Ein Rückblick in wenigen Worten?

Zurück in Deutschland ging es für mich direkt in das recht straffe Masterstudium des Naturschutzes, was mich aber nicht davon abhält immer wieder einen Gedanken an meine Auslandsreise zu verlieren. Estland, Sommer, Europäischer Freiwilligen-Dienst (EFD), drei Monate, Estonian Fund for Nature (ELF) und ein internationales Team – wie kann ich mein Erlebnis in wenige Worte fassen?

 Bevor ich in dieses kleine Land ging war ich völlig offen aber ebenso unsicher, wie es werden würde. Aber schon nach den ersten Wochen war mir klar, dass ich meine kurzfristige Entscheidung nicht bereuen würde. Es gibt so viele große und kleine Dinge, die ich während meines EFDs gelernt habe. Während ich die großartige Chance hatte, viele Nationalparks und Naturreservate Estlands zu besuchen, erfuhr ich auch was es bedeutet, die wertvollen, teilweise semi-naturellen Habitate zu erhalten. Die sehr oft enge Tuchfühlung mit der Natur, die körperliche Arbeit und die Distanz zur sicheren Heimat taten mir total gut weil sie meinen Kopf frei gemacht haben und mich dazu bewegten ab und zu über meinen Schatten zu springen. Auch der Austausch mit meinen tollen Team-Kollegen Laura und Thomas sowie anderen Freiwilligen verschaffte mir einen neuen Blick auf einige Dinge – vielleicht nehme ich heute so Manches leichter.

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Positiv überrascht hat mich, wie viele engagierte Menschen, Ausländer und Einwohner, in Estland zusammen kommen. Und alle waren aus den gleichen Gründen hier: unbekannte Orte besuchen, dem Alltag entfliehen, Gleichgesinnte oder Freunde finden, einen kulturellen Austausch erleben und natürlich etwas Gutes für die Natur tun. Ich denke mit der Freiwilligen-Arbeit kann man nur Gewinn machen! In der Zukunft habe ich vor, mich weiterhin in ähnlichen Camps auf Freiwilligenbasis zu engagieren, sei es im In- oder Ausland – vielleicht sogar eines Tages wieder in Estland. SONY DSC

Einen Europäischen Freiwilligen-Dienst kann ich jedem jungen Menschen, der auf der Suche nach Abwechslung ist, nur empfehlen. Wie ich in meinem Fall sehe, können ein paar Monate im Ausland die persönliche Entwicklung enorm fördern und dabei helfen eine genauere Zukunftsperspektive zu zeichnen. Beispielsweise kann ich an viele Dinge, die ich in Estland über die Natur gelernt habe, jetzt in meinem Studium anknüpfen. Auch Soft Skills, wie z.B. die enge Arbeit in einem internationalen Team (wir drei wurden als “heart, hand and head” betitelt), können eine wichtige Rolle im zukünftigen Arbeitsalltag spielen. Ein weiteres Argument, welches meiner Meinung nach für den EFD spricht und das für viele junge Menschen sicher relevant sein wird, ist, dass der gesamte Aufenthalt durch die EU finanziert wird!

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Obwohl die estnische Kultur der deutschen ziemlich ähnelt, konnte ich zahlreiche typische Traditionen wie die Zubereitung des Frühstücksbreies oder eine Sauna im Baltischen Meer miterleben. Das Vorurteil Esten seien recht zurückhaltend, kann ich übrigens nicht bestätigen. In den meisten Situationen lernte ich sie als sehr offene, freundliche und hilfsbereite Menschen kennen. Zudem traf ich viele Leute, die gern bereit waren ihre Naturliebe mit mir zu teilen und so sammelten wir Pilze, Kräuter und Beeren, folgten Elchspuren und kochten Apfelmarmelade. Durch unsere Tutoren und andere Kollegen des ELFs sowie durch Spezialisten (u.a. einen Ornithologen, Entomologen, Pflanzensoziologen, eine Geografielehrerin und einen Wildtier-Veterinärmediziner) erfuhren wir Interessantes über die estnische Flora, Fauna, Geologie und Geschichte, oder bekamen auch einfach Geschichten, wie z.B. über die erste Begegnung mit einem Bären, erzählt. DSC_0801

Ein mit entscheidender Grund warum mein EFD letztendlich so gelungen war, war die exzellente Arbeit meiner Gastgeber-Organisation, dem Estonian Fund for Nature (ELF). Wir hatten wirklich großartige Tutoren und Mentoren, die uns sehr gut auf die Reise vorbereiteten und während des Aufenthaltes sehr engagiert unterstützten – hinsichtlich der Arbeit und persönlicher Belange. Von dem Ablaufplan bis hin zur Unterbringung und der Logistik war alles sehr gut organisiert. Für Fragen und Wünsche gab es stets ein offenes Ohr und die Möglichkeit etwas durchzusetzen. Ich möchte nur Triins Bemühung um ein eigenes Fahrrad für uns nennen sowie dank Rait die Möglichkeit Greifvogel-Flugversuchen mit durchzuführen.

