Volunteer Experience: Guilio

Like a modern jules verne, I took my trip to the center of England, because if you draw a line from Manchester to Cambridge, one from London to Edinburgh and another from Liverpool to Norwich, these meet in Nottingham. There is no better place to start exploring England: with a few hours of travel you can get to the big cities like London, Liverpool, Birmingham, Manchester or Newcastle, or discover the Peak district and Yorkshire, or even look for "lost things" in Norfolk.

And Igloo hostel is the perfect base for this kind of adventure: it's like finding a second family away from home, they all do the possible to put you at ease, starting from the managers, passing through the workers up to the volunteers like me.

As in a family, share everything: space, food, thoughts, adventures, beautiful moments (many) and ugly ones (very few). At this moment we are five volunteers, we come from different parts of the world, with different cultures and different habits, but being there together it makes you realize that we are actually more equal than you can imagine.

For all of us this is the first experience of life (even if only for a few months) away from home, and Nottingham we can say that she has adopted us and like a mother is teaching us many things that will be part of us in the future. Every evening we gather and cook together some specialties from our countries of origin (Italy, Colombia, Japan, Spain and France) and we watch some movies (strictly in English) or go to have a beer in one of the many pubs that can be found around here.

I had arrived to stay a month and a half, but immediately I decided to extend my stay: I was looking for only a new experience for learning English, but I found a lot more!

Volunteer Experience: Manuela

Hi there!

I’m a Colombian volunteer in Igloo Hostel.

You may ask why and how a Colombian girl ended up volunteering in a hostel located 8500 km away from her home city. Many people have asked me why I decided to change the lovely weather of my city, between 20 to 25⁰C all year round as there are no seasons, and a very warm culture for the English freezing and windy autumns/winters. Well, I decided to come to the UK to study my master’s degree at the University of Nottingham and after a year of new experiences, including seeing snow for the first time (just to mention one), I realised I had fell in love with this city and decided to stay a little bit longer.

I love the student/relaxed atmosphere of the city. Everybody is friendly and willing to ask you about your traditions, family and even eager to learn your language and culture.

I found out that I could volunteer in a hostel and even though I was sceptic at the beginning this place has become my new home! I have had the chance to meet so many people from different backgrounds, to experience countless cultures and to enjoy my staying in the UK even more intensely than I had in the whole previous year!

So far, the most memorable experience has been meeting my international, non-blood related family! With you: the volunteer’s team: Spain, France, Colombia, Italy and Japan.

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What a mixture right? We have created such a lovely bond taking care of each other, traveling, partying and specially cooking together!

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I have enjoyed every trip, event in the city, movie night or stupid pranks we do to ourselves every day.  This has become my new life and I’m sure this family will last forever without mattering how far we are from each other.

So, why would I want to leave Nottingham? this place has brought to my life good experiences, love and  valuable friends! Just have a look…

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Volunteer Experience: Alexandra

Hey everyone!

My name is Alexandra, I’m 20 and I’m French. I came in England to improve my English. I chose this option to be in touch with lots of people and of course because the concept is very nice: you have to work just 4hours/day and you’re accommodated. It’s funny and sporting, you clean bedrooms, bathrooms, and kitchens… you have to garden also. All tasks are very diversified. The rest of the time, you’re free, so you can visit, practise sports (Formula One, best gym ever), discover a new culture and new people.

I didn’t choose Nottingham, the opportunity presented itself, but if I had to go back it’s obvious. The city isn’t big but it’s really cute and you have lots of good places to eat (all type of food: vegan, Korean, typical English…), to do shopping (charity markets, famous brands…). The life here isn’t expensive and I was really surprise to see how the city is safe. You can hanging out later and nobody troubles you.

I stay here for 6 weeks. I share my room with 3 roommates. They aren’t French so it’s really interesting because I’m obliged to speak English with them. Igloo Hostel is the coolest place to stay, rooms are lovely and you have a kitchen, you can meet people and be more autonomous. It is situated 5min from the biggest shopping centre, the streets have lots of markets too and they close later. 

So, when would you like to come ?!

Alexandra x

Volunteer Experience: Anja

After I finished school last year, I've always wanted to spend some time working and travelling around the UK. 

But sometimes it's more difficult than you think to find a hostel which takes volunteers. Back in Germany, I spent ages in front of my laptop, writing E-mails to differnt hostels in the UK, but most of the time didn't even get an answer. That is why I was all the more happy to hear that I could volunteer at the Igloo Hostel in Nottingham. 

Many people ask me, why I came especially to Nottingham and didn't go to bigger places like London etc. But I want to use my time in the UK to explore smaller places, which maybe don't come to somebody's mind in the first place when thinking about the UK, because I believe there is so much more to discover in this country. And Nottingham is great! 

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The work here at the hostel is quite easy, only four hours a day, which leaves a lot of freetime to discover the city and the sourroundings. I just completed my second week here and I've already seen a lot of beautiful places and met so many friendly people. 

Besides visiting Nottingham Castle and Wollaton Hall, I spend almost one whole day in the "Galleries of Justice" Museum and "City of Caves", which was very fascinating and a good opportunity to learn a lot about Great Britian's and Nottingham's history. While walking through the ancient caves and passageways, the tour guide of the "City of Caves" told us a lot about how the inhabitants of Nottingham lived and worked in those sandstone caves from the 11th century on. The caves where used even until the 1940's, mostly recunstructed as air raid shelters during the second world war. 

My favourite place I've visited so far is Newstead Abbey. Newstead Abbey is the ancestral home of the poet Lord Byron and a really beautiful big house with a lovely garden. To go there I took the train (Newstead is only to stops away from Nottingham) and then had to walk there for about 30 minutes. Even though (or just because) the weather was really bad (it was cold and it rained all the time; there was even some snow on the streets) I enjoyed the walk towards Newstead Abbey a lot. It was kind of adventurous to make my way through the flooded and muddy streets; and the advantage: I had the garden all for my own, because no one wanted to take a stroll at this weather except for me. 

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But there are also smaller places in Nottingham like bars or cafes, which are nice to visit. I enjoyed a Tuesday evening at The Bodega Social Bar tryintg to answer the challenging questions of the weekly Music Quiz and listened to funny and fascinating stories told by the "Storytellers of Nottingham" at the Malt Cross. 

So there is a lot to do in Nottingham and I can't wait to explore even more in the four weeks that are left of my volunteer experience at the Igloo Hostel. 

Anja

Volunteer Experience - Nina

Written by one of our volunteers Nina who will be heading to Germany soon *sad face*, she has been a great member of our team and we are going to miss her dearly! She has spent the past 3 months here at Igloo, so if you wanted to know more about volunteering here, read on..

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Back in July, when I decided to volunteer in the UK, I never would have thought it would be so hard for me to go back home!! However, before I leave Nottingham for good, I want to explain the reason why working at Igloo Hostels changed my view on many things.

During my stay in the hostel I met a lot of interesting people from all over the world. They told me about their journeys and their experiences in travelling. They kind of encouraged me to try it myself. So, I went around in Great Britain: to Liverpool, Dublin, Manchester, Cardiff and some other places. I really enjoyed seeing new things, taste new foods and meet various people in the hostels I’ve stayed. However, it always felt like coming home when I came back to the Igloo Hostel after one of my journeys. The people working there are amazing!! The work is not as hard as I expected, and I had enough free time to discover the city and its nightlife. For example, the Arboretum with all the cute squirrels, Wollaton Hall, the Museum of Nottingham Life, Sherwood Forest with the big oak tree, Newstead Abbey and the museum inside the castle. I also spend a lot of time with all the lovely volunteers who make the hostel a warm and welcoming place. Even though life will probably take me to many other beautiful places, I will never forget my time in Nottingham. Cheers for the precious memories!!   

Tarrah thenn!!

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Volunteer's Experience of Igloo

Written by one of our lovely volunteers Taru who will be heading home to Finland soon *sad face*, we are going to miss her so much! She has spent the past 3 months living and working here at Igloo, so if you wanted to know more about volunteering and living here, read on..

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I spent three months as a volunteer at Igloo Hostel as a part of my university course, which required me to do an internship in a country where English is the main language of communication. I couldn’t possibly be happier with my decision to do this at Igloo Hostel Nottingham; I had an amazing summer and will remember it for the rest of my life.

I applied for the position online, and took part in a fairly informal Skype interview. From the very first contact with the hostel, I felt very warmly welcomed, everyone I talked to was extremely nice, and all the arrangements were quickly done. When I finally arrived, other volunteers as well as other members of staff helped me settle in and instantly made me feel like home. The hostel provides free dorm accommodation to its volunteers as well as a weekly breakfast allowance. Personally, I was slightly worried about staying in a dormitory for three months, but in the end only ended up enjoying it!

Usually most volunteers work around twenty hours a week, but due to my university’s requirements, I worked slightly more. My tasks at work were extremely varied, which made the work very interesting and enjoyable. Some of my shifts were cleaning shifts, which includes general cleaning, changing the beds, doing laundry, and that sort of thing. Quite often my tasks also consisted of running all kinds of errands, welcoming and showing guests to their rooms, taking payments, doing check-ins and check-outs, as well as doing night shifts and being in charge of the emergency phone during the night. Most of the volunteers work in both hostels (Annexe & Pods and Hybrid), which adds even more versatility to the job.

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I enjoyed my tasks, but the best part about Igloo is the people that work for the hostel. The volunteers have a very close-knit community, and they spend a lot of time together. It could almost be considered a sort of a family, so working for Igloo is also an amazing opportunity to meet new people from various and different backgrounds. New volunteers always receive a warm welcome from both the volunteers and other staff, so it is fair to say that no one could possibly feel lonely or left out here, and there is surely people to spend time with. As well as volunteers, all other people working for Igloo are just absolutely lovely, helpful and always up for a chat. In addition to the staff, the lovely guests we get also make the stay in Igloo enjoyable. In short, it’s always nice to meet new great people from around the world!

Volunteers usually get two days off every week, so there is plenty of time to explore the city as well as the surrounding areas even while working. The location of Nottingham is unbeatable, and one of the reasons why I chose this city for my internship. I have spent a lot of time in the United Kingdom the past few years and have friends around here, and Nottingham’s location makes it easy to get basically everywhere in the UK without taking ages on a bus or a train. There are loads of interesting cities within 2 hours train ride, so doing a day trip from Nottingham to another English city is easy. For instance, Manchester, London, Leeds and Birmingham are easily reached from Nottingham, as well as the beautiful Peak District.

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Nottingham itself also has a lot to offer. I’ve found the people in Nottingham to be extremely nice and chatty, and as a language student, I love it that Nottingham has a quite distinct dialect of its own. When it comes to things to do, Nottingham has a castle, loads of caves, quite a few nice museums, and Wollaton Hall that was used in The Dark Knight Rises as the Wayne Manor. What I most love about Nottingham is that it’s not a huge city, but not too small either, and there’s basically always something going on. The nightlife is vibrant, and we have a lot of quirky and unconventional places to have a meal or drink at. For example, you could enjoy a Sunday meal inside a cave at Hand & Heart, or have a pint inside a former church at Pitcher & Piano, or inside a Victorian Music Hall at Malt Cross (which also has a great tour that tells you about the history of the place!). Nottingham also has loads of independent cafés and stores with loads of character, which is something I really like.

In conclusion, I really enjoyed my summer in Nottingham and with Igloo. I made some great new friends both inside and outside the hostel, and am sure to return to Nottingham at some point. I would recommend both Nottingham and Igloo to everyone who’s interested in sort of a working holiday in a lovely city with a great atmosphere!

Taru, Finland

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