Volunteering Abroad

How Volunteering Abroad Changed Me

Volunteering Abroad

This is me in April 2016 being presented with a certificate for being a ‘Shy Guy’ when I spent three months volunteering abroad in Africa. How times have changed. The guy in this picture is the same person that stood up in front of two sets of families and proposed to his girlfriend. The same guy that is now the father of a child. The very same that now uploads videos of himself to the internet for the whole world to see. Who’d have thought it? Not me that’s for sure!

I have always had trouble with confidence. It held me back my entire childhood life. If there was ever an opportunity to do something adventurous or exciting, I would always hide away and tell myself that I couldn’t possibly do that! My comfort zone became my own worst enemy. The new me all started from the trip to Africa. My life was at a stand still, and I needed a change.

Now most people would take a holiday, or go on a 3 day bender, but not me. This shy, self conscious and nervous wreck decided it would be a good idea to get on a plane with 20 strangers and travel to the other side of the world for 3 months to work alongside more strangers, in a strange unfamiliar home with strange unfamiliar people. I must have been mad! The first few weeks I spent missing home and wondering what the hell I was doing. Tears were shed and I had those heartbreaking moments when I thought…I can’t do this, I need to go home. However, I found some inner strength from somewhere and with lots of support from my loved ones back home, I stuck it out until the end. I learnt a lot about myself during this trip, and I had a completely new outlook on life.

So How Did Volunteering Abroad Change Me?

  • It gave me the confidence to know that I have a lot of determination and that I’m a lot stronger than I realised.
  • I learnt how to tolerate people. I’m definitely not a people person, but being in a strange environment forced me to interact more and become part of a group, rather than be the outsider.
  • My comfort zone began to grow as time went by, and by the end of the trip I was up dancing in front of people and having the best time.
  • Has volunteering abroad changed my social life? Hell no, I’m still not putting myself out there into social situations, but that is mainly down to my busy schedule. However, it has allowed me to be more open minded to spending time away from the comfort of my own home.

What’s Happened Since Then?

Since that trip, my new found confidence has allowed me to grow as a person. I’ve taken on brand new challenges that I never would have dreamed of before. I’ve changed my job multiple times. I have become a father. I proposed to Amy. The way that I proposed however was definitely a brave move! I knew that I wanted to do something special, but what actually happened was on a completely different level. The full story of this will be coming up as a blog post all to itself. Basically, to cut a long story short, I got up in front of two sets of families at my son’s christening to get down on one knee, with the cameras rolling!

And…get this, I’ve recently started making videos on YouTube! What has happened to me?! A couple of years ago this would have been unthinkable, but my new attitude of “JUST GET OVER YOURSELF AND DO IT!” came through strong. Instead of thinking about making videos, I actually put it into action and had a go. So far I’ve made 4 videos and they are currently sitting online for the whole world to see. I still sit in front of the camera for 20 minutes trying to muster the confidence to start talking. The point is that I get there!

Go and check out my videos by clicking the link. They aren’t perfect, but they are mine. Hopefully one day, Austin will be able to watch them and think “wow Dad that’s so cool that you did that!” That would make it all worthwhile.

Go and check out my YouTube channel and subscribe to my page, and thanks for reading this post. Let me know your experiences with tackling shyness. I want to hear some amazing stories about how lives have been changed by gaining confidence.

volunteering abroad


  • Paola

    Fantastic story, I didn’t know you went through this amazing experience! Volunteering abroad is one of the things I’ve always wanted to do, but never had (or created) the opportunity to. Maybe one day 🙂
    So glad to read it’s been a life-changing experience for you. It’s good to stretch beyond one’s comfort zone!

    • YuleTimes

      Yeah it was a few years ago now but it was such a life changing experience. I’d definitely recommend anyone to try it. Just maybe if you haven’t got too many responsibilities at home. I went for 3 months so it’s a long time.

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