Name: Louise Helldén
Hometown: Stockholm, Sweden
Languages spoken: Swedish, English (fluent), French (intermediate), Sign Language (beginner)
Degree: Social Science and Music
Occupation: Recruiter at Swedish Red Cross
Past travel experience: Moderate
Volunteer Abroad: Helping at a Food Bank in Lisbon, Portugal
Duration: 3 weeks
Start month: January 2018
Claim to fame: Louise went to High School in Toronto, Canada for one year when she was 14 years old. Welcome to the UBELONG Family, Louise!
Why did you decide to become a UBELONG Volunteer?
I found a lot of different volunteer organisations and projects all over the world, but I chose UBELONG because I knew I would really make a difference. I was also captivated by how organized everything was – how they take care of their volunteers in the best way possible while also giving them the freedom of being independent and experiencing everything to the fullest. Not only do you contribute to a great cause – you also make friends for life and quickly become a part of the society you’re visiting.
As it relates to the UBELONG Local Team and in-country support: How was it?
Better than I ever could have wished for. Everyone went above and beyond to make me feel safe and taken care of, the kindness I got from everyone around me was heartwarming and I’m so thankful for it all.
What three pieces of advice would you give to a future UBELONG Volunteer?
- Learn as much of the language and culture as you can beforehand! Even though you will learn quickly once you’re in the field, it will really help in the beginning.
- Be open to the company of others and take advantage of get-togethers and special occasions! If there, for example, is a walking tour or hostel dinner – go! You will meet amazing people you otherwise wouldn’t have met and it will make the trip even more enjoyable!
- Be inspired by other volunteers and people at the project! You have a lot to learn from them, and ask questions if you have any! You will always benefit from your experiences back home.
In a sentence or less, what is your best packing advice?
You don’t need a lot, but bring things you can hang on hooks as you might (probably) be in a situation where you don’t have anywhere to put your stuff down, for example in the shower rooms.