Testimony of a French girl volunteering in Denmark
What were you doing before going on EVS? Why did you want to go?
I was working as a Press Attaché in a communication agency in Paris. I started working as soon as I finished my studies and even though I loved my work, I started regretting not to have lived abroad. I was 24 at the time and I told myself it was the right moment to go, I was afraid if I waited longer I would lose the opportunity. That is why I looked for mobility programmes to enrich my professional experience with an international one. Also, I was curious about discovering a new country, culture and way of life.
How did you find out about EVS?
I made some researches on the Internet and I went to my sending organisation, CIDJ, where I attended an information meeting on EVS and a workshop on EVS applications.
What did your EVS project consist in?
I spent my EVS at the International Sport and Culture Association (ISCA). I mainly worked on the NowWeMOVE European campaign, initiated by ISCA in 2012 and supported by the European Commission. The aim of this campaign is to get 100 million more Europeans active in sport and physical activity by 2020.
As part of this campaign, I did various communication tasks:
- Internal: newsletter, organisation data collect and updates.
- External: PR campaign at the European level, website, social networks and subscriptions management, research of new members.
- Event: organisation of various events organised in the framework of the NowWeMove campaign.
- Lobbying: raising members of the European Parliament’s awareness on the importance of practicing sport and physical activity. We made two lobbying actions at the European Parliament in September 2014 and June 2015 during which we realised these two videos:
Were you able to say anything in Danish before going?
No, not a single thing! I took evening classes in Denmark. Even if my working language was English, I wanted to learn the basics of the country I was living in. Last June, I approved the first module of an oral exam. This means I am able to have a basic conversation about my work, my personality, my family, etc. This language is very difficult to learn. I think the most difficult part of the learning process is, without any doubt, the pronunciation. It is so different from our Latin sounds. Furthermore, it is very difficult to speak Danish to Danish people. They are perfectly bilingual so, as soon as they notice that you are a foreigner, they speak to you in English.
How did you live your integration in your hosting organisation?
I felt very well integrated in my hosting organisation. All the team, which counts with an former French EVS volunteer, was very nice and I rapidly felt at ease in the organisation. In Denmark, there is no hierarchy like in France, the President of the ISCA would talk to the volunteers as if we were on the same level. He would often organise diners at home and would invite everybody, which also reinforced the team spirit. Furthermore, even though my English was not that good when I arrived, I have never felt judged. On the contrary, everybody was very encouraging and very patient.
Where did you live and what did you do during your free time?
The organisation has two flats for their volunteers. I lived in one of them, in Lyngby, in the northern suburbs of Copenhagen, with Merle and Monika, the Belgium and Slovene volunteers.
I spent my free time visiting the city, going out with my friends (the volunteers of ISCA, people from my Danish classes or other EVS volunteers I had met during the arrival seminar), etc. I had also joined a Francophone associative radio in Copenhagen called Radio Escapade. Created in 2005, this radio aims at promoting cultural and linguistic exchanges between Francophone and Danish people. I used to give historical chronicles on Monday evenings. So I spent part of my free time preparing these chronicles. It was an amazing experience which helped me developping a francophone network in Copenhagen. It was very important for me, especially at the moment of the attack in Paris in January, I needed to exchange with French people on these tragic events.
Do you think this experience is a « plus » on your CV?
Yes, I undeniably do. First of all, I have made enormous progress in English and I have had the chance to do my job in an international context while discovering new working methods.