CCovid-19 made Thaïs Gussinyer, who is from Olot and about to turn 18, rethink her life. She knew that after secondary school she wanted to move to Barcelona. She didn’t know what studies to pursue, and was considering several different courses, but she was very excited to start university.
But then the virus arrived: “With the pandemic, I had to do part of the second term of school, the whole of the third and all prep classes for the university entrance exam online, and the truth is that I found it quite hard,” she says. “I expected I wouldn’t be able to do 100% face-to-face classes in September and the idea of taking my first year of university through a screen in my room did not appeal to me at all. That’s why I decided to postpone my studies and go abroad. Ever since I could think for myself I’ve wanted to travel the world, although taking a year out wasn’t in my original plans. She looked at the different options available to her and finally decided to volunteer abroad.
“Right now I’m in the south of Scotland, in a campsite in the middle of the mountains, an hour’s drive from the nearest village. Contracts are similar everywhere: we work about five or six hours a day for five days a week in exchange for accommodation and food. The jobs vary depending on where I am, but all I have to do here is take care of the owners’ pets, prepare the bungalows for the guests, do small jobs in the garden and do any other little task I’m asked to do.”
She is quite isolated from the virus, but also from people: “I’m in a beautiful place, but it is quite remote. Unfortunately, I don’t have a car and there’s no possibility to move around by public transport, so it’s like being isolated from the world. I don’t feel like I’m in the middle of a pandemic here. In addition, the mask is not mandatory in outdoor spaces. So the first day I arrived, I was very surprised to see most people outside the train stations or on the streets without one. Restrictions depend on the level of Covid risk in each area, but most of the restaurants and shops have not closed. In general, I have the feeling that the measures are less restrictive than in Catalonia.”
However, Thaïs recommends the experience and is very happy with the decision she has made: “Volunteering is a much more affordable alternative to travelling conventionally and is a good opportunity to get to know a country better. I’m just starting out, but I don’t regret it at all at the moment.”