Mario about his EVS experience in Bulgaria

The European Voluntary Service (EVS) has made a big change in my life. For instance, before my EVS experience, I wasn’t particularly interested in living abroad, discovering new places and new cultures. At that moment, I had barely traveled or lived in a country other than Spain.

I decided to join EVS when I finished my degree in psychology, and I wasn’t sure about what I wanted my next step to be.

With this in mind, I pointed my finger on a map and, by chance, I ended up doing a 10 months EVS in Blagöevgrad, Bulgaria.

Immediately upon arriving, I moved in with 6 people to a flat that quickly became a home. 

What did I do during my EVS?

We were working with an NGO called Alternativi International. Our work was focused on the Erasmus + program and its opportunities, thus we worked on organizing events for local people in schools and universities and also helped with social media promotion.

In addition to that, we worked on different projects: we collaborated with a local church cooking for people in need, we participated in different youth exchanges and training courses, for the spring season we made a charity market of “martinitza” to help a local school, etc.

Something I really appreciated during my EVS was the freedom the NGO gave to us to find in which way we could best contribute to their work.

Because of this, I learned how to edit videos and I had my first experiences as a trainer (leading workshops and activities during different events), which has been helpful in my personal and professional life since.

What was the impact of my EVS experience?

On a personal level, I would say that because of this experience I found how much I love to work and live in different countries. Before starting this project, I intended to start a Master’s in my  hometown right after graduating. Instead, I lived for almost a year in Bulgaria and I am currently living in Brussels, where I came to work and am now studying.

I lived incredible experiences and met fantastic people that I keep in contact with and ,if this pandemic ever ends… I have plans to visit. During that year, I hitchhiked around Bulgaria and the rest of the countries in the Balkans, I met hundreds of volunteers of over 30 different nationalities, I made friendships that last even today. One of the most memorable experiences I have in my mind is the first time I hitchhiked. That was something new for me and I ended up going from Blagöevgrad to Skopje and back in the same weekend. I traveled with three more volunteers and, despite the cold and the stress of the first time, I remember it as one of the best trips I did.

Finally, on a professional level, this experience has been very useful in terms of soft skills. For instance, the fact that I had the opportunity to lead workshops in english with over 30 participants has given me the confidence and the resources to deal with any kind of situation whenever I am working with groups

In addition to that, I learned how to edit videos, work with cameras, design graphics, etc. And very importantly, my English has improved to the point that I am currently able  to work and study in a foreign country.

In conclusion, My EVS has been a wonderful experience that will be with me the rest of my life. Bulgaria will always have a place in my heart and so the people from Alternatiivi. I strongly recommend you to consider this life-changing opportunity.

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