Loredana, Itália -> Portugal, SVE

A Loredana veio da Mussomeli – Itália e realizou SVE em Lisboa em Portugal. Esta é a partilha da sua experiência!

Hi everyone!

I’m Loredana from Italy (Sicily) and I already did my EVS (actually the program in which I participated is called “Amicus”, but it is similar to EVS). My voluntary experience in Lisbon was great and remains the best international experience I’ve ever had. Coming from a little town in Italy I wanted to experience living in another country/ city.
Since I like to travel and learn new things I decided to have this experience so I can meet new people and have a broader view on life.
Even if I really wanted to participate in the EVS program, I had some concerns about it. I was really worried about it only during my first day (probably because that day I realized this was really happening to me), sitting in a bar having a coffee with Luisa and Federico (my colleague and flatmate). I was totally feeling disoriented, I was thinking “Oh my God, where am I? I’ll be living here for months, will I enjoy the people, my colleagues, my association, am I going to learn some Portuguese?”. And all of these thoughts were running through my mind… But now it’s really funny to know all these thoughts were there because I was anxious.
The next days I started to work in “Mais Cidadania”. In the beginning we were always in a small office in Bairro Alto. There, we helped Luisa and Denise (minha mãe brasileira) to move in the new office. We painted and cleaned and that way I got to know more people in the Association.
Usually the work in the Association was organized each week by a meeting between the volunteers, Luisa and Denise. They were focusing on things we would like to do more, so each of us did different things. For example, Keit and me went twice a week to schools doing “animation” with children. Actually, it was more a way to know different cultures through games, like games from Italy, Estonia etc. We showed the children how to play the different games and we played with them.
The thing I liked most while working at Mais Cidadania was helping out in the making of “Festival Arte Mais”. I know for sure that the volunteers after me know what I’m talking about 🙂 Generally I started working at 10 o’clock and I helped out with the administration together with the other volunteers. It was always fun working at the office since there was good atmosphere. The days were passing by in Lisbon and after two weeks I really started to enjoy my EVS since I started to get to know my Brazilian flat-mates. They were wonderful people! Also I started to understand and speak Portuguese. It was funny because in the beginning I could just say in Portuguese “Preciso de uma fatura faz favor”. What I really loved when talking with Portuguese people was the sentence a guy once said to me “Que seja inglês o português; o que é importante é que a gente se fala” 🙂
I met the most important person in Lisbon during the “On Arrival Training” that was organized by the Portuguese National Agency where Federico and me participated. There I met all the volunteers doing EVS in Portugal and there I met a lot of nice people. It was nice to participate because I could share my experience with people being in the same situation and most of all:I learned more about other European cultures and I had the chance to start new friendships.
It was there were I started my friendship with Cristelle from Belgium. We are still friends and I can say she is one of my best friends now. It’s really unexpected that you go abroad and make a really good friend. I was lucky! We share really good memories from Lisbon but not only from the EVS experience. We had good memories also after our time in Lisbon, since we visited one another more than once.
Cristelle is not the only good friend I made in Lisbon, I can say I was really lucky since I’m still in contact with the people I met in Lisbon and I was close to: Alexandre, Gil, Raquel, Eduardo, Fregi/ Fredi (our Brazilian flatmates changed Federico’s name in this one and I still call him like this), Chiara, Jana, Massimo, Marcio, William and a whole “bunch of other people”. 😀
I had a wonderful time meeting nice people, since I had the opportunity to learn so much about Portuguese culture (and other European cultures). It was an enriching experience in all levels: I learned to be more independent, to work with people from different backgrounds, to be open- minded, a new language, etc.
It was my first time in Lisbon so I didn’t have any expectations before going there. I just knew from the beginning that I liked it. Also, knowing that I could only stay for 4 months, I decided to enjoy every single moment of it.
What can I say about Lisbon? Lisbon is just great! I just love the city because of its diversity and multicultural spirit. You can meet people from all over the world. It has also a rich history because of the people of the previous colonies that live there and are present in the city with their restaurants, shops, festivals, etc.
Also, on cultural level there is always a lot to do. About the Portuguese culture I can say there are some similarities with Italian culture: like the concept of time, the hospitality, the language etc.
I was also lucky to live with Brazilian people so I learned very quickly Portuguese. That way I discovered other parts of Lisbon and met new people apart from the office so it was very easy to integrate. There are a lot of places I like in Lisbon just to hung out, like the city center (Praça Camões), Bairro Alto. About Bairro Alto: I really loved how this neighborhood changed from day to night! I really asked myself if the Bairro Alto during the night was the same place where I worked during the day. 🙂 Also, I liked very much Alfama and of course Belem which I love (especially because of the Pastéis).
What made my Lisbon experience unforgettable is of course because of the people I met there. Like I said before, I got along with my roommate who was also my colleague at work. We lived with Brazilian people who are until now very close friends of mine and who I visited two years ago.
I would recommend an EVS experience. For me it was a life changing experience.
Although it was 3 years ago, I still think about it with a big smile and it has influenced me on different levels. I learned a new language, met new people, I improved my English, and I am studying now Portuguese. Also I would like to travel more and have another international experience. It just increased my need to learn new cultures, countries and people. So I can definitively say that EVS is something to do (and repeat if you can) in life!

Beijos e abracos
Loredana

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