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A new adventure

Hello my name is María Laura Calderón, I am 24 years old and I am starting a new adventure in Berlin, Germany by volunteering in "The colorful kids of the world", which is a bilingual kindergarten (German and Spanish) where I will share with many children, I will teach them and I will also learn from them. I would like to share a little bit of my experience in the process, and I will also talk about before, during and after my trip to Germany.

First of all I would like to thank my organization Visioneers for the opportunity they have given me, for trusting and believing in me. Due to Covid-19, the process has been a little slow but very enriching in all aspects, since they have helped me learning the language and have given me insights about the experiences of other volunteers in Berlin. I started the process in September 2020 and today May 2021, I am already in Germany and about to start my volunteering.

Personally, I have always wanted to volunteer in another country, but I honestly did not think of going so far away, much less to a place with a language so different from mine, which has become a challenge from the beginning. However, I have accepted the challenge and I have proposed to give the best of me. The language in particular I knew that it was going to be a challenge for me, so from the beginning I started to study it, little by little I have been learning and I know that I still have a lot to learn.

I consider that the process for volunteering is a stage of constancy, perseverance and positivism, the word "learning" is what you will do the most in this process and that means gain for your life.

From the moment they found a place for me to volunteer everything happened very fast - regarding my trip to Berlin, the directors of the kindergarten accepted me, so I ran to make my appointment at the German embassy in Costa Rica (since in this place the appointments are a little scarce, at this point you have to be very fast) I gathered all the documents together with Visioneers Berlin, and took them to the embassy to apply for my visa, that same day they told me that the visa was accepted and that I could return the next day to pick it up.

At that moment I felt many emotions together, fear, joy, nervousness as my departure was getting closer, I knew I was going to leave my family and friends for a year but I also knew that the time to live a new experience was approaching. I returned the next day to the embassy and they already had my visa ready, that same day they bought my flight to Germany, and I was traveling in four days, only four days!!!!. I had to pack my suitcase, say goodbye to my friends and family, collect entry requirements, among other things, those four days were a lot of pressure and excitement.

To enter Germany I could do two tests, the Covid PCR test or the Antigen test, be careful here! The PCR test can be done 72 hours before arrival in Germany and the antigen test can be done 48 hours before, I did the antigen test, which is a little cheaper than the PCR. For my trip, I also took a copy of my passport and visa, as well as my volunteer contract and emergency phone numbers written down in a notebook. Moreover, essentials, such as pills for any headaches you may get, another item of clothing, a book or headphones, something to eat and of course a mask, alcohol gel and disinfectant wipes.

Being at the airport the emotions were even more intense, you probably might even hesitate at some point to make the trip, but that's normal, you have to be confident and positive about the experience that awaits you. During the flight I was thinking about all that was waiting for me to learn and I was really anxious to get there.

The next day I first landed in Spain, I did not have to wait long for the next flight so it was not so tedious, besides in this airport everything is labeled so you will not get lost, if in any case you do not find your next gate you can ask a security person. This stop is very important, whether you do it in Spain, Switzerland or any other country, because this is where you are asked for your documents and the reason why you are visiting Berlin, you should always have everything at hand and answer calmly.

Arriving in Berlin, I only picked up my suitcase and was received by another volunteer, who took me to the place that would probably be my home for the next few months. In this home I was received by a Mrs. "Nana" and her pet "Lilly", everything is very cozy and nice. I was very tired from the trip, so I started to get ready to sleep.

Honestly the first night in Berlin was one of the days that will remain in my memory forever, I felt very strange and I already missed my country and the people I love most in the world. Arriving in Germany you must be in quarantine for 10 days, but you can interrupt it by taking a Covid test after 5 days, so the first days I was totally isolated, with a lot of anxiety and uncertainty about what I would live in the coming months. During these days I took the opportunity to study, watch my favorite series, read, listen to music and talk to my family and friends.

Now, tomorrow my mission in Berlin will officially begin. This was a little bit of my experience, we can all have different experiences, but maybe you can identify with mine, I sincerely hope to learn a lot and positively impact many people in this place. Best of luck with your process, and may you have a trip to Germany.


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