Volunteering in Spain
It’s always interesting to hear how different people experience Spain and when we were contacted by the Director of Go Overseas we were delighted to offer them the opportunity to include a guest post on our site about volunteering.
Jasmine Foruzani, a student in the USA, tells us all about the different programmes (including WWOOFing – a term we’d never heard before!) and how volunteers can save money in Spain.
In addition to offering a rich culture and unique history to travellers around the world, Spain provides a variety of outstanding volunteer opportunities. From environmental and marine conservation to youth development and education, potential volunteers can find an area that fits their interests. These opportunities may sound exciting, but many are turned off by the costs associated with volunteering in Spain. Not to worry, however, because there are many things volunteers can do to make Spain a viable option. Although the cost of living in Spain can run high in larger cities, there are numerous ways volunteers in the country can save money to ensure their volunteer experience is as cost-effective as possible. Volunteers can take advantage of scholarships, homestays, and work exchanges while finding ways to eat more affordably.
Scholarships are a great starting point for any volunteer looking to make the cost of their experience in Spain more reasonable. For example, volunteers may benefit from searching for scholarships within their communities where there are service organizations that may offer funding. National awards such as the Samuel Huntington Public Service Award also abound and can be a valuable resource for volunteers trying to save some cash. Finally, don’t forget to check out the scholarships that may be offered by a specific volunteer program like Connect-123, who provides volunteer opportunities in Barcelona.
Volunteers can also reduce living expenses by exploring such options as homestays. This option entails living with a local family and may include meals and even laundry facilities in the cost of room and board. Homestays also provide volunteers a prime opportunity to immerse themselves in the Spanish culture and improve their language skills. You may also look into sharing an apartment with others and saving money with cheap eating out options like menus del dia. With menus del dia, you can spend less and still get a three-course meal. Make sure you plan ahead though, because these meals are often served only during lunch and on the weekdays. Tapas are another less expensive and popular option when eating out in most parts of Spain. In fact, in some cites such as Granada, you can get free tapas with the simple order of a drink.
Maybe you’re looking for a less traditional abroad experience in Spain, so why not look into “WWOOFing?” The term may look peculiar, but WWOOF stands for Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms and is a type of work exchange in which volunteers work on a farm in exchange for accommodation and food. You don’t have to worry about pulling out extra cash from your wallet for housing and meals, and you can gain unmatched experience in sustainable farming.
In general, planning your volunteer trip early can pay off as well. Some programs such as Greenheart Travel offer early application program discounts, which can save you as much as $100. Planning ahead can also allow you more flexibility in finding cheaper flights, housing, and scholarships. Don’t let the potential costs of going abroad dissuade you because there are numerous ways to watch your wallet, and the experiences you will gain in a country like Spain will be well worth your time.
Jasmine Foruzani is currently a junior at UC Berkeley from Kenmore, Washington studying Business Administration. She interns at Go Overseas and hopes to explore new countries in the near future.