Gabriel tells about his experiences
Hello, my name is Gabriel Sánchez, I am 19 years old and I would like to tell you about this new stage of my life that has just begun.
On July 4, 2021, I left my country Costa Rica towards Berlin because I succeeded in applying for a voluntary service at the "Missionscamp Oderbruch e.V.". The Missionscamp is a Christian camp that wants to introduce people to the message of Jesus' love, is open for families, children and youth, but also gives people like me the opportunity to support mission through volunteering. Knowing this, I want to tell you a little about my experience of traveling alone to another continent, about my first week and how my first contact has been with a language and a culture very different from mine; before I begin, I want to thank God and my organization Visioneers for this opportunity that will undoubtedly change my life.
After all the paperwork, many appointments at the German Embassy in Costa Rica with many documents and applications, my visa was approved on June 24, so without waiting any longer I started to prepare everything necessary for the trip. It is important to remember that due to the global situation with the COVID-19 it was necessary to present a negative test for either Antigens or PCR (of which I recommend doing an antigen test as it works the same and is much cheaper). Besides, you only need what you think you need to live in another country for a year: clothes, shoes, computer, medicines, and in my case a guitar, which of course you can't miss.
Finally it was the day of the flight and all those emotions that you have been holding in for so long are released when you see that you are on your way to the airport. In my case, I was accompanied by my immediate family, but I think one person being there to see you off would be more than enough.
Once at the airport in Costa Rica, the process is very easy: you arrive at the counter with the name of your airline and present the requested documents, in my case only my passport and the negative antigen test, after that you hand in your bags and they give you a plane ticket with the necessary indications and information for you to board the right plane at the right time. Since traveling by plane for so long (12 hours from Costa Rica to Paris, France and 2 hours from Paris, France to Berlin, Germany in my case) and walking in such big airports is far from being a comfortable experience and you can get stressed because it is your first time, not knowing the language and so on.... I recommend to dress as comfortably as possible, with comfortable shoes and especially without excess baggage - a small purse is a good option to have at hand the necessary documents such as passport and plane tickets and also to have pictures of everything in your cell phone so you don't have to look for anything in a bag. Taking these indications into account my trip was practically quick and it is important to know that all the workers are willing to help you at any time you need - remember to ask first in what language you can speak to them, you will be surprised how many people speak Spanish in Europe, but English is always the best option.
Arriving in Berlin, a Missionscamp Oderbruch staff member was waiting for me and we went directly to the camp. Due to the regulations in Germany I had to do a 5 day quarantine and to take into account the obligatory use of masks in the presence of other people, but with that in mind, my first week here has been very blessed and joyful.
When I arrived at the camp, despite the long trip I had, I still had a lot of energy and enthusiasm to get to know the place and the people I would be working with, so I started my work the same day. It is worth mentioning that everyone understands that you are new and that you are neither in your country nor speak the language perfectly, so don't worry, people will always try to make your process of getting used to the country as pleasant as possible and you will find a way to communicate and share with them.
In summary my first week in the camp has been very good, I have worked a lot and learned a lot too. Despite the culture being very different, having a different language and having a week without eating rice and beans, I think it's all a matter of being open to change and new sensations.
My advice? Enjoy everything, every meal, every conversation, every person, every screw-up... everything will be a story that you can tell and laugh about later. May God bless you and be with you on your adventure.