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Adam, 20, Ireland

My 2 month European Solidarity Corps with Merseyside Expanding Horizons (MEH).

My 2 month European Solidarity Corps with Merseyside Expanding Horizons (MEH).

I moved to Liverpool from Ireland at the beginning of October for a two month European Solidarity Corps with Merseyside Expanding Horizons (MEH). This was my first ever time living abroad and volunteering full time, so going into this experience, I didn't know what to expect and I was nervous.

Voluntary Service International (VI) was my sending organisation and they helped me plan what I needed to bring and worked with MEH to make sure I felt comfortable going. When I arrived in Liverpool I went straight to the MEH Big Onion office. It was a great introduction to the organisation as I got to see the great work they do for social enterprises in the Bootle community, I got to meet the new businesses in the Traders Arcade and I met my colleagues who were working with Job seekers.

For the first weekend I got to explore Liverpool City and I loved it. I immediately felt it was a friendly city with so much history. I enjoyed all the restaurants and bars it had to offer. I also visited the brilliant library and museums in the city. My favourite area was around the docks. I loved beautiful World Heritage buildings, especially the Liver Building.

My first week at MEH was a little daunting as there were a lot of new terms and practices I had to learn and understand. My first task was to familiarise myself with our ongoing Erasmus+ projects by reading the project applications which were extremely long and monotonous. I then got underway with organising and facilitating focus groups for some of our projects. At first I found it difficult to find people for these events but then I learned how to best reach out to people.

Back in Liverpool, I enjoyed cultural nights with my colleagues and fellow volunteers, I had some amazing food and went to the cities attractions such as their light trail. I enjoyed working in the office with the team as the environment was relaxed and fun. I also felt like the work we were doing was impactful and important to the community. One of my highlights of the volunteering was attending a barista training that MEH was organising. I learned lots about coffee roasting and about customer experience. I got to practice making great coffee and as someone who has never liked coffee. I unexpectedly enjoyed the final product. During the volunteering, the other volunteers and I had planned a trip to Montenegro as my colleague Anja was from there. It was an amazing travel experience to one of the most beautiful countries in Europe. I got to experience more great food and culture and learn more about the Balkans.

Overall this short volunteering experience had a profound impact on me and I learned more about myself and about other cultures. I really enjoyed working with those in MEH and I hope to have more experiences like this in the future.

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