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#IVolunteerBecause… “It brought me so much”

Posted on 23 Feb 2016

Loads of you have been sharing your #IVolunteerBecause with us on social media, and today we're hearing more from Paul, a first year student at the University of Aberdeen reading Economics and Philosophy…


My name is Paul and I am a first year student at the University of Aberdeen reading Economics and Philosophy. Economics was always my first choice, I blame my volunteering experience last year for the Philosophy though!

I was lucky at school – I had a supportive family and great teachers. Whilst they definitely contributed to where I am today, it’s really my gap year with Volunteering Matters that got me here. But first let me explain why I became a volunteer in the first place.

I decided to volunteer in my gap year because I wanted to change something, to give something back, and to have something to look back on and to be proud of. I’m from Germany, and Full Time Volunteering with the UK charity Volunteering Matters was an opportunity to do just that, and experience a different culture at the same time.

Volunteering Matters placed me together with two other volunteers (one from Germany, and one from the UK) on Student Choices – supporting a disabled student to attend university. At the beginning of the placement, we lived briefly at the family home of my client Jack before moving to London, where the rest of the placement would be – at Jack’s university.

Through the placement I found my attitude towards university changed. Working with Jack I was exposed to many different aspects of student life, and especially what it could be like in the UK. Jack and all the other friends I made, they gave me the confidence and ambition to study abroad. I even decided to study Philosophy in addition to Economics. Jack did his masters in Philosophy and somehow managed to raise my interest in Philosophy. It started with all sorts of discussions about different aspects of life and politics, but went into deeper philosophical challenges and problems. By halfway through the my placement with him I knew I wanted to do a joint honours at university, and in the UK.

Studying in the UK is not something everyone in Germany does, and I think it was only through my volunteering with Jack that I discovered it was something for me. I wasn’t just lucky to be a Student Choices volunteer, I was lucky because my client Jack and I developed a great friendship – I would even go as far as to call him my best friend. Apart from Jack, I met a lot of other new friends – fellow volunteers and all the people I lived with during my gap year

My volunteering placement with Jack was supposed to be about supporting him to go to University – in the end it brought me so much more. Friendship, an education (not just academic) abroad and a new career path ahead.

If you want to know more about full time volunteering and how you can get involved, just click here.

Paul Gotz

Paul is a volunteer with Volunteering Matters (formerly known as CSV). It's a national charity leading UK volunteering in policy and practice. We engage over 35,000 volunteers every year, and currently have 150 active programmes across the UK. We focus on the needs of four distinct communities; older and retired people, disabled people, vulnerable families and young people.

Categories: Charities, What volunteering means to me