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European Voluntary Service

Young wannabe travelers usually face one of life greatest ironies, or the most unwelcome manifestation of Murphy’s Law: When you are young you have time and no money and when you get older you have money but no time.

As someone who grudgingly left the first category to enter the second, I feel the urge to shout back at the lucky penniless ones to stop complaining, because time is more important than money when it comes to conquering the world.

I know that there are young ambitious Kerouaks out there who sleep dribbling on the map on their pillows and whose never-used backpack collects dust under the bed. They watch the travel programmes on TV mumbling curses to the presenters and count the coins in their pocket that can barely take them to the airport. I know it because I’ve been one.

There is good news however and it’s about time you found out.

Visiting a country and taking photos of the postcard attractions is an experience that is easy to do if you can save some money and easy to forget. Imagine, however, staying there and becoming part of the local culture. Imagine the possibility to see a country for what it is-the good and the bad- and to take part in a group effort to make it a better place. Sounds cheesy? Try it first.

There are now opportunities for cheap travel that is more than just tourism. NGOs, the European Union and other Bodies, organize exchanges that vary according to someone’s age, availability and interests. They all involve voluntary work.

One of these programmes that sounds too good to be true is the European Voluntary Service, part of the Youth In Action programme from the European Commission. It is open to people from 18 to 30 years old and is administrated in the UK by the British Council.

The aim of this programme that started as a pilot in 1996, is not only to help local communities, but to offer a true learning experience to young people. There is something for everyone no matter their interests, as a quick look at the Database of Accredited Organizations can tell.

According to the British Council, in 2007, 164 young British went abroad for the EVS and 381 foreign people were hosted in the UK. In general, placements last 6 or 12 months, but there are projects that last from 2 weeks.

There are no fees involved, while food, accommodation, insurance, linguistic support and an allowance is provided. So money won’t be an excuse from now on!

The other advantages are hard to summarize and depend on your initiative. Learning a new language, making friends from around the world, taking part in a project that matters and having a great work experience to add to your CV is just some of them.

Are you already packing, or dismissing it? Take a deep breath. Before getting excited or suspicious learn more. Talk to the organizations involved, read the information on the website and see what previous or current volunteers say.

Or you can ignore this and go back to daydreaming about the world out there, wasting your precious time away… Remember though, there are people who decide to get up and do it. Which one will you be?

Author: Dimitra Rizou

Extra Information here.


October 23, 2008 - Posted by | Dimitra - Travel | , , ,


  1. […] my last post I presented the EVS programme as an alternative way of travelling. But I am familiar with two types […]

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  2. […] a lot of time compromising until the next best thing comes. The two programmes I spoke about,  EVS and the AIESEC exchange may be great, but they do require a commitment for […]

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