7 Things I Achieved Thanks to My Exchange in Turkey

“It started during my winter vacations. I kept hearing all my friends super excited about going home for a while, and how they couldn’t wait for summer vacations to be with their loved ones for entire 2 months!

I, on the other hand, had a really strange feeling evoking inside me. I didn’t want to spend all that time sitting at home doing nothing! Hence, I spent my entire winter vacation searching about things that would keep me busy during my summer holidays, as well as add on to my CV.

That was when I stumbled across AIESEC.

A few days later, after researching about all the projects and giving interviews, I finalized my exchange in Turkey! To my surprise, it didn’t take me more than a day to convince my parents to let me go abroad all alone – when I was just 18!

That’s how I got to spend 6 weeks in Turkey, and I had the best days of my life.

This Global Volunteer exchange made me explore and uncover parts of me buried deep within, and I couldn’t have been more grateful to AIESEC for giving me this beautiful opportunity.

I wish everyone could live something like that, so I’ll share a bit more with you right now.

Here are 7 things I achieved thanks to my Global Volunteer Exchange to Turkey, with  AIESEC:

1. Contributing to a better world and travel to another country

The concept of volunteering has always fascinated me the most. Helping others around the world while fulfilling your travel bucket list is a really great combination that AIESEC offers you.

I was working at a rehab center with specially-abled kids and adults and at the same time quenching my thirst for wanderlust on the go. All thanks to AIESEC!

2. Traveling on a budget

If at all I have dreamt about something passionately, it was traveling the world. But I never had enough funds to finance any of my trips!

AIESEC was my one-stop solution for affordable traveling.

The thing with traveling that drains out your pocket the most is when it comes to accommodation. But while I was in Turkey, I stayed along with my host family for 6 long weeks and I couldn’t have asked for better hosts than them.

They are more than family to me now!

3. Experiencing solo traveling

One of the most important things of what an individual must strike off his checklist before he turns 30 is a solo trip! I was beaming with joy when I strike this off my list merely at the age of 18! The feeling was just amazing!

4. Getting to know my latent talent

I strongly believe that traveling solo changes you as a person from within.

I never knew I could handle the pressure of surviving in a country without even knowing its native language. I never knew I could keep myself at cool while I changed 5 flights to get back home because I missed my connecting flight. I never knew I had the courage to go around exploring different cities within Turkey, all by myself!

I was truly surprised getting to know my all the things I was able to do by myself.

And most importantly, this experience helped me realize that I was a person of content, and to ignite my latent passion for writing once again – so much so that my first travel blog made to the top 5 on Google’s first page!

5. Learning about a different culture

Being a huge fan of Turkish drama, I thought I knew almost everything about Turkey, but I was so wrong!

It’s only when one goes and actually stays there, one gets to understand the real essence of the culture. I ended up loving their culture so much that now my house is full of Turkish chai and souvenirs.

My vocabulary of Turkish words and phrases increased from a mere 50 words to approximately 250 words when I returned from my exchange. By the end, I was even speaking in Turkish with my family members for almost a week since I got so used to the culture.

6. Making new friends from all around the world

My favorite and the most exciting part of the Global Volunteer was that AIESEC conducts a lot of cultural evenings!

Volunteers from all across the world gather around, wearing best of their traditional outfits, and bringing a bit of their traditional cuisines.

At first, I was skeptical about how it would all turn out to be, What will these people think about India? But the cultural eve was the best ice breaking session we all had.

We tasted flavors of different countries, danced in Spanish, French, Turkish, Hindi and Arabic music and what not! Now I can say that I know a bit about many many countries around the world.

7. Winning the trust of my parents

It wasn’t just me who started believing in myself, but also my parents and the people around me.

I was a whole new version of me when I returned from my exchange. I was more confident and even more independent, and my parents, my friends, and family noticed and felt the same.

I could see that my parents were really proud of me, and I could make out from their sparkling eyes that I had won their trust.  Sending a girl all alone when she just turned 18 to a country overseas was a brave thing my parents did.  And AIESEC made sure it reaped great results for their daughter.

To summarize it all, my exchange has helped me grow as an individual.

This trip has invoked a unique kind of spirit and passion in me.

I have never felt closer to accomplishing my dreams. It made me turn my CAN’Ts into CANs.  It truly was a life-changing experience for me.

So if you are someone having second thoughts about going for an exchange, don’t!

Just go with the flow and you will do wonders. You won’t even realize, but you will be surprising yourself each day on this journey!”

Nimisha Modi did her Global Volunteer in Turkey in July 2018. If you also want an experience like her, check out our opportunities at aiesec.org.  

