20 março 2019

O testimunho da Ana

So I am finally here, in the city of my dreams, Lisbon. I am in the beginning of my 9-month ESC
service after I left my life in Croatia.

And what a beautiful life I had, said many of my friends and family members when I announced that I am leaving my secure job as a pharmacist, my newly renovated apartment and all of the loving people there to go volunteering in a foreign country. And they were right, it was a beautiful life indeed and I have no regrets. However, I also know it wasn’t the life for me, at least not in the next few years that are to come.

I needed a change of my daily routine, I needed time for other activities, other learning opportunities and I also needed to change the environment. I have always loved traveling and I have never spent a day of my vacation just lying and doing nothing. It was always a trip to another country, some project or just some other activity than my usual routine. This time I decided I need more. I need to do something bigger, somewhere further but also doing something that has a purpose. Some will say that I ran away from reality. Maybe I did, but I am creating a new reality as we speak.

I will work as a volunteer for the next 9 months with people from all over Europe in an association that coordinates and hosts youth mobility opportunities. I have always liked working in a multicultural environment and I am familiar with youth projects. However, this time I’m not only taking part in a project. This time I will also have to live with 8 other people and share my personal space with people I meet for the first time. Also it will mean that my financial situation is changing from a salary to an allowance. For me, it is a big change since I have been independent ever since I moved away from my parents 10 years ago. But I am ready, at least I believe so.

I spent my first 2 days in Lisbon at a friend’s place and then the big moment came and I had to move to my new house, casa Anjos. It was Friday morning and I already knew who my roommate is going to be. I was very lucky because it was a girl I have met the previous year
in another project that also took part in Lisbon so I had a really nice welcoming and introduction to my new home. It is a pretty old house, close to the city centre, with old furniture and a lot of posters on the walls left by people who previously lived there, not to be forgotten. I guess this is what makes it so unique. Not to mention the amount of stairs you need to climb just to reach the house itself. But hey Ana, you’re in Lisbon now, there will be many ups and downs (literally). I had many doubts when I came. How are 9 of us going to make it sharing one bathroom and one kitchen, are people going to wash their dishes and clean after themselves, what if I don’t get along with everyone, am I going to make friends here and many more. It turned out that people here are really nice, kind and always ready to help.

I came there just a few days before one other volunteer was about to leave since her project just ended. This was the moment where I saw how incredible connection can people make during less than one year. Everybody was overwhelmed with all kinds of feelings having to say goodbye (maybe forever) to a member of a family. Because this is what you become, a family. I am wondering if I will make the same kind of bonds during this period. I am very happy to be in Lisbon in the first place because this city won my heart the first time I visited as a tourist only. I still remember that day, when I told my friend that I will definitely move here to live, at least for some time in my life. Many didn’t believe me, maybe sometimes even I wasn’t so sure if I will ever be able to make such a huge change in my life. But I did it. And now I’m here.

I don’t have all the answers yet. I don’t even think I have all the questions. But what I do know is that I will try to use this period of my life the best I can. I will devote some time to my personal growth and self-development, to learn all the things that I never had the time for. Also to make a lot of connections, to talk to people from different backgrounds, to hear and share ideas. I will try to think of my own personal project and I will try to be the person who can have a positive impact on other people’s lives. Not to mention I also want to travel through this beautiful country and meet more of these heart-warming kind people who don’t have a lot but always keep on smiling.

This testimony turned out to be a lot longer than I expected. Especially considering it is just a start of my life here. However I wanted to share at least some of my thoughts of my new adventure. I will tell you in 9 months how it went.

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