Giorgia, 30 years old from Italy. ESC project at “EHPAD Mariama” for 10 months
The departure to France
Hello everyone, I am Giorgia and I am a clinical psychologist from the province of Parma.
Last year I decided to leave because I was not at all satisfied with my professional situation… I needed to make an experience only for myself, change my daily routine, learn to know me better and really learn a foreign language!
I arrived in France with an ESC Project in November 2020 and I lived with two other Spanish volunteers in Anglet, Southwest of France. Here, the pandemic situation was rather quiet, there were few covid cases and, despite the lockdown was still active in France, we could move to nearby cities or walk by the ocean.
Anglet: the Basque dream
Nicknamed ‘Little California’ because of its mentality, art of living and surfing culture, Anglet is a natural, sporty and dynamic town. This commune of 39.000 inhabitants is located between the two famous cities Bayonne and Biarritz, at only 30 km from Spain. Anglet is renowned for its beaches (like the House of Love), the enormous “Chiberta pine forest” and the opportunity to enjoy plenty of entertainment and outdoor activities: swimming, surfing, skateboarding, golf, cycling, treetop adventures, beach volleyball, beach rugby, horse riding, basque pelota, and many more!
I’ve really loved this part of France and I’ve visited so many different places with other volunteers: the typical villages of the Pays Basque with all the local products (Bayonne’s chocolate and ham, Basque cream cake, Itxassou’s black cherry jam, sheep cheese, Irouléguy’s wines or Espelette’s red chillies…!), remarkable natural sites such as the nearby coast of the Landes, the Rhune, the Caves of Sare and Iraty Forest, outstanding museums and historic monuments like Bayonne Cathedral, the Basque Museum, the Château d’Abbadia and much, much more!
Helping the elderly
My project run in the EHPAD MARIAMA (Accommodation Establishment for Dependent Elderly Person) and primarily concerned working with people that couldn’t live alone anymore since they have lost their ability to perform daily activities or because they’re suffering from a pathology. My principal role was to collaborate with the professional animator of the residence to promote the social and cultural life and also well-being of residents. Predominantly female, the residents were 85 years old and some of them still loved and practiced archery! The activities were mainly playful, artistic, expressive, and motor like gentle-gym, pet-therapy, rearrangement of the internal garden, preparation of the festivities’ decorations. You couldn’t certainly get bored, and the contact with these people was special every day, from the top of their life experiences, including international travels, as most of them were ex missionary nuns.
This project is a unique opportunity to experience a truly specific context, to reflect with unique people and to enjoy so much kindness.