"A Different Kind of Independence"

A volunteer interview with Hailey Wahlberg on her trip to North Devon, England.

What drew you to volunteer in the first place?

I wanted to do something different from my peers – many were getting jobs or returning to school to continue their education. I wanted to explore a new country, simplify my life and learn more about myself.

I knew that a year abroad was exactly what I needed and applying to Lattitude allowed me to pursue my passion for volunteering. It also gave me the stability of a secure placement and accommodation in a foreign country.

While this was not my first visit to the UK, spending an extended period of time living and working in England allowed for me to really immerse myself in the culture and customs of the country and people.

Why did you pick the UK?

I have always had a soft spot for the country famous for their tea and scones, accents and Royal family!

Can you describe you placement in detail? 

I volunteered as a Gap Student at a private boarding school in North Devon. I worked in the classrooms of the Junior School (Kindergarten to Grade 6) and the girl’s boarding house, where I had morning, night and weekend duties to monitor the house activities and ensure organization and safety.

I was given my own bedroom with an en-suite bathroom located in the girls’ boarding house. There were also three meals a day from the dining hall and I was even paid a monthly honorarium.

The staff and students made me feel right at home, and welcomed me with open arms. I was able to make friends with both staff and students, easily finding common ground with the upper year students. 

How did you cope with the big differences between the UK and home?

I found the accent and foreign currency to be the greatest challenges at times. I tried to think of it as a learning opportunity and not get too stressed out. With time, I was able to adapt to my surroundings.

What do you think was your favourite memory? 

The opportunity to travel during the holidays and school breaks was amazing! I was fortunate enough to travel on my own and with friends to 18 European countries outside of England. I had a wonderful time getting lost in cobbled streets, museums and galleries, speaking foreign languages and indulging in one too many scoops of gelato.

What are you doing now? 

I graduated from my undergraduate degree prior to my volunteer placement and I finished my year abroad by travelling through Europe during the summer months before returning home to Vancouver. I have recently started work as a Production Assistant for an online news network.

Hailey travelled to the UK in 2017.