Internet is cool,

Therefore I made a a blog.

9 months as a Panda

Or the lasts words of my volunteering in Latvia.

Me sitting on the edge of a building's roof

In March 2019, I decided to quit my boring job in France and go for this 9 months project in Rīga: from April 1st to my birthday, December 31st, I was going to be a European Volunteer for the youth studio BaMbuss and BRF. I didn't expect much when I packed to come to Latvia, I was just looking for a change, to go somewhere I don't know.

The Youth Studio BaMbuss looked cool, Līga and Dasha friendly and easy-going, and their warning about the cold weather and the long nights made me more curious than afraid.

I discovered a city full of wonders, and a country with a unique vibe: very different from my Mediterranean/mountainous home, back in the Pyrénées. I always have been used to have giant peaks in my eyesight, you can imagine how surprised I was when I noticed that nothing of the kind waited for me behind the huge forests of Latvia.

A friend in the middle of a bunker's graveyard
A firewatch tower in an autum's forest
A sightseeing tower in Kemeri national park

I was surprised, but not disappointed! Some hikes all around the country taught me to love the country: Behind every tree, there's a beautiful landscape, and usually a lake.

It's super hard to be bored here in Latvia. During the summer's week-ends, I was camping around with my friends, and when Autumn and Winter came, the camping week-ends turned into hikes. During the weekdays, my work at BaMbuss with Borche and Maya kept me busy: Between the board game-related event I organised, the Eurodesk activities and my paperwork for BRF, I used my creativity to decorate the studio (Līga, I hope you'll take care of my panda mask, even if it's taking the dust, up there).

Friends playing in one of my board game event
Friends playing in one of my board game event

Those 9 months felt like one week: I met amazing people from all over Europe, discovered Latvia and the Baltic region as I would never have if I was a tourist. I improved my photography skills a lot and I tried things and managed things in the youth studio that I would have never done in France.

I learned not to be afraid to be spontaneous, that it's possible to create a board game, how fast a shoe can melt if you put it too close to a bonfire, and that Latvians are happy and kind; they just don't know how to smile.

I'm heavily grateful that the Pandas choose me for this European Solidarity Corps project. Latvia and Rīga now have a specific spot in my heart, and I would 100% do it again if I had the chance to.

A friend looking at Notre Dame's painting in Helsinki's art museum
Me in a friend in Vilnius