly but surely they run out of money and have to return home. But back at home their longing keeps on growing and they start seeking ways to return to the place that captured their heart. While some of them eventually give in to the realities of daily life at home, others start saving to venture off once more. Except it may take a long time to gather sufficient cash for traveling. Others still suddenly discover that there is another way, a way to spend a long time in a place without needing much money – they stumble upon the volunteering option. On making this discovery, the frantic search begins and soon they realize that there are lots of organizations looking for long-term volunteers in all sorts of areas of work. From partaking in the running of sports tournaments, to helping homeless people and all the way to working with kids with special needs, the array of options is amazing.

Volunteering in Europe is a great way to spend a little longer, to even settle down for a few weeks or months and this is why:

  • Savoring a New Culture & Way of Life: When volunteering in a different country, you become part of the community and experience the life locals lead. Soon, you will be familiar with the way of life, know lots of people and become an expert in all aspects of life there. This is full-immersion and if you are also learning a new language, your horizon will be broadened even further.
  • Getting to Know Lots of New People: Volunteering is a great way to meet people and make lifelong friends and everyone that has done it only has the best of stories to tell. Volunteering can be life-changing and is certainly one undertaking that will broaden your mind and give you a deeper understanding of people and the world.
  • The Feel Good Factor: Not that you need to be some sort of a saint to volunteer, most people volunteer abroad, primarily to be able to live and work abroad without spending a fortune, however, there is a feel good factor. For starters, many organizations heavily rely on volunteers and could not operate without them and secondly, when working for and with others, you do do some good and that will build your confidence and self-esteem.
  • Your Time Off: Even if you are a full-time volunteer, you will have some time to travel and explore, party and shop and enjoy life at your favorite destination.

Your Options

A simple online search will guide you to relevant websites, the European Union as well as individual countries have websites showing lists of organization looking for volunteers. You will also find out, how to apply, what requirements there are and what criteria you must meet. There are lots of options from volunteer stints of just a few weeks, to year-long volunteering programs. In most cases, you will be provided with food and accommodation in return for your work and in some cases, organizations may pay you pocket money and even contribute to the price of your plane ticket to get there in the first place. Each organization is different, so make sure to find out as much information as you can before applying.

The Paperwork

The following website will give you a brief insight into the criteria and requirements to meet for volunteer work in Europe:

ec.europa.eu/immigration

Make sure to check it out and ensure that you qualify. Essentially, these are the basic requirements you must fulfill:

  • Be of the age as set out by the country and organization of your choice
  • Show in writing that you have an agreement with an organization and that you will be able work as a volunteer for them, clearly indicating the time frame. Often, the organization is requested to take some responsibility for your health and safety.
  • You must provide financial information, sometimes even proof of your own funds, along with details from the organization indicating how they will provide for you.

If you have fallen in love with a place, long to spend some more time there, enjoy teamwork and meeting people, volunteering is a great way to do just that.

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