The volunteers say…


 

Volunteer Norway 6

Ximena, Chile

Hi, my name is Ximena and I come from Chile, a small and beautiful country located just before the end of the world.

When I started my travel in August 2014 I was very excited but – I confess – very nervous and scared as well.

My first experience as a volunteer in a hostel was at Montana Hostel in Bergen, Norway. I stayed there for 6 weeks, including 2 weeks in a cozy, small town called Voss also.

I cannot explain very well how amazing this experience has been. I have done so many new activities, have been connected to nature (something Norwegian people are very into), have enjoyed outdoor activities I never did before: hiking, biking, trekking – even bathing in the coolest water you can find. If this sounds just wonderful, let’s add an extra very important ingredient: meeting people from all over the world!!! It’s just something I would have never thought I would do. I feel blessed having met all these wonderful people that have made my trip even more exciting.

And last but not least: I must say that staying at Montana and Voss Hostels, even just for a little while, allowed me to get in touch with local people who opened their hearts to share their every day life experiences with me. Something I will be thankful for the rest of my life.
Now I continue with my travel, always positive, heart and mind opened to the different experiences that are waiting for me outside.

This has been a real life changing experience. Nothing will ever be the same after this.

 

 

Volunteer Norway 12

Sonia, Bolivia

WARNING: THIS MIGHT BLOW YOUR MIND. THIS MIGHT CHANGE YOUR LIFE.

When I start to remember my days as a volunteer in Bergen, Norway, I cannot stop the continuous  and  powerful  stream  of  memories  of  friendship,  peace,  nature  and  more absolutely beautiful things I found there…

It’s funny how the new wave of philosophy in the world moves around the ideas of tolerance, freedom, culture, partnership and love, but at the end of the day it’s hard to find those ideas in people’s actions. In a world that is struggling with stress, loneliness and pain I found a small utopia on the west coast of Norway, a country that for a lot of people can be as exotic and unknown as the latest island in the furthest ocean.

Hungry for new experiences and moved by the curiosity of those colorful wooden houses in the pictures from Google, I did everything to get the chance to reach Bergen and being part of that impossible dream that was described in the Volunteer Program’s Info Kit.
When I arrived there I found out that Norway was, indeed, really exotic. And I’m not talking about coconut palms and dancing tribes, I’m talking about a deep feeling of security and open ideas floating in the air. Doesn’t it sound a little bit dreamy?

I also found out that the wooden houses, the landscapes and the North Sea were, in fact, as pretty and unforgettable as in the Tripadvisor reviews. And I found out that the-hard-to-believe description of the Volunteer Program was, without a doubt, BETTER THAN EXPECTED. My heart was pumping every day strongly and faster, more so when I was hiking my first steps to Mount Ulriken or Floien, or when I sat down in the coffee bar and found out that a girl from Bolivia can have a lot of things in common with boys and girls from China, New Zealand or Germany.

The idea of a better world now is a real seed, and it has been planted in the humid dark earth of the south of Norway. With a lot of rainy days and amazing sunny days in summer it will grow higher and stronger, and with the love and efforts from the people that take care of this amazing idea it will bear fruit. I cannot be more proud of having been part of this impossible dream and I want everybody know about it by these words:

“There is a place in the north of Europe, full of tales about days without end and colorful lights in the clear night sky; they say you can hear the singing from the souls coming out of them. In that place I stayed for 40 days and 40 nights and I met a lot of good people and at the top of the mountains I also met Trolls, Fairies, Witches and baby dinosaurs! I stayed in a house full of beds for travelers looking for answers on the road. We made fires and had a lot of cookies with coffee and milk, we sang and played Jenga (how fun it can be!) and even we made hot dogs and lots of popcorn.
From my window, I see a shiny light on the top of a place called Mount Ulriken, it changes color every 15 minutes: pink, green, red, blue, orange. Yes, one day the Vikings were living there, but believe me: the people that live there now are more magical and strong and they are making this world a better place. I come back there as often as I can because it renews my faith in love and understanding.”

