7 things I learned while volunteering abroad

After publishing Wednesday’s guest post , I felt inspired. I’m about to do another project, my flight actually leaves today, so it’s time to review the lessons I learned last time I volunteered. Hopefully I won’t do all my mistakes twice.

1. Volunteering equals working. I worked every day for two months. Hard, manual labor. Losing weight wasn’t part of my expectations, but it was a reality after only a week. This time I’m in better shape and hopefully won’t feel so sore the first days.

An enclosure doesn’t look this good without someone having cleaned it. 

2. Just because I signed up to work, doesn’t mean everyone else did too. Some are there because it will look good at a future application, or make for a good story. Ignore their complaints. Shake it off.

Or take a walk with a cheetah.

3. The true meaning of “African time”. “Soon” doesn’t mean the same in every language. It could be 10 minutes or it could be hours. If I respect their meaning, they will come to respect mine.

Time will pass; relax.

4. Abnormal can rapidly become normal. I worked with cheetahs and other wild animals; the first days my heart was on constant overdrive. After a while though, it was “just” cheetahs.

Their fur was softer than I ever could have imagined

5. “Luxuries” can include juice. Especially when water and food supply is running low. Missing material stuff is normal in the beginning, it will pass.


6. The place I am visiting is also learning from me. As a visitor I first made the mistake of thinking that I was the student, while in reality it is a two-way street. I brought my Norwegian culture to Namibia, and took some of the African ways with me home.

Everyone loves to dance. They taught us, and we taught them.

7. Small changes do make a difference. I dug waterholes and fixed fences; stuff anyone could do. However, I was the one that was there, and that waterhole has made a difference to the animals in the area.


36 thoughts on “7 things I learned while volunteering abroad

    1. Thank you! Feel really excited now; waiting to board the first plane! Walking and interacting with cheetahs was really surreal at first. Totally awesome though 😀 I am looking forward to sharing it with you too!

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Yeah, I know!!! There are cheaper ways to volunteer too (like volunteering as a nurse or something health related, then you don’t have to pay much with the right organizations), and of course if you stay for a shorter period of time it will be less expensive:)

          Think of it as a once in a lifetime experience! It’s worth it;)

          Liked by 1 person

        1. You just tell him it’s a game – an adventure game. First level is to book a flight. Second is to get on it. Third is to ask for directions in a new country. And so on! Level ten can be to escape a dangerous situation or something;) No matter what personality you have, or think you have, traveling, and specifically volunteering, is a great, great adventure! If you really want to do it, you should – with or without the people closest to you. They’ll understand (hopefully)! 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

    1. Welcome to Green Lights Ahead! I’m glad you like what you’re reading! Volunteering is one of my passions, it’s nice to know that others have strong feelings regarding it too:) Hope to see your name more in the future!

      Liked by 1 person

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