Volunteering Spain València – Aleyna
Aleyna spent four weeks in our conservation project in Spain helping to protect pristine natural areas as a volunteer. In the following feedback interview you can learn more about her time in València.
Project: Nature conservation in València/Spain
Duration: Mid-September until mid-October 2018 – 4 weeks
Support from Natucate team:
Volunteering in Spain – Feedback: Eight questions for Aleyna
1) Could you give us a short overview about your tasks during the project?
- Removing invasive plant species as well as plants from paths and water pumps
- Planting and watering endemic plant species
- Checking nets in water which are used to protect water plants
- Taking water samples from different filter systems and lakes of the park and analyzing them (ph value, cleanliness, salinity, temperature..)
- Removing weeds
- Cleaning aquaria and floors
- Cutting trees
- Maintaining information signs
These were my main tasks. Moreover, I was able to watch bird ringing and reptile marking procedures. I also took part in a boat trip around the park. We visited animal shelters and went to the Roman city of Sagunto.
2) What were your biggest challenges during the project?
In the beginning of my time as a volunteer it was still quite warm, which was not always beneficial for working. I really had to get used to talking Spanish. However, our team leaders’ English was pretty good. The mosquitoes was the only really annoying thing – there were so many of them! During my time in the project the paddy fields were harvested and I have never seen and felt so many mosquitoes before in my life. I counted 62 bites in my first week. It got better within the following weeks, though.
3) Was there anything you liked most? Or anything that left you with a negative impression?
My highlight was a trip to the animal shelter station in Albufera Nature Park. We were allowed to go and see the tortoises and were able to witness the new hatchlings.
Moreover, I was told that I was able to participate in all activities of a nearby language school – which I did. We went to the city or took part in a salsa course. On the weekends we were able to join city tours to Madrid & Co. for a reduced rate.
Our team leaders in the projects were so friendly and nice. They picked us up every day, were very understanding and always helped us with questions or problems.
4) Did you have certain expectations before you started the project?
I didn’t have a lot of expectations on purpose. The only one I had: to work together with more than just two other volunteers – that’s why I was a little disappointed when I learned that there were only me and two others, as I was looking forward to the cultural exchange with lots of other international volunteers. In Valencia, I was a bit sad to see that organizational things could have been much better. You have to be aware of the fact that a lot of the money you pay is used to finance the volunteer apartment – in comparison to that, the project itself only receives a little bit of the fee everyone pays.
5) Did you do anything during your free time that you can recommend to following participants?
The old town of Valencia is just beautiful – so please visit! You can see a lot of churches and other building for free or at least for only a small amount of money. Moreover, don’t miss Mercado Central.
The aquarium of Valencia is quite well-known in Europe and I wouldn’t want to miss my visit there, even if it was expensive. The Ciudad de las Ciencas is also worth a visit, just like the promenade. You can reach all these places via bus or metro. There are lots of festivals in Valencia which you should definitely visit! On October 9 it was Valencian Independence Day and there was a huge and beautiful (costume) parade in the city center.
6) Which recommendations would you give to other participants?
A tip that would have been useful to me: Also take enough long clothes with you, even if you volunteer during a warmer season of the year. In Valencia it often rains and when working in the natural reserve long clothes protect you from sun and mosquito bites. Don’t forget to take clothing with you that can get dirty – because it will. In case you don’t know how to cook, learn it – at least some basics ;) This way you can save quite a lot of money. It is also extremely helpful to know at least a few words in Spanish.
7) Can you guess how many additional expenses you had?
I spent around 100-150 euros per week, mainly for using public transport, food and leisure time activities.
8) Here is some space for further suggestions or stories:
If it had been possible I would have taken part in a language class in Valencia – I think that would have been pretty useful.
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