Time to go, winter is coming

I don’t know where to begin, it’s really hard to describe how I’m feeling now. One part of me wants to go home, but the other part doesn’t want to leave Estonia which had been my home in the last months. Looking back on this time makes me glad that I chose this project and country.

One of our first task: building greenhouses for toads in Penijõe. (Photo by Lena Blumenberg)

I can recommend European Voluntary Service for everyone. The first thing it’s basically free: the flight tickets, accommodation, food and the insurance is covered by the European Commission. You can live in an another country, do something positive, learn about yourself and make new friends. It’s truly a unique opportunity and every young people should do it. One of the best decisions of my life!

International group on a kiiking swing In Lahemaa NP. (Photo by Lily Thibaut)

Before coming here I was living in Budapest and although I was never really into nature, I really wanted to make a change from city life to something that’s more connected to nature. Coming here was a great choice because I feel I got really close to nature, we traveled all around a country visiting beautiful landscapes and restoring habitats for different kind of animal species.

I learned a lot during our working holidays, for example how to use and fix a chainsaw and a brush cutter. Also about nature conservation and semi-natural habitats and animal species. Not to mention Estonian culture and history.I discovered about myself that I’m a sauna enthusiasts. A hot sauna next to a nice cold lake or stream in the forest is a sanctuary for the body and the soul. 

Running with burning juniper. (Photo by Peter Reeve)

I think ELF is doing a great job with organizing talgud. It’s a great way for involve people in nature conservation, and for participants to meet other people and discover new places. All camps were special in a way, but the international ones were my favorite because they are longer and have more time to make a team. Also it’s a great experience meeting people from around the world. This experience really opened up the world for me. ELF did a great job about our project as well, most of the things went very smoothly, I had nothing to complain about, they were always very helpful.

Blueberry face painting on Vormsi island. (Photo by Peter Reeve)

So here’s a suur-suur aitäh for everyone who have been cool to us in the past 6 months: to the guys working at ELF who had made this all possible for us and helped us during our service, to our mentors who have been always kind and helpful to us, to the local Estonian camp leaders and volunteers with whom – I really hope – we made some positive difference in the nature.

Making new friends at Kabli Bird Station. (Photo by Tauri Tampuu)

I have to go home now, but I’m sure it’s not my last time here in this charming country. I have to come back to see the Estonian winter and to try your saunas in when there’s snow and ice everywhere.

I say goodbye with my favorite Estonian singer 😀

Last talgud and sharing experiences with youngsters

Our voluntary service is coming to the end, so we had our last talgud in Pudisoo (Lahemaa NP) where the camp leaders gathered around to share their experiences about the finishing season.  We are not strangers in Pudisoo: this was our fourth time there, we had worked a lot to restore the river for the freshwater pearl mussel during the summer.

Last stroll in Lahemaa National Park. (Photo by Bálint Pinke)

Before this talgud we also gave two presentations for youngsters about EVS in general and about our voluntary project in Estonia. The first one was in a high school, the second was in the Tartu’s environmental education center. It was a good experience to speak in public about our work. We hope that we inspired a few of the kids in the audience to volunteer in an other country and in Estonia as well.

Talking about our work in front of a class. (Photo by Triin Nõu)

Ringing birds at Kabli Bird Station

After the mid-term training we went straight to Kabli Bird Station, where we helped out for the next three days. The station is near the Latvian border, and also near Nigula bog where we have already spent a few day on talgud. The station is used to study the autumn migration of birds from the end of August until the beginning of November.

Marisol is extricating a blue tit out of the net. (Photo by Bálint Pinke)

After catching a bird, first you have to remove it from the trap as soon as possible. Then you have to determine the species, gender, age, weight, the length of the wings and only after these you can put the ring on the leg of the bird. The first day was a record number with ringing 600 birds, but on the next day it was even more with almost 700.

Mid-term training in Kloogaranna

Our EVS mid-term training took place in Kloogaranna Youth Camp next to the sea from 20th to 22nd of September. The aim of this training was to share bad and good experiences with the other volunteers and the trainer. We had a lot of different exercise to think about our project and life in Estonia, how to embrace our situation in our work and learn about ourself.

Also on the second day we took a big hike along the seashore which is a paradise for birds.  The training was also a great way to meet with our fellow volunteer friends who we have met on the arrival training.

Our group. (Photo by Laura Garcia)