The first time I heard about workaway was in Edinburgh, talking with a french pal telling me how she saved money and met people while travelling. I was not very focused back then because we were having a party at a pecular place.
But soon, I heard about it again while my airbnb hosts talked to me about this nice young men who babysat there children for 2 month while wandering in the country side of Sweden, looking for the permaculture village and off-grid solutions. They were delighted by the experience and advised me to think about it.
It seemed like a good deal, indeed : volunteer for 3 or 4 hours a day, have a place to stay, sometimes food and be able to visit arround, plus have a chance to live with the locals, the true meaning of slow travelers to my opinion.
My best workaway experience was at a language Café in Busan. My mission was to talk in english with people, « my students« . Soon we started to talk about there lives, there dreams and fears, migration, dating, education, movies, colors, what they thought about there country, there culture and how they navigated in this fast-moving world. We also talked about Madagascar and France, my experience as a girl in the middle, travelling alone and far from my family. Many asked about my love life, which made me uncomfortable but which is a normal question for koreans. And we talked a lot about food : a recurring concern for everybody I guess.
During those sessions, I portraited each and everyone of « my students ».
Faces of South Korea – summer 2017
Some of them were willing to travel easier after, or improve their resume. There were salarymen and salarywomen, willing to improve their skills; some were retired people looking for company, talking about korea, before, and how they were thrilled by this new generation and young people; a young woman who was refusing surgery, trying to accept her body the way it was; another one was studying archeology and very found of japanese fashion; some were artists ; there were beginners and confirmed eglish speakers ; a very shy young man who he wanted to become a pro-gamer and needed english ; one of them was 7 years old, with her little sister, they came and talked to me about Moana the movie, how beautiful they thought she was and that they wanted to travel also, just like her, just like me.
Some of them became close friends, with whom we visited museum, had delicious korean food (top 3 on my list), and just hang out with.
Most of them came with open heart and a thirst to improve.
There was also a community of volunteers living together at the Big house and the small house, as we used to call them. Our place was like holiday camp. We had an ice-cream shop at the corner of the street which was brandly new and selling popsicle half-price for the opening month. A part of the life was also about visiting the city, shopping around, take part to cultural and spiritual events, and have some basic koreanlanguage lessons.
We shared real human experiences, and I am so grateful for that.
Workaway’s process is pretty simple : create an account on the website (but I guess there are other plateform available, I just did not look them yet), pay a fee about 35-42 USD, fill your profile like a resume, look for places or activities you would like to do. Most missions are with youth hostels, guest houses, farms and language exchanges. You can also find yoga places, help family or elder people, pet animals and many other things.
But Workaway is a plateform only. What you NEED is to carefully read reviews : if you can, ask someone who has been there before, ask them about the good AND the bad stuff. Keep in mind, no money should be involved with your host and Pay extra attention for countries that requieres special visa even for volunteers. #TravelSafe
==> Here is a very detailed and well written articles about workaway and alternative plateform, from Fin Nomads