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On-Arrival Training in Alsasua

At the end of July, Mert, Lucia and I (Evelina) left to go to our on-arrival training which was held in Navarra in the north of Spain. Along with a group of 25 other volunteers from 15 countries who were placed all over Spain, we were going to spend the next coming six days together in a hostel in the small town of Alsasua, right on the border to the Basque country.

Eager to get away and hopeful for what the week would have in store for us, we left early in the morning to catch the train on time. Despite some minor mishaps with a left behind phone and a little more stress than necessary we soon found ourselves aboard the train to Madrid (just like planned!). In Madrid we then took the train to Pamplona where we were picked up by a charted bus that drove us to Alsasua.

Having got quite used to the climate and some sunny 35 degrees in Alzira, our initial reaction was a rather peculiar one of feeling relatively cold in the fresh and humid air in Navarra (it is not everyday a Swede complains about the weather being cold when it is 23 degrees outside).

Having settled into our rooms and quickly unpacked, we got a brief orientation about the week’s programme and some ice-breaking activities to help us getting to know each other. Along with all the information we also had to draw two names from a hat, one pink and one red. The pink name was your secret friend for the week that you had to be extra friendly to. The red one, was instead a person you had to “kill” (obviously not for real but in a game) by kissing the person on the cheek when no one else saw. Mert unfortunately got killed first, because he went out to smoke directly afterwards. Me and Lucia devised an intricate plan on how to win the game a la hunger games style by cooperating and never leave each others side. Unfortunately it did not quite work out, and we saw ourselves defeated with two days to go.

Every day started with breakfast at 8.30 followed by the day´s programme of activities, some of which included teambuilding games and information about being an EVS volunteer. Because some of us were more new to Spanish than others all the information during the stay was given in two languages, Spanish as well as in English. Every day we also had a “taller de español” with Imanol, who was a local volunteer from Alsasua. These provided useful phrases and soon got us trying to speak more in Spanish.

On the Saturday we went for a visit to Pamplona, were we got a guided tour of the city centre and saw the start and finish of where they had the bull race. We also dined in a social kitchen called Paris 365. Mert got a little lost at one point and we got a little worried because we couldn’t call him as I had dropped my phone in the toilet the day before, but Mert turned up eventually (hurray!).

Since we all stayed together and had activities from around 9.30 in the morning until late evening we got really close to the other volunteers. Unfortunately (or maybe not) we ended up compromising on the number of hours of sleep so that we could hang out even more at night.

All in all, we had a wonderful time in Navarra and cannot wait to catch up with the other volunteers when we go for our mid-term training in a couple of months.

All the best,

Evelina, Mert and Lucia

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