Alumni Spotlight: Andriana Kallinikou

Andriana is a High School teacher, traveling the world during the school holidays. She loves learning about the history of cities and sharing that with her students.

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Why did you choose this program?

I have always wanted to volunteer and I have never been to Asia, so I thought I would combine the two together and do something amazing.

What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

The program provider gave me tips on what to expect in Vietnam provided a step-by-step guide. I had to organize flights, my visa, and insurance on my own. Although the provider did offer links to where I could get these from.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

If you're going somewhere, whether for a short time or a long time, make the most of it. Remember, 'you're here for a good time, not a long time'. So, have as many experiences as you can, see things, meet people, accept offers to go places with people. You can get drunk and sleep off your hangover at home, no need to do it while traveling.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

We wake up at 6am, have breakfast, and travel to Food Outreach with the other volunteers. Once there we prepare food, serve customers, and meet the local people. We typically return to the accommodation by 2 pm and then go sightseeing around Vietnam.

In the evenings we have dinner at the accommodation about 6 pm and go to a local bar or hang out with the other volunteers at night.

The weekends are free to travel to other parts of Vietnam with the other volunteers or sightsee around HCM.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

Getting sick from the different cuisine.

I was still pretty worried about getting sick, so I decided to eat food at the accommodation and if I did eat out, I made sure the restaurant looked clean or stayed away from foods that I knew could make me sick.

How can participants make the most out of the volunteer abroad experience?

Ask around - the other volunteers are a wealth of knowledge. They have been there longer than you and so would know where to go and what to see. For example, the other volunteers knew about a beautiful park 5 minutes away from the accommodation, that I didn't and that was not on Trip Advisor.