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01 June 2016

EVS - A life-changing experience

Today we celebrate Children`s Day! Happy birthday to all of you! And for this special day, we have prepared a special article for you in collaboration with Alexandra, that we hope you will find inspiring as we do!

We`ll talk about EVS programme and how you can spend an amazing period of time abroad together with other internationals and have a life-changing experience!

Through EVS programme( European Voluntary Service) young people among Europe have the chance to make a difference in a community through full-time voluntary work in a foreign country within or outside the EU.

EVS promotes values such as social inclusion, tolerance, solidarity and unity. Active citizenship is also extremely important in this context, as people should have the initiative to get involved and influence other people in a positive way.

For all the work they do, international volunteers receive free board, lodging, insurance cover and a sum of money for the entire duration of the project. In some particular cases, volunteers may be asked to cover a part of their transportation costs.

For an EVS project three key members are included: the sending organisation, the receiving organisation and the volunteer.
Usually, the receiving organisation is the coordinator of the programme and is also the one that applies for an EU grant for the programme.
Organisations are the ones responsible for identifing and selecting volunteers, develop projects that can bring a change in the local community, prepare and help volunteers during the project  and ensure the follow-up phase.

Something you definitely have to take into consideration is the Online Linguistic Support EVS volunteers receive. This programme is available for German, English, Spanish, French, Italian and Dutch, main languages for more than 90% of all Erasmus+ mobilities.
Don`t worry if the main mobility language is not included in the OLS! Special grants are available for that as well!

You are eligible to access this programme if you are aged 17-30 years and you are willing to spend 2-12 months abroad. You can either choose a short-term EVS or a long-term one, depending on your prefferences.

EVS programmes are for anyone who wants to improve their skills, to grow and to change his or hers perspective! EVS is a truly life-changing experience, reason why we encourage you to take advantage of this amazing opportunity Erasmus+ offers!

But for you to better understand what is this experience about, we have asked our very good friend, Alexandra, who is an EVS volunteer in the UK at the time to share with us her story.
Curious about what she has answered? Right here you can read the interview!


1. Tell me some things about you. (how old are you, where are you from, studies, hobbies)

My name is Alexandra (you can call me Ale) and I have just turned 25 years old. I am from Bucharest, Romania where I also studied and graduated my Masters Degree in Marketing Management last year. I love photography and I have a passion for different cultures and foreign languages. I like to travel, meet new people and learn continuously. 

2. How did you find out about EVS?

Two years ago I have discovered the Erasmus+ programme and I started to participate in Training Courses and Youth Exchanges across Europe. I have made many new friends and met many other young people with rich international experiences. I heard in many of their stories about this programme through which they lived abroad for a long period of time and it was exactly what I also wanted to do.

3. Have you ever volunteered before? If yes, can you give me some details about your activities?

I started to volunteer since high-school and I have become very passionate about it. When I started the university I was volunteering in AIESEC - a global platform for young people meant to explore and develop their leadership potential. Then I started to volunteer in GEYC - a Romanian Youth organisation - as Marketing and Communications responsible and assistant trainer. Now I am an international volunteer in the UK. 

4. What motivated you to take part in such programme?

I was really inspired by the stories of other young people who have already volunteered abroad through EVS. Also I had a strong desire to go and live abroad for a longer period of time, to improve one of the foreign languages that I speak or learn a new one, to experience working in a new environment and just to get out of my comfort zone.

5. Which were the reasons that made you choose this specific EVS programme?

This EVS project gave me the opportunity to volunteer in Marketing and Communications, my field of studies and expertise. So it was a great chance for me to improve my skills and knowledge. 

6. How is it like, being an EVS volunteer? What dificulties did you encounter? 

Until now, being an EVS volunteer was just AMAZING. My experience is a great one. Of course it is not perfect, but really, like everything in life, it depends on us to emphasize the positive parts of the experience.

7. What can a person learn from an EVS? Why should someone participate?

I think that EVS is a great opportunity for young people to develop themselves and become more open minded, to live abroad, to travel, to get out of their comfort zone, to meet amazing people, make new friends, learn, to discover themselves, have fun, bring a positive change in the community, be open towards other cultures and become more aware about the world's problems. It is also a chance to gain professional experience that will help you find a job afterwards or to try something new/discover what you are passionate about. It is a safe place to explore, fail,try again,learn. I think that every young person should do it, either on short term or long term, it is definitely worth it.

8. How did you think the EVS might be, before leaving home, and how was it actually like when you arrived there?

I was very excited about moving to England for 12 months, that's for sure. I was also nervous about being in a different country by myself, living away from my family for the first time and joining an international team. I was lucky to receive all the support from my hosting organisation, OpportUNITY - they welcomed me, supported and helped me from the first day to accommodate and integrate myself in the new community. Before starting my EVS I was afraid of not learning much from the experience, but it is definitely not the case. I found the same support from the organisation in doing my tasks as well. They are really encouraging us (the volunteers) to have initiative, be creative and dream big. They are providing us with a great learning environment, constructive feedback and the frame to put in practice our ideas and knowledge.

9. Which is the most beautiful memory from your EVS so far? What about a funny one?

The best part of my EVS are the people I have met. I have built beautiful friendships that I know will last for a lifetime. All the beautiful memories that I have are moments spent with them - with the other volunteers and people with whom I work or I live. A funny memory would be how at the beginning of my EVS, when another volunteer from Italy and I were speaking and if English was becoming to difficult we were adding Romanian, Italian and sign language at the same time and this is how we understood each other perfectly.

10. Do you think that this programme might be useful for your personal and professional future?

This programme definitely helped me grow, discover myself, develop personally and build a better perspective of my professional objectives. 

11. Could you please give an advice to all young people that may be interested in EVS, but still don`t have the courage to participate?

Just do it. The perfect moment is right now. 

You can discover her travelling stories on her blog.
For romanian readers,we invite you to read more about Alexandra`s EVS here.

So is the waiting worth it? Start joining Facebook groups where you can find calls for EVS programmes and apply!

Good luck and remember that youth is a state of mind!