Before coming to Sussex, I spent three months in Ethiopia doing volunteer work in a school and orphanage in a small town. Living away from home with no-one I knew for that long was hard, but what made it all seem worth while was the feeling that I was making a small, but important impact. I can relate my days in Ethiopia to starting University; it seems to be that at this point, lots of us beginners have entered the “freshers blues” in which we can feel isolated, lonely, stressed or bored.
In Ethiopia, I found it hard to adjust to the new environment of living with a host family who spoke little English; food I had never imagined, a new culture, and the constant reminder of poverty by the vast numbers of homeless street children. Although not as drastic of a change in environment as this, the change from home to University is still tough and it’s hard to find ways to feel comfortable.
During my placement, at times I felt like my work wasn’t going well and all I could think about was how much I missed home. By taking the initiative and making projects in my placement, such as setting extra English writing tasks for the children, I felt like I had more purpose and days became easier! This experience made me start Sussex with an attitude to just get involved and help out. That’s what I’ve done and feel better for it! I’ve become a student rep, am volunteering at SCOOP, and am about to start training to be a volunteer for the “Time to change’ mental health campaign.
So if your feeling the blues, or want to feel like your making an impact, its never too late to make a difference, even if its only an hour a week!
Isabella Di Stefano