Um meine Eingangsfrage zu beantworten, würde ich mein Estland-Abenteuer mit den folgenden Worten zusammen fassen: Natur, Freundschaften, Lernen und Spaß. Es war einfach eine unvergessliche Zeit, für die ich sehr dankbar bin!

“Aitäh ja nägemist”, Lea

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Looking back with few words?

Back to Germany I have straightaway started my tight Master study in nature conservation, but that doesn’t keep me away from looking back on my adventure abroad. Estonia, summer, European Voluntary Service (EVS), three month, Estonian Fund for Nature (ELF) and an international team – how can I put my experience and what it was really like in few words?IMG_0506

Before going to this small country I was completely open but also rather unsure about how it would become. But already after the first weeks I knew that I wouldn’t regret my short-term choice. There are so many big and small things that I have learnt during my EVS. While having the great chance to visit many of Estonia’s National Parks and Nature Reserves, partly in very remoted places, I experienced what it means to preserve valuable semi-natural habitats. Being so close to nature together with physical work and the distance to my “save” home cleared my mind and forced me to jump over my shadow from time to time. Also the exchange with my wonderful team mates Laura & Thomas and other volunteers gave me a new view on some situations – for example I would say today I take certain things easier.

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I was positively surprised how many engaged people, foreigners and inhabitants come together in Estonia. All of us volunteers were here for similar reasons: Visiting unknown places, escaping from everyday life, finding friends, having a cultural exchange and of course doing something good for nature. I think with volunteering in each aspect you can only make profit! In the future I am planning to join work camps like these “conservation holidays” in Germany or other countries and maybe one day in Estonia again.

I can strongly recommend an EVS to every young person, who is looking for another kind of experience. As I see in my case some month in another country can shape ones personal development and can help to have a more precise future idea and job perspective. For example many things about nature I have learnt in Estonia are now useful in my current study. Also the personal achievements or so called soft skills, like the ability of working close together in an international team (with Thomas and Laura we were called the “heart, hand and head”) can play an important role in coming everyday work. And of course the financing of the whole stay by the European Union is one not unimportant reason why young people should take the opportunity! DSC_1371

Although the Estonian culture is relatively similar to my culture, I could experience many typical traditions like preparing the morning porridge and enjoying a sauna in the Baltic sea. By the way the prejudice Estonians would possess a rather reserved character I can’t confirm at all. In most situations I got to know them as very open and friendly people that were ready to help. In addition I met so many people who just love to live together with nature and that were happy to introduce it to us. Thus we picked mushrooms, herbs and berries, followed elk tracks and cooked apple jam. By our tutors and other colleagues from the ELF, as well as by specialists (i.a. an ornithologist, entomologist, plant sociologist, geography teacher and wild animal veterinarian) or island keepers we learnt interesting things about the Estonian flora, fauna, geology and history – or just got told stories like about the first meeting with a bear.

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One important reason why my EVS was so successful was the excellent work of my host organization, the ELF. We have had really great tutors and mentors who prepared us very well for the trip and who supported us during the stay very engaged in both work and personal issues. From work plan to accommodation and logistics everything was truly well organized. For questions and wishes there was always an open ear and the possibility to implement something. As only two examples I name Triins effort to get a bicycle to use for each of us and thanks to Rait the possibility to assist a veterinarian with birds of prey- flight tests.

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 To answer my question from the beginning I would summarize my Estonian adventure with the words nature, friendships, learning and fun. It was just an unforgettable time for which I am very grateful!

Aitäh ja nägemist, Lea

Inolvidable

Si tuviera que definir mi SVE en Estonia bastaría con una palabra: inolvidable.

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Si echo un vistazo a cuando llegué a este lejano país y comparo con ahora puedo ver que he aprendido muchas cosas tanto sobre trabajo como personales.

He descubierto que realmente disfruto viviendo en un país extranjero, descubriendo día a día cosas nuevas, nuevas personas y nuevas experiencias. Es un sentimiento que te llena emocionalmente. Por este motivo, me gustaría seguir haciendo voluntariados pero aún no sé dónde ni cuando.

