The 10 worst things about volunteering

Volunteering overseas or spending some time for your studies abroad can be a daunting experience. Before you decide to go, take these 10 aspects in mind as they might keep you away from a new life experience!

  1. The long travel; why would you go across the world for this? Who came up with this idea anyways; to spend 48 hours on flights and transit to go to the other side of the world? I wonder what they have in Africa I cannot find in my own neighbourhood. Why would I take the effort to travel for so long to see this new continent and country? I can go somewhere else a lot cheaper and not so far from home.
  2. Strange food; I know what I like and I am not willing to try new things. Most of those things are horrible anyways so I only eat what I know like I am used to at home. I am sure they don’t have any normal stuff to eat anyways.
  3. Even stranger habits; why are all these people hugging each other all the time and smiling so much, it’s quite annoying. And these funny handshakes they all use, what’s up with that? I feel much more comfortable with habits I know and I find other strange habits and cultural believes not very interesting.
  4. Meeting all these new people, why would I? I have plenty of friends and I am not interested in making new friends from different walks of life, backgrounds and cultures.
  5. Sharing my accommodation with different nationalities, what a hassle. I get confused from all these different people from all over the world and we have to share rooms and bathrooms, cook or help cooking and clean up my own stuff. I never worry about these things at home so I am not going to start there.
  6. Having to speak English all the time, why don’t people just speak my language? I speak English, but not great as it is my second language and I really not that great at it. I am too shy to try and improve my English conversational skills and I rather speak my own mother tongue.
  7. Paying to have this primitive experience, what nonsense. They should pay me for my services. I will work for free and still have to pay, no, I expect the non-profit organization to pay for my accommodation, transport, meals and 24/7 support and if they don’t have money for that I do not see why I should be volunteering there and why they need my help.
  8. Going to work every day at some project; why would I want to wake up early every day to drive to some township and teach some kids how to play soccer, help them with school work, make food parcels and help needy people? You get all sweaty and dirty and all these kids want to hug and climb on you, not my cup of tea.
  9. Planning exhausting travel after or before my volunteering. My idea of holidaying is a lounge chair next to a pool with an all-inclusive bracelet on my wrist and a cultural dance performance at the pool bar tonight. I really don’t see the fun in traveling on some backpackers bus along these windy roads with all these mountains around me. And then all the people I have to meet and chat with everywhere I go, all the stories they tell and travel advice they give. I think I am happier with places and things I know.
  10. Seeing all these animals, we have those at our local zoo as well. I mean, I like animals and all that but in the zoo I can actually almost touch them and see them up close. All that driving in some open Landrover vehicle with all these scientific stories of some game ranger. And they don’t even guarantee or know where the lions are, I rather know what I am getting instead of all this unknown adventure in the African bush.

If you identify yourself with some of these thoughts you are only normal. It is quite a big step to step out of your comfort zone and learn to deal with all these new things and unexpected experiences.

But maybe that is actually what you want; to be challenged, to learn new things, try new foods, meet new people and widen your own horizons.

If that is the case you can forget about all these negative thoughts and know that these so called ‘negatives’ can be the real positives of your volunteering period and travels, the real highlights and memories for life because when it is all predicable and familiar you would be better off just staying at home.

See you in Africa hopefully.

Martijn

 

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