"In June 2011, I went to a project in the Alpine region of northern Italy as part of my summer break from uni. For 2 weeks I lived on a mountain with 10 other volunteers, from countries including Turkey, Japan and South Korea. I was the only Brit and I loved it! I really got to know about what life is like in countries I’ve not yet been lucky enough to visit, and I made some friends for life. It was an exhausting two weeks – we were over 1000m above sea level, and cars could only get us up as far as 600m. But it was also really good fun - in the evenings we played games, cooked dinner together, and watched the stars. At the weekend we visited the local city, had a homemade Italian lunch, and went to a local festival.
The project involved monitoring the flora and fauna in the area. We took photos and made sketches of the flowers; caught butterflies in order to identify them before setting them free; and we set humane traps to see what mice are living on the mountain. That last one involved some very early mornings, and seeing the sunrise was wonderful. To be honest, it didn’t feel like work – we felt lucky to be in such a beautiful part of the world. It wasn’t a very long project but we knew we were making a difference – all that the Italian organisation needed was for a group of people to take some time to survey the mountainside, a task too big for the team of just 3 who work in the park. Our efforts made it into the local newspaper! It was an experience I’ll never forget, and I’m so pleased I was a part of it."