Además, estoy convencida que hacer un voluntariado es un manera de ganar experiencia y, por lo tanto, puede ayudarte a conseguir un trabajo. En mi caso, yo he desarrollado trabajos de restauración y manejo de hábitats y esto ha complementado notablemente mi conocimiento inicial en conservación. En el ámbito personal, he aprendido por ejemplo a no temer la soledad y a ser una persona más abierta.

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En mi opinión, una aventura en el extranjero debería experimentarla todo el mundo. Y una de las mejores maneras de hacerlo es con EVS. Como escribí en un post anterior, ése es un servicio voluntario financiado por la Unión Europea que ayuda a la gente joven a adquirir habilidades adicionales mediante la formación en el extranjero. Es por eso que animo a toda la juventud a realizarlo.

Mucha gente me pregunta: ¿qué te llevas de Estonia contigo?  entonces yo tengo que pararme a pensar porque no sólo me llevo una cosa. Dejando aparte los souvenirs :), me llevo el recuerdo de cuatro meses maravillosos, miles de buenos recuerdos de personas, paisajes y simplemente sentimientos. Y por supuesto, me llevo conmigo el aprendizaje del que antes no disponía.

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Uno de los últimos días en Estonia, Thomas y yo hablábamos sobre este tema y los dos pensamos que volver siempre sería algo maravilloso porque dejamos aquí cuatro meses de nuestra vida.

En cuanto a mis compañeros de aventura, en realidad no hay nada nuevo que decir que no hayamos dicho ya. Compartir estos meses con vosotros ha sido un verdadero placer. Sin vosotros esta experiencia no hubiese sido lo mismo. Gracias.

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Hasta siempre,

Laura

Unforgettable

If I had to define my EVS in Estonia just using one word I’d say: unforgettable.

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Looking back when I got to this far country and compare to now, I can feel that I learnt lots things both work and personally.

I found out that I really enjoy living in a foreign country, discovering every day new things, new people and new experiences. It’s a feeling that fills you emotionally. That is why I would like to continue doing volunteer works although I don’t know where and when yet.

I addition, I am convinced that volunteer work is a way to gain experience and therefore it can help you to get job. In my case, I have carried out habitat restoration and management works complementing remarkably my initial knowledge on conservation. In the personal sphere, I learnt for example not to fear the loneliness and being a more open person socially.

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 In my opinion everyone should experience an adventure abroad.And one of the best ways to do it is with EVS. As I wrote in a previous post, this is a voluntary service financed by European Union that helping young people to acquire additional skills through training abroad.   That is why I encourage all young people to do it.

 Many people ask me: what do you take with you of Estonia? Then I must think because I don’t take with me just one thing. Leaving aside the souvenirs :), I take with me the memory of four amazing months, thousand of good memories of people, landscapes or just feelings. And of course, I take with me the learning which I didn’t have before.

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Thomas and I were talking about this topic in one of the last days in Estonia and we shared the thought that coming back will always be something marvelous because we left four months of our life here.

Regarding my team mates, actually there is nothing new to say, just say again. Sharing with you these months was a really pleasure. This experience there wouldn’t have been the same without you. Thanks.

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 Good bye, Head aega!

Laura

Bye Bye Estonia, we are missing you.



It’s time to say good bye but we leave behind us wonderful moments, experiences, learning and memories.

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Over these months in Estonia, we’ve met so many people. Amazing people. Each of these people has taught us something. Special reference should be made of people from ELF and local leaders.

We were able to work with local leaders who know remarkably the Estonian nature. They’ve always been willing to answer all of our questions, willing to show us their culture, customs and language. When we gained more experience in working holidays they consulted us and at the same time we support them in logistic, organization and decision making, therefore we always felt comfortable working with them and useful.

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And what can we say about people from ELF! Just, THANK YOU. You’ve always been willing to help us, willing to satisfy our requests.  They were always attentive to us. We can say that you’ve become friends whom we shared very good moments and had very interesting conversations. You already know that if you go to our countries, don’t hesitate to call us and visit us!

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And regarding us, we’ve shared four months, it may seem short time but when you live everyday with the same people these four months become full of moments. Moments that will always be remembered. It’s true that some disagreements arise in decision making within a team but finally we always managed properly. And as is normal you forgive these little troubles and just you keep in your memory good things. Three of us have been our family in Estonia and that’s way we’ll always fondly remember this time here.

Thank you all for following our posts, we hope you enjoyed this adventure.