The Magic in India’s Teardrop

You might reckon Sri Lanka has been hiding in plain sight! Seemingly a teardrop falling off the Indian peninsula due to its position and shape, innumerable travelers have passed overhead on their way to someplace else, but years of ambiguity kept it off many itineraries. Positioned between the more trodden parts of India and Southeast Asia, Sri Lanka’s history, culture and natural beauty are indisputably enthralling. It’s the place you haven’t been to yet, that you should.

Countless Adventures

Hardly any places have as many UNESCO World Heritage Sites (eight) packed into such a small piece of land. Fabled temples sheltered in caves or perch or prominent peaks boast of stunning details and lead to the remarkable Sri Lankan culture that spans over 2000 years. Safari tours of the amusingly tranquil national parks encounter leopards, water buffaloes, plethora of birds and a passel of primates. To an outsider’s astonishment, the thing that seems to be a bump in the night might be an elephant heading to a favorite waterhole.

Convenient Travelling

Distances are short and transport options are plentiful. You might encounter numerous marvels of colonial architecture just during a brisk walk around the city of Colombo. Moreover, the best way to travel around the country is by a train. Nothing can match the experience of riding a slow-moving train through Sri Lanka’s scenic hill countryside and it doesn’t even come with a mighty price tag.

Understand the Culture

At its closest point, only 18 miles of aquamarine waters separate Sri Lanka and India but there’s a world of difference between the two. The pace of life in Sri Lanka feels much less frantic than that of its neighbor, which makes it ideal for those intrigued, yet intimidated by life in India.

Societal Disturbances

This is a country which built itself from the ground up after a civil war that left it in turmoil. With reducing dependence on agriculture and rising urbanization, the Sri Lankan economy is thriving. However, the dark clouds of social injustice, child rights, corruption, gender inequality, political malpractices, environmental concerns, etc. still pose a question on the country’s upbeat and prosperous days ahead.

Volunteer projects run by AIESEC here create a huge impact in terms of societal development as wider perspectives from across the world come into action and create an amalgamation that takes on the deleterious remains of the civil war. In the process, volunteers grow and gain from experiences that change their outlook about themselves and their lives and each one of them thrives to contribute towards the impact.

If you are willing to create a significant impact and at the same time, drown yourself in the natural splendor around, Sri Lanka is the apt destination for you. This awe-inspiring island nation could gain a lot from your contribution and desire to lead and change the world. The experiences on offer here are magnificent and lend you with plentiful chances to find the magic in you. You’re always just a short hop from something utterly new!

Sri Lanka is spectacular, affordable and still often uncrowded. Now is the best time to discover it. Sign up as a Global Volunteer today!

8 things you must do in Sri Lanka

I’m not sure if you know about it, but Sri Lanka is an island full of beautiful places. If you’re young and passionate about exploring new places and living adventures, you should definitely visit this country.

Besides, Sri Lanka it’s also one of the countries with an easy visa process for Indians.

Here are 8 unique things to do in Sri Lanka.

 

1. Go on an Unforgettable Train Ride

When the journey is more important than the destination, you know you’re in for a special treat.

The train route from Kandy to Ella is one of the most beautiful train rides you will ever experience in your life. Surrounded on both sides by lush green forests, tea plantations, charming hills and the occasional waterfall, this is one train journey that you’ll wish would never end.

The trains in Sri Lanka are very clean and rarely crowded, so you might not even need to book your tickets in advance.

2. Stay in a Tree House

No matter where you are in Sri Lanka, you’re never too far from a lush forest. The incredible greenery of this country is one of the top reasons to go there. To get the full experience of these forests, make sure you spend the night in one of the many tree houses for rent here.

Originally built by villagers to protect them from the many wild animals which roam these forests, the tree houses in Sri Lanka are the perfect way to spend a night close to nature. These tree houses aren’t just comfortable to stay in, but also very affordable, making them one of the top things to do in Sri Lanka

3. Try Surfing on the Beaches

No visit to this country is complete without a day spent at the beach, which is one of the top Sri Lanka tourist places. Being a coastal country, Sri Lanka has some of the best beaches in the world.

Just relaxing by the sea watching the sun go down is a great way to spend your time. But if you’re in the mood for something more adventurous, you can also try your hand at surfing. Arugam Bay, in eastern Sri Lanka, is one of the top surfing destinations in the world!

So make sure you visit during the surfing season in March and April, because this is when the waves are at their strongest.

4. Go on a Bicycle Adventure

The best way to explore the small villages of Sri Lanka is on two wheels. There are many places here which allow you to rent bicycles at a very low price. Just cycling through narrow lanes, dirt paths and patches of greenery can be an incredible way to spend the day.

Don’t bother sticking to a map or a set bicycle route. Going where the road takes you can help you discover more of this beautiful country.

5. Go Dolphin and Whale-Spotting

How often do you get to see the biggest mammal in the world up close?

The ocean surrounding Sri Lanka is teeming with blue whales and dolphins, which can be easily spotted. Every morning, boats leave from places like Galle and Mirissa, in southern Sri Lanka, to popular whale-spotting areas in the sea.

