For my first three weeks in Scotland, I volunteered at a restaurant/farm called Fruin Farm in Loch Lomond! It was my first Workaway experience and it felt very natural despite having had a not-great experience au pairing (through a different website) many moons ago.
Rebecca and Wayne spent this past year renovating Fruin Farm (with other workawayers from around the world) from an old farm house into a restaurant as well as a home for a mix of llamas, alpacas, goats, sheep, and pigs. By the time I arrived in early October, everything was fully renovated and the restaurant was open for business. Most of my volunteering was spent playing barista and waitress, but I also helped a bit with the animals (including bottle feeding a little goat!)
Having spent most of the past year on my own schedule, it was nice to have a change of pace working with other people and interacting with locals every day. Most of the customers who came in were local ladies coming in for tea and Pat's monstrous scones and everyone was so nice. They'd usually ask where I was from and what brought me all the way over, tickled that a California girl would opt for Scotland in October (it was beautiful, I'd do it again).
If you haven't tried Workaway before, I'd definitely recommend it. I'd heard of Workaway years and years ago but was reminded of it more recently during Chelsea's year of slow travels. She has a ton of great tips that I found helpful, and on top of them, here are a few of my own:
1. Be yourself. As you're contacting hosts, make sure you take the time to really tell them about yourself and why you'd like to volunteer with them. Rebecca and Wayne told me they got dozens of requests daily and can't respond to them all, so I was surprised I made it through at all. These people are likely welcoming you into their home-- make sure they get a good sense of who they're welcoming.
2. Ask questions. Chelsea explains this really well, but don't be afraid to get as much information as possible so you know what you're walking into. She says, "My biggest tip is to be high maintenance in your search! Then, once you get there, be as open minded as possible, for the ultimate experience" and I couldn't agree more.
3. Trust your gut. This one is big for me. You could have all of your ducks in a row, everything planned, etc, but if you get that feeling, listen to it. That doesn't mean run away, but try to figure out if you're missing some information or just need to know more to understand why you feel that way. You won't do yourself any favors walking into something with negative premonitions.
4. Don't be afraid. I mean, you can have a healthy fear for your safety and well-being, but I think the best experiences come from doing things outside of your comfort zone. I'd never intentionally gotten within arms-reach of a llama my entire life and then I fed them almost every day. I'd promised myself a life of self-employment and then I took a detour waitressing at a restaurant so I could travel and see Scotland. If something is remotely interesting to you, pursue it. You never know, and you never will if you don't try.
5. Write it down. Although three weeks seemed like a long span when I first planned everything, it all flew by. Each day was similar, but there were so many moments that made it special. So in no particular order:
Feeding baby Mac, the time the two random ladies gave me a ride to Helensburgh, introducing Anna to Heath Ledger, eating all the cake that couldn't be served the next day, getting called a "wee lassie," telling the Brits how I pronounce "acclimate" and "herb," laughing at how the Brits pronounce "schedule" and "parmesan" (lol), the cutest chubby sheep Uma and Valentine, breakfast rolls, soup for lunch, tea after dinner, explaining Instagram, watching the sunrise from my bedroom window, taking my first night sky photo, running into a Filipino guy in the middle of nowhere, and finally feeling at home in a place so far from my own once again.