Yet despite how overwhelming arriving to a new city can be, volunteering is one of the greatest ways to settle into a new city. And of course, in times of Corona, it is not exactly easier to get to know a new city and people.
We speak from experience when we tell you that no matter whether you have just moved to a new city, have lived there for three years or whether you are just visiting – volunteering is a great way to get to know a city and its people. With or without Corona determining your everyday life.
Through our volunteering platform vostel.de we have already connected thousands of expats with social projects in different German cities during the last five years. We know about the effect volunteering has on the speed and ease of settling down in a new city.
Thus, in this article, we want to show you four good reasons why you should consider volunteering as an expat. Plus we present you a fine collection of volunteering platforms from all over the world so you can start right now from wherever you are located.
4 REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD VOLUNTEER AS AN EXPAT
Reason #1: Meet new people
While you can keep yourself busy at first by exploring your new surroundings with activities like visiting flea markets and art galleries or dive into the city’s nightlife, you are soon going to find yourself yearning for a deeper connection.
Volunteering is a great opportunity to build some real friendships. Volunteers are friendly and open-minded by nature. Right now classical offline volunteering – like helping out in a homeless shelter or building flower beds in a gardening project – might be not or only partly possible, but even through online volunteering, you will get to know like-minded people.
Reason #2: Use the opportunity to learn something new
Travelling or even moving to a new country is a pretty weird experience. Everything is a little bit different and you start to miss random things from home. It takes a lot of effort to leave a comfortable life and to get used to a new place, a new culture and new habits. So congratulations to you for attempting it! So while you’re at it, why not dedicate some of your time to try out something new? Learn how to fix things at the Repair Cafe, help to build a garden in a shared accommodation or teach someone a new language online. There are many volunteer jobs that will help you master a new skill while contributing to the wider community. Win-win!
Reason #3: Help migrants less fortunate than yourself
For many expats and travellers, getting to a new city is a fairly simple experience. Grab your passport, book the next flight (or in our preference: the next train) and go! So why not reinvest your energy into helping migrants for whom the move to a new country is not so simple. Even if you only have a few hours, there are plenty of great organisations out there looking for your help.
Reason #4: Get to know the city
Okay, this point may apply more to Corona-free times, but we still don’t want to ignore it. By the time you’ve gotten to know all the famous sights, hip cafes and cool places to hang out, it’s time to dive even further into the city you might even call home.
By volunteering with local organizations you will get to know completely new sides of a city – sides that remain hidden to you as a classic tourist. Depending on which kind of volunteering project you participate in, you will get to know the city from another perspective both geographically and socially.
HOW TO FIND THE RIGHT VOLUNTEERING OPPORTUNITY
Finding a volunteering opportunity in a new country can be challenging. Thus we have collected a whole bunch of platforms worldwide that make it easy for you to find volunteering activities in your new destination.
Please note: The here compiled platforms offer people already living in the places the opportunity to volunteer on a short- or long-term basis. Since we do not generally agree with the practice of volunteer abroad programs, none of the sites here include full-time jobs, internships or volunteering programs.
Volunteering in Belgium
The small country in the middle of Europe is home to most European Institutions and stands out through its international vibe – three languages are officially spoken! Here are two sites to make the most of your time living there.
Volunteering in Germany
Germany has become an attractive destination for tourists, expats and people looking for a fresh start. While volunteering has been a “thing for older people” quite a long, it’s becoming more and more popular among young people.
- www.servethecity.de ( Serve the City is a global community and offers volunteering in the way of group activities on a regular basis. Unfortunately, the page is not available in English.)
- vostel.de (Of course, our fabulous platform is one of the platforms you should check out for volunteering opportunities when in Germany. Quite a bunch of short-term and long-term volunteering opportunities don’t require any German skills.)
Volunteering in Italy
Italians are quite active when it comes to volunteering. Here are some cool sites to use – unfortunately, none of the sites are available in English. So if you do not speak Italian yet, you should start now, SPEAK will help you.
- www.volontariperungiorno.it (you have to register to use the website, otherwise very easy to use)
- www.uidu.org/it/scopri/annunci (mostly long-term commitments, a bit more tricky to navigate but with an amazing array of opportunities)
Volunteering in the Netherlands
Dutchies are the happiest and brightest people of the world. This probably stems from their active volunteering culture. Did you know that almost 50% of all Dutch Citizens over 15 years are volunteering?
- www.deedmob.com (available in English, possibility to filter by interests, time and others)
- www.nlvoorelkaar.nl (only available in English)
Volunteering in Spain
All our Spanish friends will find a treat on this Spanish website helpup. Whether with monetary or physical donation, or the most important donation of them all – your time – there is always a way of giving back.
- www.helpup.com (only available in Spanish)
Volunteering in the UK
Did you know that the 25-34 years old are least likely to volunteer in the UK? Time to change that! With the following websites (all available in English, obviously!) it’s easy to find something that is right up your alley.
- www.do-it.org (mostly long term commitments)
- www.handsonlondon.org.uk (only London based)
The country you want to get involved in is not included? Have a look at our blog post A comprehensive guide to volunteering platforms all around the world. There you will find a more detailed guide.
Do you need more convincing to get started? Read "Community: 5 ways you can help your city."