For a very low price, you can buy a seat on one of these boats and see these beautiful underwater creatures for yourself.

6. Hike Your Way to a Waterfall

Sri Lanka is home to hundreds of beautiful waterfalls, set in the middle of green forests. While the popular ones are usually packed with tourists, you can ask the locals for lesser-known falls where you can enjoy your own privacy.

These falls can usually be reached by trekking up hills, many of which aren’t very difficult to reach. Depending on your level of experience, you can find a waterfall to trek your way to so you can fully immerse yourself in its natural beauty.

7. Visit a Tea Plantation

Lipton, a name that is now synonymous with tea, was first started by Sir Thomas Lipton in the tea plantations of Sri Lanka. Even today, decades later, Sri Lanka’s tea plantations remain beautifully green, making them a must-visit for every traveller.

When you explore the tea plantations, don’t forget to also visit the tea factories nearby. If tea makes your world go round, it will be wonderful to see how it’s made from start to finish. The factories even give you a cup of tea by the end of the tour so you can taste the fruits of their labour.

8. Volunteer for a cause you support

Sri Lanka should be at the top of every volunteer’s list.

This incredible island country has some of the most dynamic non-profit organizations, which are bringing about a world of change. Ranging from educating children to preserving marine ecosystems, one can find incredible opportunities to contribute to a better world.

Every minute you spend in this beautiful island will be filled with unforgettable experiences.

 

Have you ever been to Sri Lanka before? Tell us how was it!

If not, what are you waiting for?

If you are eager for an opportunity to experience Sri Lanka, we can help you with that. Check our opportunities for the Global Volunteer Program.

As a volunteer with us, you will not only be able to bring about a positive impact, but also explore new countries and learn about different cultures.

7 Characteristics That Every Great Volunteer Has In Common

Volunteers around the world are driven by a single purpose: to leave the world in a better place than they found it. If you have been inspired by the many reasons to volunteer, you might not know what to expect. Volunteering is one of the most challenging, yet rewarding, adventures you will ever experience in your life. If you want to make the biggest impact during your volunteering stint, you need to go above and beyond what is asked of you. What distinguishes good volunteers from great volunteers is their passion and drive to bring about a positive change with their work. Here are a few skills of a volunteer that they live by which can motivate you as well.

1. They Have A Fearless Approach

 To be a volunteer, especially in a new country, requires a lot of courage. You need to push yourself far from your comfort zone and adjust to new cultures, languages and people. Volunteering also requires you to come face-to-face with many harsh realities of the world. You will be meeting children who have experienced unimaginable pain, women trying to rebuild their lives after trauma and even animals who have faced inhumane cruelty. But as a volunteer, you need to be fearless and put their needs before your own emotions.

2. They Have Infinite Patience

A bottomless reservoir of patience and tenacity are crucial skills of a volunteer. When you first decide to volunteer, you might have big dreams about bringing about a revolutionary change with your work. However, when you actually start working, the realities of the situation begin to creep in. Not everything moves as quickly as you’d like and more often than not, things don’t fall into place as easily as you’d expect. But if you’re serious about bringing about change as a volunteer, you need to be patient and stick it out. If things don’t go your way (and most times, they won’t), never stop persisting. This is the only way young people can contribute to changing the world.

3. They Can Think Creatively

A good volunteer takes instructions and executes them. A great volunteer doesn’t just do their work perfectly, but also finds newer, better ways of getting it done. As a volunteer, there will be many times where you are faced with complex situations, which require novel solutions to maneuver through. In non-profit organisations, there is usually a scarcity of resources due to lack of funds. In these situations, volunteers need to be resourceful and overcome these obstacles. An ability to think creatively and bring innovative ideas to the table will make you more valuable as a volunteer.

4. They Are Eager to Take Initiative

Most non-profit organisations have too much work and too few people to handle it. Your supervisors will probably be too busy to guide you every single day. This is why, once you familiarise yourself with the work, it’s important that you start taking initiative and become more proactive about your duties. Instead of looking to your supervisor for direction, identify what needs to be done and start working on it yourself. This way, volunteering will help you develop a strong work ethic which can become extremely useful later.

5. They Stay Humble About Their Work

When you begin volunteering, it’s important that you remember you’re there to help, not to prove yourself. Volunteering requires you to be selfless and focus only on how you can create a meaningful impact. Great volunteers understand this and are eager to do everything possible to bring about a positive change. When you are working as a volunteer, it’s important to stay humble about your past accomplishments and skills. Having too much pride can hold you back as a volunteer because it prevents you from learning and making meaningful contributions.