 

Claudia, Germany

Hi, hi – I’m Claudia from Germany, 23 years old and always up for a new adventure. That was my motivation for being a volunteer at Montana, Bergen. What could be better than entertaining people in a hostel and making their stay here even better? Sounds like a nice idea so I really wanted to take this challenge and see how it worked out.

My stay was almost 7 weeks long and I spend all of it in Bergen. But I can tell you it was an amazing time and I don’t want to miss one day there. Time was flying and
every single day was another adventure.

I’m sure you want to know what I was doing here all the time. That’s quite easy to explain: You start the day with an awesome breakfast and get some energy to do some hikes with the guests. And Bergen has a lot of hikes to offer so it doesn’t get boring at all. Every hike is particular combined with the weather input and the people who are joining you. And you will meet so many interesting characters and will experience a way of getting to know each other in such an easy way. I was surprised how much it is bonding a group together when you are going on a simple hike. And how easy it is to make people happy with just taking some tea and cookies on the hike and handing it out as a small reward to them. It’s just as simple as that! When I was reading the InfoKit before arriving in Bergen it says the free coffee and cookie time every afternoon is the most important thing in the hostel. To be honest, I was a bit confused about this fact. How can one hour of free coffee and cookies have such a big impact on people? Surprisingly it has 😀 Everyone is gathering in the living room and it’s so easy to get stuck into a conversation. One hour almost seems too short for getting in touch with everyone. But it’s a nice way to encourage the people to join your hikes the next days or just hang around in the evening.

We had so many special nights where we either sat outside around a bonfire grilling some marshmallows or listened to some guitar players jamming with each other. If you had a bigger group on your hike it is also easier to start a BBQ at night with some good music and a huge buffet. And if you are tired after a long day conquering some mountains in Bergen you can just sit outside on the platform behind the hostel and enjoy the view of Bergen. It’s breathtaking! Even after some weeks I was still amazed by it.

I can really recommend to everyone to take this experience and become part of the volunteer program. To spread some happiness and connect people from all over the world! And don’t be afraid of feeling homesick or something like that. There is no chance 😀 You will feel like home in Montana and will be integrated into the staff in such a nice way – like family! Bergen has a permanent place in my heart and I’ll be back for sure.

So you think you can do it? I’m sure you can! All you need is an open mind and an open mouth!

 

Krisztina, Hungary

I have done different volunteering projects before in Norway, but during my five months at the Hi-Hostel-Program in Bergen and Voss, I felt that I have found my place. I have not only met unbelievably kind people from around the world, but through my new local friends I managed to get to know the „non-touristic” Norway as well.

I hiked more than in my entire life. And climbing hills, hiking to a lake or biking to a waterfall became natural as the weeks passed. It was very easy to find peace and to get social as well. The helpfulness and support of people I met really touched me. I discovered every week my new favorite little path or my new favorite little house. And suddenly weather did not matter that much anymore.

I enjoyed a lot the „coffee and cookies” because that was the moment when I got to know half of the people I hiked with later on.

I am extremely grateful for all the inspiration and ideas these activities gave me. In my opinion the whole volunteering-experience changes you for the better. You learn things that no university or workplace can teach you.

And as an extra benefit, I could practice and improve all my language-skills, gather special food recipes, go to cool flea-markets and I even managed to participate on several festivals and quiz-nights.

I wish more people could participate and that more Hi-hostels would join this  program so that more tourists and volunteers can experience Norway in another way.

 

Julia, Germany

When I applied in February I had a little clue about what my being a social volunteer in Norway would look like. I knew there would be some hikes, some sightseeing and that coffee & cookie time is the most important thing of the day. So I came to Norway in the beginning of August expecting rain everyday (since Bergen is a city with officially a lot of rain). After being picked up from the airport (it was sunny by the way) the other volunteers in the hostel welcomed me with an extended coffee & cookie time. That was my first cappuccino at Bergen Hostel Montana – and the beginning of a great friendship. I moved into a room with two other German volunteers and it took us just one day until we all felt like old friends.

