My experience doing the Learn to Travel, Travel to Learn program was one of the greatest and most successful time in my life. I will comment on the different periods of the program I participated in, and the experiences I had during that time.
At the end of August in 2018, I arrived at the school of One World Institute. First days of Intro-week were very intense. We met all the new people from LTTL and FWP, the teachers and staff. In such a short time, we did quite a lot. All the activities created for Intro week were a great way to get to know the people and the following months. It was very useful – we had presentations about Clothes Collection, the school, Humana People to People, last team’s experience and sharing stories with other travelers. We also renovated a “coffee room” as our first teamwork challenge. It turned out to be a lovely place that people use more from now on. I got so inspired and excited to start my Pre-course and the upcoming months.
For the following 6 months, I was working in Clothes Collection, driving a van, collecting clothes that people donated. In the beginning, I was working in Oslo. The first weeks I was driving with more experienced drivers to learn how to do the job, the routes and get more driving experience. Jan.P is a great boss, very comprehensive and helpful with everything. At first, it took us a long time to finish the workdays, due to the lack of experience, but once we got used to it, we enjoyed driving and collecting.
I think Pre-course is an important period, where you learn a lot: how to develop new skills for the new job, live in another country, manage your time, create relations, discover surroundings and to administrate money smarter.
For two weeks, I worked in a cafe-restaurant since we needed to work a little more to get our team’s budget together. That time also taught me new skills and I enjoyed this time with my teammates, meanwhile getting ready for the study period. In the end, I have to admit – Pre-course was the most intense, yet I learnt so much about myself, work, people, time, Norway and what I want to do once I finish the program.
We started the Study-period in the middle of March. In that period, we decided where we will be going for volunteering, which also determined the travelling part. Since volunteering will take place in Ecuador, we decided to start in Colombia and go from there to our projects. For the following teams, I recommend selecting the plane tickets in advance (which is one of the highest costs from the budget) so you have a better idea of the time and travel plan you can make.
After the first week of the study period, we took some days for “holidays” to meet with our families. My parents came to visit me at school, and I went to visit my brother in Amsterdam. Spending some time with loved ones, outside the school and sharing with them my new life was exciting.
In April we started at full speed with the studies about culture, environment, social issues, the political and geographical situation of South America, focusing on the countries we will be travelling to later. Guillermo, our teacher, was giving us lectures in the mornings and assigned us different topics to research about, after which we presented our findings to the rest of the team. This way of learning-teaching is very interactive and lets everyone share the knowledge, making studying richer and varied. Additionally, everyone chose an investigation topic, something they were interested in, to learn more during the travelling period. That helped to get focused and find useful projects to help to inspire people.
LTTL – busy days
During these 6 weeks in school, life was busy. Starting with yoga, morning assembly, general cleaning, cooking and dishwashing, classes and presentations, sports, Spanish lessons, movies and evening programs.
My teammate Miriam and I prepared Spanish lessons to teach the others for the upcoming experience. We taught them the basics, but we made it fun with songs, dancing, games and interactive activities so they’d remember it later. During this time, we kept ourselves entertained, practicing cross country skiing, swimming, walking with Tau (a dog in the school).
Our study period was short, only 6 weeks, so we had to squeeze a lot in that time. For the investigation, during the study period, we went to the west coast of Norway. We wanted to learn about the environment and the people’s perception of it by surveying 100 people. It was intriguing to collect that data and present it to the school, to analyze the results and make our conclusions.
The previous team of LTTL, who just came back from South America, gave us advice about places to visit, packing, useful tips and recommendations. It is always better to have a bit of guidance. Therefore it’s easier to make up a picture of the future’s trip.
Travel and Volunteering Period
We started in Bogotá, Colombia, all together for 3 days. After that, we split into two groups of 4 people and travelled for the next 3 weeks through the country. We kept contact all the time to know how’s everybody doing, sharing advice and plans for later. We all got together again in Quito before continuing to the volunteer period. There we split into two teams: one side went to Quizapincha in the mountains and other to Yantzaza in the south of Ecuador.
We agreed with Humana to start volunteering on the 10th of June for a month. I stayed with Kate, Andrew and Raluca in Yantzaza. The first days we worked with them in “Farmers Club” checking local families who are growing tilapia fish, pigs, chicken. Afterwards, we had an idea to help the people there and make our time useful. We wanted to teach kids from different schools about recycling. My teammates and I went to talk with the principals of the local school and high school to let us do a workshop with the students. We wrote a permission paper to the Ministry of Education, which they accepted very fast. They let us do workshops in the last two weeks of school time.
We prepared a presentation and activities to students of 6th, 7th and 10th grade. We also went to a Shuar school with kids of all ages, and even to a local elderly home. It was very fulfilling to do the talks, games, meet with the kids, played and learned from each other. By the end of the two weeks, we organized a common cleaning up in the park. All the people we had met came there to help. We spent 2 hours cleaning up garbage and playing games with the kids. We gave them a reusable clothes bag as a gift for their support. It was a fantastic day!
Short, but intense one month
It was enriching to help this community. People were so lovely, helpful and willing to make a change in their city. Volunteering for a month, although short, was intense, with so much to do, new plans every day, places to visit and exciting projects to fulfill. It was my favorite time. After that, we still had six weeks left to travel in Peru. Depending on what we wanted to see, we were in different groups.
We met all together with the team for a weekend in Huaraz to hike. It was nice to meet and share experiences. I also spent ten days volunteering in Huacachina alone, although the rest came to visit me. The last days in Peru, I did a five-day route to Machu Picchu with Anna, Miriam and a friend. It was a fantastic way to say goodbye to the traveling time.
During these 3 months, I had some health problems, but I always went to the hospital with insurance, and it was solved quickly. I managed the money with no problem for the first two months. Even saved some during the volunteer, as accommodation was provided. Peru was slightly more expensive because it is more touristic and once you are there it’s better to spend it on experiences. It’s good to have some savings to do certain activities. It’s also useful to use Workaway as a way to save even more money.
The last two weeks of August was our “Bring in to the Public” period. The time where we will make a presentation to the next teams and everyone that are in the school. Almost 50 people were there for our presentation. We talked about our investigation topics, travelling, experiences and volunteering. Also had one last road trip with the team. To enjoy Norway’s nature a little more and hike together as a goodbye.
I’m very thankful for our teacher Guillermo Villalobos for everything he has taught us and for all the support. He is an excellent mentor and a friend to count on, helpful in different situations and always happy to do anything. In the end, the atmosphere with my teammates was incredible. We learned so much, helped each other always, taught each other about our own cultures and grew as a person.