Olympic Games of 2016 was in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. My first trip to Latin America, so the level of excitement was overshooting.

If you ever want to know about the organization of big sports events, you better visit one and be involved. After 21 days of working with my team managing handball games (both female and male), I realized – it is messy. It wasn’t messy just this time. Every time. Organizers simply hope that it all will pass. During the last game between Russia and France (female team), I saw how the arena was basically dripping and organizers hoped for nothing serious to happen for another hour, as then everything would be over.

Basically, how does it work? How to be a part of Olympic Games, let’s say starting from a volunteer position?

It is a two-year process. Apply online and wait until you are contacted, after it is a lottery that gets you into the system. Buy a ticket, find a place to stay and enjoy the process. This is how it worked last year. You pick up the uniform, sponsored by 361 Degrees, frankly speaking, quite a uniform. Be prepared to stay in line for a long time. Every time sponsors vary. Then, get a proper training. Hopefully, not a five-minute monolog. Then you start your work, the one you signed up for when applying for a position.

As a volunteer, you get several bonuses: uniform + sneakers, designed swatch, and other small perks, as well as coupons for free lunch, which isn’t good. I literally got a horrible picture of the food industry in Brazil based on ‘free lunches’, which is absolutely different. Now you know, food they give you on sets of Olympics is not always good.

You have the opportunity to work closely with the international team and make new friends. That is the best part.

As to the organization of the event, it is solely your responsibility to stay safe, arrive safely and work. But, there are plenty of advantages to it. Networking is the key. As a journalist, you can get experience working with big guys from France24, Reuters, etc. helping them around with various tasks. This is the on-the-ground work that no online courses about organizing events can teach you. It is worth investing in yourself.

The key factor to keep in mind. You are on your own during big events such as Olympics. It is a professional and emotional growth. And, you get to see most of the games for free.