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Nicky Popa

The experience of an ESC International Volunteer

If somebody told me a year ago I would spend my summer in London I would tell them they are insane, but here I am, 20 and free and in one of the best cities in the world. My name is Nicky and I will tell you about my ESC journey so far.

I knew about ESC from a former Lithuanian friend of mine that volunteered through the program in my hometown in Romania and so I signed up. I was never really sure where I wanted to go so I only browsed through the opportunities. I never applied until a random day in December when I received an email from the platform that a placement in London was available, they asked if I’d like to apply. The email came when I needed it the most; I was going through a rough time and I had started feeling more and more distant from the world. (But, being with Sculpt, in London, has made me feel like the main character for a change.)

So there I was, in front of my laptop wondering if I was ready to embark on this journey or not. I took a leap of faith and jumped head-first and I think it must have been one of the smartest things I have ever done.

The process of applying was not complicated, a CV, a cover letter, an interview and you’re good to go. I encouraged one of my friends to apply as well. I thought to myself that this is a big step for me to go alone so it would be the best if I could go with someone I knew, but she ended up not applying for it whilst I got accepted. 

I packed my bags, hugged my family and told myself that this is about me. It was tough to leave, even tougher the first few days, but after a week I can say that the struggle was worth it. As I said before, this trip is the smartest thing I have ever done.

The departure was not as easy as planned. Some things nobody could control. I was supposed to leave on the first of July, I had tickets bought, but had not received my visa. So there I was left with a bunch of questions wondering if I would even end up going. Two days later I received it! So, I quickly booked another plane.

Of course it was a roller coaster of emotions, from nervous to confused to nervous again. At the airport I met another volunteer, it was nice to share this experience with someone that was going through similar things, it felt less lonely and that everything will eventually be… just fine.

London. We’re here. Now what? We were greeted at the train station by people from the Sculpt that went with us to our accommodations.

It did not take long for me to realise that I feel more like myself here, it is a big city that can be lonely, but you are never alone. It is a unique feeling that you won’t find everywhere.

We went to the office, we met a few people and we started getting involved. Essentially, this program gives you a taste of how it would be to have this kind of life. The volunteering tasks are your job that you are responsible for, your accommodation is your home and you have to figure out what you are going to do with yourself in your free time. 

So far so good, it is only the first week but I can see the potential of this experience, and I am excited to continue.