6. They Are Driven by Passion

When nothing seems to be going well and the situation looks dire, the one thing that keeps a great volunteer going is genuine passion for their work. If you’re volunteering just for college credit, you might not be able to make the most out of your volunteering experience. Many of the duties you will be carrying out when you’re volunteering will be day-to-day admin tasks. Passion can help you stop looking at this work as drudgery and instead, as important duties that keep the organisation running smoothly. Volunteers across the globe are making a huge difference fuelled by their passion to create an impact.

7. They Can Work In Teams

Volunteering is about working towards something bigger than yourself. Great volunteers distance themselves from petty fights and politics because they’re focused on more important things. When you start volunteering, there will be many projects where you will have to work with a team. Even if personal differences arise, you need to recognise that every member brings a special set of skills to the table and is important. What you can accomplish as part of a team will always be greater than what you would be able to on your own. Learning the art of teamwork will be one of the biggest lessons you can learn from volunteering.

If you believe you have many of these prized skills of a volunteer and are eager transform the world, take your first step with AIESEC. As part of our Global Volunteer Program, you can travel to over 25 countries for unique, fulfilling volunteering opportunities. Become an AIESEC volunteer and help countries around the world move closer to achieving the UN development goals.

How You Can Make a Difference in Vietnam by Working as a Volunteer

One of the things Millennials care about the most is bringing about a positive change in the world. Working as a volunteer could be one of the most rewarding things you do in college. While volunteering is always fulfilling, volunteering in a new country opens up the doors to a unique experience. Some of the reasons to volunteer abroad include the rare opportunity to learn about different cultures and come into contact with people you would never otherwise meet. Among the many countries that students can volunteer in, Vietnam definitely tops the list. Vietnam is one of the most beautiful countries in Asia where you can meet some truly inspirational people. However, it is also a country that is still dealing with poverty, gender issues and the aftereffects of war. If you are looking for a volunteering experience where you can make a genuine impact, here are a few reasons why you should choose Vietnam.

Experience Vietnam’s Growth First Hand

Vietnam is at a very interesting point in its history where the country’s GDP is growing at a faster rate than ever before. But while the number of people living in poverty has gone down significantly over the years, Vietnam still has a long way to go. As a volunteer in Vietnam, you will have the chance to witness Vietnam’s growth for yourself and play an important role in its development. While conditions are slowly improving, a lot of Vietnam’s economically disadvantaged need better living conditions, education and vocational training. When you work as a volunteer here, you can do your bit to contribute to these needs and leave an impact on its people.

Support the Women of Vietnam

 The women in Vietnam are some of the most resilient, inspirational people you will ever meet. Undoubtedly, Vietnam’s women are the backbone of the country’s growth. Almost two-thirds of the women are actively involved in the country’s economy. However, most of their contribution isn’t recognized, with an astounding 80% disparity in the gender wage gap. Social prejudices also hamper many women from getting a proper education or a good job. Many women in Vietnam face the brunt of domestic violence and sexual assault. As a volunteer in Vietnam, you can help counsel to these women, help them rebuild their lives after a trauma and offer to educate them for a better tomorrow.

 Help Educate Vietnam’s Next Generation

 Children hold the key to Vietnam’s growth because they will make up the country’s future leaders and workforce. Educating its children is the only sure way for Vietnam to speed up its economic growth and development. Yet, education remains a distant dream for many children in Vietnam. As formal education (especially education in English) is expensive, many families below the poverty line cannot afford to pay for it. This is where volunteers can really make a difference. By working with young children and imparting good quality education to them, you are playing an integral role in the development of Vietnam.

 Provide Vocational Training for the Poor

 Due to Vietnam’s continuing economic disparity, not everyone has been able to reap the benefits of development. Many teenagers and young adults in Vietnam continue to live on the streets as they do not have sufficient skills to earn a proper income. As a volunteer, you can do your part to alleviate their condition by providing invaluable vocational training to them. Vocational training provides important skill sets, making it easier for them to gain employment. This ensures that they can earn a sufficient income and build a better life for themselves.

Save Endangered Species

 Vietnam has a rich, diverse variety of flora and fauna, making it every wildlife enthusiast’s dream come true. However, many of these species are under threat from deforestation, poachers and illegal trade. By volunteering with Vietnam’s wildlife organisations, you can play an integral role in the rescue and rehabilitation of several endangered animals. You can also gain an insight into Vietnam’s conservation efforts and the problems they face in maintaining their biodiversity. If you have always wanted to do your bit for the voiceless, volunteering with Vietnam’s wildlife organisations will be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life.

Vietnam is set apart by its rich history and cultural heritage. This beautiful country is full of breathtaking sites to see and delicious food to eat. Do your bit to give back to Vietnam with a meaningful volunteering program. Vietnam is also one of the countries which have an easy visa process for Indians. Visit AIESEC to learn more about our Global Volunteer Program and how you can make an impact in over 25 countries, including Vietnam.