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“Traveling alone is always a big step and teaches you important life lessons.”

UBELONG

UBELONG Snapshot
Name: Rosa Eick
Age: 19
Hometown: Fruecht, Rheinland Pfalz
Nationality: Germany
Languages spoken: German, English (fluent), Spanish (intermediate) and French (beginner)
High school: Marion Dönhoff Gymnasium
Past travel experience: Moderate
Volunteer Abroad: Assisting at a Day-Care Center in Quito, Ecuador, Forest Conservation and Sustainable Farming in Galapagos, Ecuador and Forest Conservation in Amazon, Ecuador
Duration: 26 weeks
Start month: August, 2015
Claim to fame: When Rosa was fourteen, she went to America for a year and lived with a host family.

Why did you decide to become an UBELONG Volunteer?
After my graduation, I wanted to take off some time for traveling. But I was always interested in getting to know other cultures and languages, so just stopping by in different countries for several weeks didn’t make too much sense for me. Volunteering offers the opportunity to really get in touch with new people, to help them and do something good. So it does a lot for you, and you get the chance to give something back.

What were your major challenges?
Definitely the first day at work. Not knowing any Spanish made it hard for me to understand, when the people at the daycare tried to explain how everything worked. For the first month or so, the language barrier was an issue, but after not giving up and putting a lot of effort into it, my Spanish got better and better and I was finally able to communicate – which was one of my biggest achievements!

What were your favorite memories?
Since I worked in several projects, which were all really interesting, it’s hard to choose one favorite moment.
On the Galapagos islands and in the Amazon, it was amazing to lay back after a hard day of physical labor, looking at all the work I did. Since we often had to clean off certain areas, you could already see a huge difference after a couple of hours. That always was really satisfying.
While working with children, it was all about the little things which I will never forget. For example a little girl running towards me every morning and screaming: ” TEEEAAAACHER “, with a huge smile on her face. Or my last day in school, when I wanted to say goodbye and 50 kids started running towards me to give me a hug; none would let go of me, so I almost tripped and fell.

What did you take from your experience?
Not only did I learn a lot about Ecuadorian culture and their language, I also met AMAZING people. Working with locals was always a lot of fun, and I had the luck to meet wonderful volunteers from all over the world.
Traveling alone (although I never really felt alone) is always a big step and teaches you important life lessons.
It taught me to be open-minded and not to give up, when things don’t work out the way you planned. Also I learned to appreciate everything I have and that especially challenging experiences bring you further in life if you manage to master them.

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Related post:
Meet Maria Abad, a Broward College undergrad volunteered with UBELONG in the Galapagos, Ecuador on the Forest Conservation and Sustainable Farming project.

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