Benjamin’s Volunteer Experience in Spain – Hello Barcelona!

Posted by: Benjamin K.

I jumped off the plane, from freezing Berlin, four hours later than expected – after what they described as an ‘’indefinite delay’’ – and relief washed over me as I was confronted by some particularly beautiful weather! I could not believe it, it was the middle of autumn and yet felt just like the loveliest summer; this was the cause for my very first smile. The rest would materialise in torrents as I checked in to HelloBCN and began my adventure at the Eco-friendly Hospitality Internship in Barcelona project. I was greeted with such friendly happy faces and suddenly realized I am home for the next 6 weeks.

From this point on, my time in Barcelona continued to get better and better! I had been once before with my family eight years prior, however exploring this city on my own, with my new friends and for the extended period of time was a whole new, incredible experience. I absolutely fell in love with the city, from the historical centres to the modernist tower, from the art to the architecture, and from the sport to the sand and sun; Barcelona really does have it all! I could have easily spent ten times my allotted slot in that bustling city!

It was this day-to-day lifestyle that really made the experience so unbelievably exciting. I managed to get into a routine, always based in and around the hostel (HelloBCN), sight-seeing, gallery visiting, touring and then almost as often laying on the beach for a good, few recuperation hours. My day would usually begin slowly with the hostel breakfast, which I would run perhaps once a week. This was really not too bad a task, even though it carried a stigma, probably as the result of the seven o’ clock wake up. It was easy, putting all the food, cutlery and crockery out, before helping yourself and chatting to the various guests, all the while just making sure everything is running as it should be.

After this, there were a few administrative tasks to get done in the next 30 minutes or so – these were wake-up calls for the guests leaving as well as cleaning up from the meal. I would then usually head out for a jam-packed day of sightseeing, meeting up with friends or even a day trip out of the city for a good few hours. A few times I even joined some guests I had met at breakfast! At around four or five, I would usually head back to the hostel for a quick run, usually up Monjuic hill – basically HelloBCN’s backyard – before coming down to chief the bar shift maybe 3 nights a week. This was definitely my favourite of all the duties we were allotted.  There would usually be a 30 minute setting up period before a booming beginning of the daily happy hour, and from there the night begins. The shift would typically last from 7 until 12 where I would put on my playlists, serve drinks, and chat to a variety of travellers from a multiplicity of places and spaces!

After the closing time I would sometimes then relax, or alternatively head on out to one of the most exciting European nightlives I have ever experienced! The duties we were prescribed were restricted to 5 a week, but were relatively flexible in that most of the time one of the other three volunteers was very happy to switch duties or days.

It was these other volunteer though, that added so much to my experience! I absolutely loved living with three other like-minded individuals, with such similar mind sets, although completely different backgrounds. I got on particularly well with a few of them and I am certain we will remain friends for a real while longer. Apart from the other volunteers though, I really enjoyed working with the permanent staff there too – I’m not exactly sure how HelloBCN does it but they manage to hand pick the absolute best. Although I would guess it is as a result of the manager’s absolute passion for this project. She too was incredible to work with continuously driven and yet still very understanding.

I really had anticipated loving the city as well as my experience there, although I completely underestimated it! I got way more involved than I had previously imagined and certainly more than what was ‘necessary’, although this was entirely out of my own desire. My experience was the epitome of the age old adage ‘the more you put it the more you get out’. I really grew and developed from this experience at the same time as having some of the most exciting times of my life!