European Wilderness Volunteer DiaryThe Diary of the European Wilderness Society Volunteers

My on-arrival training

From the 23rd of January until the 26th of January my on-arrival training took place. It was in Vienna.

The group was made out of fifteen volunteers, 12 of us volunteering across Austria and three volunteering in Lichtenstein. The oldest one was almost 30 and the youngest ones (including me) were eighteen. We were a really interesting group coming from very different countries.

During the four days, we learned a lot of different things and most of us became really good friends.

First day, Monday

Around lunchtime everyone started to arrive. We all were a bit shy at first, but soon we all started to loosen up. We talked about our home countries and about some other things.

We met our trainers and we got to know the plan for the following days. The activities revolved around name-learning games which were followed by an outdoor activity of conversation. At the end of the day, it was dinner time and we were all blown away by the quality of the dinner.

Visiting the gasometers while doing our activity

To finalize the day we did a group activity in wich we composed rap songs, dances, took funny pictures and did research on several topics. By the end of the first day, the feeling in the group was really positive and everyone was giving their best to participate as much as they could.


I was really exited about this day. Our trainers introduced us to “Free writing” and to “Qigong“. We talked about our projects and how we are personally doing. Everything was really interactive and creative. It was a great opportunity to express ourselves and our feelings. I personally felt very safe in that environment.

The national Austrian agency visited us and tried to solve some of our questions after lunch.

During the meeting with the national agency

After some more activities regarding “non-violent” communication and “things about Austria”, we divided the group into several smaller ones to organize our communal dinner. We brainstormed the dishes we wanted to cook.

The menu consisted on curry, pumpkin soup, Turkish appetizers and Apfelstrudel.

The evening was really nice and the food we cooked tasted delicious (especially the Turkish dishes). We listened to music and we had loads of fun.


The morning started with some self-reflection activities, Qigong and free-writing. We talked about topics related to physical and mental well-being, about the power of our mindset and about different resources or publications that could be useful during our time in Austria.

Later, we got an introduction regarding the Youthpass; to know how it works and how to make one.

One of the bests part of the training for me, was this afternoon. The activity was called “Exploring-Wien Ralley”.

We made little groups wich had different interests, such as politics, architecture, nature and religion. Our task was to try to explore Vienna searching for things and places that represent our “topic”. We had to upload pictures to a shared paddlet and interview Austrians on the streets.

I chose architecture, and with two other friends we walked all around Vienna. We discovered some pretty amazing buildings and streets. It had been a long time since I had that much fun.

Exploring Vienna with our trainer Bara

After every group finished, we all met up and had dinner. I will never get tired of saying how good that buffet was. To finish off the day, we went out and celebrated the birthday of one volunteer. It was really fun.

Thursday (last day)

No one wanted to realize that it was the last day, especially me. We all had breakfast together and then went to the conference room to have the last round of activities.

We brainstormed our goals for the near, middle and far away future, we played a game of communication and coordination and we learned some techniques on how to take care of ourselves and of others. After this, we had to give feedback to the national agency about the training. I liked that we could also make suggestions and say our sincere opinions.

Finally, we all wrote a little personal message to everyone. This was my favorite part. It simply feels good to read it and to remember the person that wrote it. People started to go and we had some time to say goodbye. It was pretty sad for some of us but it was a memorable moment.

Here we were writing the goodbye letters


It was an amazing experience. I am really grateful to have been able to have such a nice time and to have met so many incredible people. I also learned a lot from it. I has really inspired me.

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