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Green-hearted volunteering: My Zurich Experience

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The next (and unfortunately the last) stop during my volunteering abroad experience was Zurich! If I’m being honest, leaving Torino shattered my heart a little but Zurich did very well in filling the void. I’m very happy I got to spend my time there with amazing people as well, doing things together for a good cause.
ESN Zurich at the Big Comedy Kiss event
ESN Zurich at the Big Comedy Kiss event

 

This time I was lucky with the weather as well, which made the experience perfect since this Swiss section really likes to organise outdoors events. During my stay there has been a Pfannenstiel (meaning pan handle) Hike. People in Zurich have a deep appreciation for hiking, and it's easy to see why. Surrounded by breath-taking natural landscapes, from the serene shores of Lake Zurich to the majestic Swiss Alps, hiking offers an escape into nature's beauty. This activity is more than just a pastime; it's a cherished tradition that promotes both physical and mental well-being. Physically, hiking is an excellent form of exercise that improves cardiovascular health, strengthens muscles, and enhances endurance. Mentally, it provides a powerful stress-relief mechanism, fostering mindfulness and a sense of peace as hikers immerse themselves in the natural world. The combination of physical exertion and the serene environment helps to clear the mind, reduce anxiety, and boost overall mood. For the people of Zurich, hiking is not only a way to stay fit but also a vital practice for maintaining a balanced and healthy lifestyle.

 

Hiking is also a great opportunity to meet new people and socialise! The person who showed me the city and also shared some experience about volunteering is Martyna. I really enjoyed spending time with her and I appreciate it with all my heart! It’s a little funny because we met in the Switzerland and it turned out that we’re both Polish. Moreover, our cities are not so far from each other, which really proves how small the world is! It was extremely fun since she showed me the city she’s been living and studying in while also explaining how ESN Zurich works. We’ve been discussing our experience in ESN and shared many stories, showing our (sometimes different) points of view. Overall, we’re both trying to focus on positive things in life and gain even more knowledge through travelling.

 

Talking with others about their experiences, especially in the context of travel, meeting new people, and exploring different cultures, is incredibly enriching. It opens up new perspectives, fosters mutual understanding, and builds a sense of global community. Sharing travel stories can inspire future adventures, provide practical tips, and create lasting bonds based on shared interests and experiences. Engaging in such conversations not only broadens our horizons but also deepens our appreciation for the diversity and commonality of human experiences across the world. Through these dialogues, we learn to value the unique aspects of different cultures while recognizing the universal themes that connect us all.

Zurich Lake
Zurich Lake

When speaking of time outside, I can’t forget to mention the picnics by the lake in Zurich! They are a delightful way to enjoy the city's natural beauty, particularly when they are organised as events filled with Erasmus students. The serene setting of Lake Zurich, with its clear waters and picturesque surroundings, provides a perfect backdrop for relaxation and socialization. These gatherings offer a unique opportunity for students from different countries to come together, share their cultures, and build lasting friendships.

It's an obvious thing, that’s why it might not be mentioned often enough but I still think it’s worth to say it out loud: When Erasmus students participate in such events, the impact extends beyond just a pleasant afternoon by the lake. It fosters a sense of community and belonging among international students who might be far from home. Even such apparently easy things as sharing meals, playing games, and engaging in conversations in a relaxed environment help break down cultural barriers and promote intercultural understanding. It’s also worth to mention that ESN Zurich section itself is pretty international – around 50% members are Swiss, the other half are international students who came here to study! That’s why such integrating activities are so important in international environments.

“Simple” events like that also encourage collaboration and networking, which can be beneficial for academic and professional growth. Students exchange ideas, share their experiences of studying abroad, and support each other in navigating the challenges of living in a new country. Moreover, such events can inspire a sense of responsibility towards the environment, leading to increased participation in eco-friendly activities and a collective effort to maintain cleanliness and sustainability, especially considering such a beautiful nature that Zurich has to offer.

 

My volunteering adventure ended on a high note in Zurich after starting in Torino. Both experiences were incredibly enriching, offering me opportunities to meet wonderful people, engage in meaningful activities, and immerse myself in different cultures. Overall, this journey has been immensely rewarding, leaving me with cherished memories and a broadened perspective. I would definitely love to participate in a similar project in the future!

Three girls at the lake of Zurich
Picture taken during the picnic with international people
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