Claudia, Isabell and Siyu (another volunteer – from China) introduced me to the volunteering system and all the stuff concerning the hostel life. I quickly learned what coffee & cookie time means and that it is the perfect chance to get in touch with guests. That’s where plenty of other ideas arise and you put a sign up for any hike or sightseeing for the next day. Soon you know the guests and one knows another one what makes it easy to find a big group of people playing cards in the evening or going out for a bonfire.

It did not rain as much as I expected, which made the hikes and stuff like that even more beautiful. My first 2 weeks in Bergen were hilarious and they passed by so fast, Then it was time for me to go to Geilo, together with Isabell. Since we were the first volunteers in the HI hostel there we just started the program from scratch. And it worked out very well. We introduced coffee & cookies and soon catched some guests for a hike the next day. In the evening they joined us in the hostel’s jaccuzzi.
After a week I went on to Voss. Krisztina, a Hungarian volunteer, introduced me into the hikes, bike tours and the area around Voss. Same procedure as in Bergen, catching people’s attention with coffee and invite them for outdoor activities of any kind. Since the HI hostel in Voss is situated next to a beautiful lake we had the opportunity to take little boats to paddle on it. Varied ways of spending time outside and see Voss and the surroundings made my time there very special. Krisztina left me after a week so I was the only volunteer there. But that was not a problem at all, there were always great people up for a hike or something else and the hostel staff is very friendly and willing to help you.

In September I had some visitors from Germany and the chance to travel around Norway a bit. It was great, I saw a lot of beautiful places. But the best thing about traveling was coming back home to the Montana family in Bergen, where I was volunteering for my last month. It is impressive how soon it made me feel like coming home whenever I got back to Bergen. Now when it is coming to an end of my time as a volunteer in Norway I look back and am very, very thankful for all the great experiences I gained, for all the wonderful people I met, for having a gorgeous time in Norway.
I promise I’ll come back! For coffee and cookies and some nice hikes.

 

Sebastian, Argentina

Do you like hostel life and atmosphere? Do you want to meet local people and travelers, learn about different cultures and open your mind? Are you a solo traveler or backpacker looking for an awesome adventure? Then you’re an ideal candidate for this social volunteer programme. You´ll interact with the hostel guests, talk, walk around and hike with them. You’ll help travelers to get an unforgettable experience in Norway. 

This programme is completely different (this is the most important thing) from other volunteer positions. You will do activities such as free guided tours, mountain hiking, BBQ’s, coffee & cookies break, karaoke nights, foosball tournaments etc. You’ll be totally free to decide and organize your daily schedule.

The staff has experience dealing with and helping the volunteers. Don’t worry! They’re very kind! You’ll be treated as a member of the family. And myself? I’m an Argentinian guy with Italian, Spanish and Portuguese roots living in Spain with an Italian citizenship. Yes, it seems like a tongue twister! I studied tourism and I visited 32 countries before my stay in Norway. I could say that I’m an experienced backpacker because I go to hostels on my trips, love to explore the cities I visit and talk with locals. I’m a curious person and traveling is my passion. My mind is always thinking about new destinations and trips.

Once in Bergen airport, the manager picked me up and brought me to Montana Hostel, and there my adventure started. After a couple of weeks we were three volunteers at the same time (Julia from Germany and Ai Nhu from Viet Nam), it was great to walk with groups of guests and organize activities.

After 5 weeks at Montana I went on to Stavanger to face new challenges: I was the first volunteer at St. Svithun Hostel, Stavanger. Luckily I didn’t go alone to the hostel, Julia stayed for one week there with me. We walked the city and explored it. Katri, the manager gave us information and brought us to some non-touristy places.

When Julia left, I was alone in Stavanger for four weeks so after exploring the city, I had time to organize walking tours and show the places to the guests. During myy last week in Stavanger a new volunteer, Kira from Russia, arrived, and I showed her all the places that I knew.

After St. Svithun, I returned to Montana and spent my last 3 weeks there. During my last weeks I met another volunteer, Mónica, a Mexican volunteer.

I learnt about Norwegian culture, visited two awesome cities (Bergen and Stavanger), met fantastic people and made new friends. 

 

 

 

Want to volunteer yourself? Tell us why and when and we will get back to you. Use the form below: