Hanna Aasmundtveit, 22 years old, from Norway. ESC at Lycée Agricole et Rural Privé de Soule (LARPS) in Mauléon for 10 months.
Where did you do your project? What did it consist of?
The project took place at an agricultural high school in the countryside in the Basque Country. My job was mainly to assist the English teachers and have conversations with the students so they could practice their spoken English. I also assisted the teachers on field trips and gave English lessons to some of the teachers. I chose to play a lot of games with the students to make it less intimidating and more fun to practice English. As I helped them with their English, my French improved a lot as well. The school also has dog training classes and pet store classes, so the school has a small kennel and animals you find in pet stores. One of the many cool things I got to experience while working at the school was a pregnant dog giving birth to puppies.
How did covid affect your experience?
Almost my entire stay in France was affected by strict covid-regulations like lockdowns and curfews at night. It was difficult because I lived at the school with only one other volunteer and the covid-restrictions made it difficult to meet locals and make friends. Therefore, when it was allowed, we spent the weekends together with other volunteers. However, I was lucky to live in the countryside so that during lockdowns I wasn’t stuck inside my appartement, but I could go for walks outside in the forest and hills that surrounded the school.
What was the best part of your experience?
Meeting all the other volunteers was the best part of my experience. We became great friends, and they could understand the difficulties and culture crashes I was experiencing as well since they were in the same situation as me. Since I lived in a very small village with covid-restrictions they were the only people my age I could be with in my free time, and they were very important for my wellbeing and happiness. We hiked mountains, went to the beach, visited Basque villages, and went camping. Even though we missed a lot due to Covid, we learned to really take advantage of the limited time we had together and make the most out of it.