What about volunteer work in Sweden?
Blogpost by Juanita Olivera. Currently doing her Masters in Literature at Stockholm University. She has a profound love for poetry and swimming.
One of my biggest fears when coming to Sweden was not making any friends. Although Stockholm and particularly Stockholm University has a very international environment, I thought that I would be missing out on so much if I didn’t try to go out of that safe English-speaking environment and did something outside the box to try and meet some locals.
My passions in life are poetry and swimming. And surprisingly enough, for the world and me, they have given me some tools that have been particularly useful and have come in handy in this case. And I will tell you why and how.
Literature, poetry in particular, have motivated me to learn languages, namely to readtexts in their original language; and although I am still in the process of learning and being fluent in Swedish I have found that in the current case of ongoing massive immigration, knowing languages is of great value and can actually help in many situations. Here come few insights from my first volunteer job:
At the Stockholm University there are many posters pinned in every faculty wall, clearly most of them are in Swedish but I would suggest to take a look around and see what the offers are. Many of us have many skills that can be valuable for this service, for example in the case of the previous blogger’s Nick, Mathematics is the skill that is valuable in this area among the other ones. Many refugees need help catching up on subjects at school, both at the elementary and high school level, such as maths, physics, English etc. In my case I came across with one refugee that needed volunteer that spoke French to teach some elementary mathematics. I wrote an Swedish email using my language knowledge of basic Swedish and they immediately answered. They were eager to have some helping hands and they were more than welcoming. Although the required languages for the volunteer job were French and Arab, most of the other volunteers were Swedish and I have found amazing people to hang out with that also have the patience and the time to help me practice my Swedish with them.
We all know and have been told enough times that Stockholm is expensive and also without a doubt the city has so many cultural activities that for the student budget are way beyond grasp. Hence it is indeed be a pity to miss out on many. Nevertheless here comes my second suggestion:
Volunteer for festivals
So again, time to put your particular interests in action. There are so many film, dance, theatre, literature and music festivals held in Stockholm that they are always requiring some extra help. Again, I would recommend to check posters even if they are in Swedish! Last year Stockholm’s International Poetry Festival posted that they needed some help and I was more than eager to participate. Not only it was a great experience because I got to meet the poets and was able to do some translations, but it actually landed me a permanent job which I was not expecting at all. The organizing team of the festival, all Swedish by the way, ended up being a publishing house that required some help in the long run and my love for poetry and languages was just what they needed! I get to read and talk in Swedish all the time while having Swedish friends that share the same interests!
So, I would suggest to all of you out there to look for activities outside the University that can really enrich your experience here in Sweden. Do not be afraid to write and email and just ask! You never know what opportunities can wait for you at the end.
And let’s admit it, in current world situations I have had great opportunities in life, namely to learn languages and travel, so why not share the love? Why not share your abilities with others while gaining so much more in return?
Here is also a link to help you find volunteering opportunities