“It made perfect sense for me to experience something of this dimension, in a different country, travelling alone and volunteering for the first time”

The sixth edition of the European Universities Games, one of the largest multi-sport events in Europe, happened in Lodz, Poland during 15 days – the closing ceremony was on Saturday – and attracted student-athletes from more than 20 sports from all across Europe.

Mariana Figueiredo, SEA’s Volunteer, had the opportunity to be part of this event as a volunteer. So, we decided to chat with her to know how the experience went on.

How did you find out about this volunteer position and what motivated you to apply?

I found out because Pedro shared the information about this Game on a group on a platform I am in, in which all the sports events that need volunteers are shared. I’ve decided to apply because it was an event that included several sports, the conditions offered were excellent (accommodation, full board and free transport) and the application process was quite simple. Besides this, taking into account that my course is Sports Science, it made perfect sense for me to experience something of this dimension, in a different country, travelling alone and volunteering for the first time.

What has been your role as a volunteer and what have you learned so far? 

The role as a volunteer focuses a lot on supporting the athletes and officials, whether it’s solving management problems, in which we act as intermediate to pass info to them or in terms of cleaning the fields. These functions are specific to the area where I was allocated, tennis and basketball.

For tennis, I had to clear the court and sweep the lines at the end of the matches (clay courts) and change the boards with the names of the universities when the matches were over. In basketball, I collected the bottles at the end of the games and cleaned the court when it was wet (and when a player fell).

However, I ended up working little and watched the games while talking to other volunteers. And there yes, I think it was a huge asset because the networking and contacts I ended up doing were really good, with people from various countries, from different backgrounds, but somehow linked to sport.

What have you enjoyed the most about this experience so far? Do you have any story or special moment that has particularly impacted you that you can share with us? 

Without a doubt the possibility to meet so many people from different cultures and what motivated them to participate in this event. At the same time, the fact I was able to live experience an already high level of sport and live 2 weeks outside of my comfort zone.

About special stories, I keep them to myself, highlighting only the fact that they all came to confirm how small the world is and that we always find someone connected to our city or who knows someone we have worked with and, above all, it confirmed my proud in being Portuguese and knowing that wherever I go there will always be Portuguese people who will welcome me and make me feel integrated.

It’s your first time in Lodz, Poland. Do you have or will have time to visit? What is your impression of the city so far?

I had time to visit the city as well as experience the nightlife. It’s a big city, quite clean (polish people care a lot about recycling) and the accessibility in terms of transport is very good.

You have some nice things to see, mainly a very famous street with everything in terms of leisure. I also visited Warsaw and I liked the most typical area, the rest was very commercial. Overall you have nice places, the parks are well looked after, but there is nothing amazing in the cities. The food is undoubtedly what falls short, especially for those coming from Portugal. I really missed eating fish or simply a ‘canja’ (typical soup from Portugal). They put sauce on everything, which ends up spoiling the natural flavour of the food.

Note: This interview happen while Mariana was still in Poland, Lodz

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