Yours sincerely,

Laura, Lea and Thomas

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Time to escape for the Estonian winter

This is the end of our 4 months in Estonian and it’s necessary to make my last post to show a short retrospective of this experience.

The beginning of this trip was full of inconnue, the culture the language the weather & the work, all this things were new and stressfull . I feel it’s at the beginning that I learnt a lot about myself for exemple my ability to insert myself in a group of people without speaking the same language. Then my English and the team work became more and more fluid and it was easier to work and exange with people.

I have really enjoyed all the conservation holidays because they were all completely different according to the area where we went and the people as well. The work camp with Estonian people was full of new information about the habitat where we were working or about commun cultural information and way of life. It was really nice to meet Estonian who was nature passionate because it was easy to share and to discuss about it.

The international conservation holidays were great; of course the work was the same but the atmosphere was a bit different than the others camp. First, people were not specialy connected with nature and the reason for which they came in Estonia was simply to discover this country through vonlunteering work and I appreciated this as well because for this moment I felt more in holidays even if we had to work.

To speak a bit about the work in Estonia, the field work is really easy going if you are a bit curious and for the logistic work it was ok as well because of our good tutors and mentors and people from the ELF office who was all the time helpful as possible so thank you for this.

To my team mates; it’s not easy to meet new people when you know you will stay with them 3 or 4 months but in this case it was really simple and our team is became strong very quickly. Thank you Lea and Laura.

Nagamist !

Thomas

Movie

Hello,

We have made a short movie about one of the most important habitat in Estonia. You can find it through the “picture” tab and go down to the page bottom. Enjoy your watching.

Cheers

Helping a rarity in nature

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Next stop after Kabli was the largest island in Estonia, Saarema. Of 185 vascular plants currently included in the national list of protected species, 122 can be found in Saaremaa and on the neighboring islands, and 17 of them are unique in these islands. The rarest plant species here is Saaremaa yellow rattle (Rhinanthus osiliensis), the only endemic species of Saaremaa.

And this little plant that grows in calcareous spring fens and meadows, was the target of our efforts. We worked in Viidumäe Natural Reserve, which was established in 1957 in order to protect rare species of flora and communities, and this consisted of improving habitat to promote growth of Rhinanthus osiliensis. For this purpose three areas were cleared of vegetation, the first was a fen and the two remaining, less wet, were located in the heart of the forest, which by the way, is more beautiful than ever with autumn colors.

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It was certainly a wonderful landscape to work, we enjoyed it so much and we´re happy to have helped this singular plant. 🙂

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Birds are coming!!!

Because of a favourable geographical position in the East Atlantic flyway, millions of birds pass through Estonia in spring and autumn and in the bird trap of Kabli Bird Station have been caught more than 500,000 since 1969. This Station, located in the southwest, is one of two in Estonia where birds are captured to be ringed and to study their migratory habits. And we were very very lucky to be able to collaborate with ornithologists in this activity!!!

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The mouth of the Kabli trap is large and high (about 17m) and almost unvisible. The birds fly into the trap, they are conducted until the end of the trap where there is a cage. Once into the cage, they are ringed and the specie and sex are determined. Then the birds are released. Additionally, there are six nets where the birds are caught. These birds are picked up and the same procedure is performed.

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Almost 1300 birds were ringed by us in two days!!!!

From here, we would like to thank again the people of Kabli Bird Station for allowing us to assist them. It has been a great experience with which we have learnt a lot about birds.

Yum, Yum, Jam!!!

In Palupõhja we spent a sweet weekend making homemade jam. Palupõhja Looduskool was our production centre and at the same time our lodging. It is a nature school located in the Alam-Pedja Nature Reserve.

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This camp is carried out once a year and all produced jam is used to provide this sweet delicacy to all work camps the following year. The preparation is very simple, the basis of this jam is the apple and accompanying ingredients depend exclusively on your imagination!

20140920_201327[1]Being able to add fruits, vegetables, and even chilli! Very popular ingredients are berries. In Estonia there are different types but one of the most coveted are the Cranberrys, which grow wild in bogs (one kind of wetland).

To collect them, we put on waterproof boots and went to the forest in which the house is located. With this sort of activity you are able to directly connect the food you eat with the nature that surrounds you, something that is unfortunately endangered in the 21st century.

And after a weekend making jam, Voilà: 150 jars of delicious homemade jam! As a reward for the hard work each participant could take a jar of jam.

If you want to know how to make delicious jam Estonian style you have to come!

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                                                 Bon Appétit, buen provecho and guten Appetit! 🙂