Blog Olivia, An ESC experience in Almere

ESC volunteer Olivia Allen
ESC volunteer Olivia Allen

I was told that this year would go fast. I still didn’t expect it to go this quickly though! I can honestly say this has been one of the best years of my life. Not only have I gained experience in an area I’m interested in, but I’ve also met some amazing people and made friendships I know I’ll cherish forever.

Working with animals and those that love them

With four different departments throughout the year there was a lot to learn and a short time to learn it. Just as everything starts to become routine you move off to the next department to start afresh! But with that comes another fantastic team of people, new animals, and more things you can improve on. Passing through you can see the progress of the animals from when they first arrive and first meet another animal, to when they move off to their next home. Along with this you get the chance to meet all of the other caretakers of AAP who all have so much knowledge to share. I felt so inspired and welcome within every team.  

Hard work, and a great social life!
Hard work, and a great social life!

Barbecues and movie nights

Beginning my ESC in the summer meant a lot of barbecues, days at the beach, swims in the lake and more hummus, beer and bread than I want to admit. As the winter crept upon us, the days outside faded away and we all started our semi-hibernation, but that meant more games, take-aways and movie nights. With eight other ESC in the same position, with the same budget and similar interests we often found things to do together; concerts, markets, live music, bike rides, festivals, visiting nearby areas, and making the most of holiday celebrations. By taking all opportunities I never had a boring week nor a day there wasn’t something to highlight on.

Amsterdam in winter
The Netherlands and what it has to offer...

For me this was my first time in Europe so everything was new and interesting. Never have I seen a country so flat! I missed the hills and mountains but as soon as I got on my bike I was very grateful for the lack of them and the abundance of bike lanes. With many parks and forests nearby there was no lack of green areas and the birds, deer and rabbits definitely made the most of this. Trains to other areas were regular and easy to figure out so exploring the rest of the country made some good weekend trips. On top of that Germany and Belgium are not far, making it possible to visit them for a day trip especially if you have a car available. I loved the cities and the towns with a lot of impressive old architecture and of course many wind mills. The people were lovely, the beer cheap, and the tulips beautiful. The only negative was my inability to learn Dutch as everyone’s English was so good!

Don’t miss out!

Doing an ESC at AAP is a once in a lifetime opportunity that you should not miss! It’s not only for those who want to work with animals but anyone who wants to meet new people, develop themselves and have a great time while doing so. Be open to all and embrace every opportunity, you won’t regret it.

Olivia Allen, ESC volunteer 2018-2019