14 maio 2022

O testemunho No. 2 da Marina (Viver Telheiras)


This year I’m learning that I can put much more things in the washing machine than I could imagine, like shoes, I never cleaned shoes. I also learned how to open bottles with a lighter, and I promise it has been a lifetime challenge, comparable to the time I learned how to do stone skipping and now I do it almost stylish. 

I also enjoyed more to be alone and I learned how to gather people without worrying if they will get along. I realized that I love beet, which isn’t a vegetable I used to eat a lot back in my hometown,I also realized that I look much better when I have time to sleep and I’m not angry anymore, never. I thought that I was an angry person and it turns out I was just tired. I’m also learning how to do handstands, I’m not a professional doing them, but I’m quite proud of my evolve these pasts months. I’m practicing trapeze more than ever and I hang out with my friends almost every day.

This year all the plants that I bought are making new leaves, because I water them and I take care of them, And I feel kind of flourishing new leaves as well after these two years of pandemic and this new life that I build here. Life’s coming back to normal and it has nothing of normal at all, new place, new friends, new family, but I still have this feeling, that I’m coming back to something I was, to something I already knew of myself. Being a teenager, this stimulating environment where you grow, and maybe it’s the city, maybe it’s the COVID is almost over or maybe it’s that I have time again, but I’m confident that I will enjoy this bubble no matter what, even though I know it doesn’t last.

03 maio 2022

O testemunho No. 2 da Afrodite (SPEA)


Hello everyone 
Already halfway through my volunteering program with SPEA -Sociedade Portuguesa para o Estudo das Aves. I am thinking  that only 3 months are left and I get stressed about my next steps. Can I say that it was worth it after 6 months of experiencing it? Definitely. When thinking of my background and that is not exactly and directly related to biology and nature conservation I realize that if not through volunteering and if not through the ESC program I would never have the chance to experience something like this.
I realized that I do love working for environmental conservation and environmental education projects. It feels unreal to me sometimes to think that actually there are jobs that are based totally in the outdoors, and that naturally protected areas need so much attendance and workforce to keep flourishing. I had no idea that these kinds of jobs existed and I was amazed to find out. In the last three months, I have been visiting Berlengas islands to carry out conservation work. It was so special to get to know the islands as if they are animate creatures which in a way they are. Their every formation, track, cliff, rock, bird colony, fauna composition. I could never imagine such a small island having so much to show. It's every side that touches the ocean having a different name as if they are street names in a big city. The stories and myths that it withholds within the knowledge of the very few habitants. The lighthouse keepers, the nature police and us, volunteers and biologists. The 6 of us inhabit an island and stay in the lighthouse. It felt like the earth was this island and nothing else existed. Just us on a big rock surviving in a continuous battle with the ocean waves crushing on its every edge. A vibrating ecosystem that would seem as nothing special for a couple of hours but the more the time, the hours and the days spent there, the more it revealed to me, how much treasure it withholds, how much knowledge and purpose it carries for the protection of biodiversity and the continuation of life.
What does a day in Berlengas feel like? We would wake up in the morning to breakfast with fresh Portuguese toast and coffee. Telescopes, binoculars and ready to climb hills all day long. We would cross the land and reach the edges, set up the tripod and zoom in the telescope lens to watch a nest of ‘Galietas’ from 300 meters away on a deathly cliff! We would watch for hours until she decides to get up so we can see and count her eggs or chicks! Now you can imagine not all of them would be so cooperative, some of them would even play games of on purpose maneuvering so we never get a chance to make a clear observation! Others would stand up for a second and as we crazily rush into setting the lens at the right spot she would sit down immediately once we are able to watch her! Now tell me if that is not on purpose! The ‘good’ news is that we have to do that for more than 100 nests across the island which can barely be finished within 5-6 days! Isn’t it boring? One might say so, but I quite enjoyed this part of just sitting watching the ‘galieta’ and the ‘galieta’ watching me for hours and hours. I don’t think I needed my patience any more than in this case before.
At lunch time we would have someone cooking a very Portuguese amazing food like ‘calderada de peixe’ or ‘massada de peixe’ were my favorites! Wine, coffee, and aguardiente was part of the menu too! And the plenty of cakes which I was asked to make because it seems like it made them very happy! In the afternoon we would either check the mouse traps to see if they trapped a mouse and or we would record the fauna species per square meter of land and per percentage of coverage! Fun stuff! Other tasks would include recording species traffic for the census using the telescope! That was not easy! Imagine having the view of a highway of birds which are at least 10 km away from you and by their way of flying and colors you need to identify what species they are, how many they are and what are they doing there! I wish they could just tell me straight away! It feels like being in the middle of a motorway and trying to identify the date of manufacturing of each car based on its emissions! This was such a random comparison but whatever! And my next favorite part is dinner. Same as lunch.
And while one might think that at night we would go to bed and rest we actually had to wear torches on our foreheads and get outside in the middle of the night, climbing cliffs with the moonlight as guidance and the torches on our heads blinding each other! Why?? Well because we had to go and extract those poor birds called ‘cagarras’ from their nests in the ground and then measure their every body part and give them a ring! Just imagine you are sleeping in your bed in the night peacefully and a giant hand drags you out and starts measuring you with a ruler, then stuffing you in to a bag and weighting you and as if you are not fashionable enough in your pajamas you from now on need to wear a bracelet with a number! That is how a non-biologist sees all of these… Of course the poor ‘cagarras’ had to fight back and it was a bloody fight with our hands full of scratches since their beaks are quite deathly! And we would be doing this all night long, coming back home at 2 am in the night!
So that was a typical active day in the berlengas in the high season which is spring and everything is flourishing! There would be some days that nothing would happen and we cannot get out of the lighthouse since the wind splashes are about 70km per hour which would most likely cost you your life if at the edge of a cliff! Did I have accidents on those cliffs? A few yes. It is not the safest type of job, but definitely one of the most exciting ones I have done with all these risks that come with it!

So that was a small taste of my conservation work in Berlengas which seems like a world I would never thought existed and I feel so lucky that in one way or another I had the chance to experience it! Definitely one of the greatest gifts that I got from the whole volunteering experience so far. Let's see what comes next, what steps will I take, and I will soon be starting to plan my life after this program. I am so glad I chose to do this program and it definitely exited all my expectations by far. I never thought of this experience being sooo interesting! I am grateful to SPIN and SPEA for choosing me as their volunteer.

April 2022, 22nd.

O testemunho final da Mari (SPIN)


The end is a new beginning.

I am sad about this ending of the chapter, but at some point, everything has an end. Life is full of endings and beginnings. This is the way of life. I'm excited to see what life has to offer for me and trying to focus on that. It's been a fantastic one-year journey, full of unforgettable moments, and deep down, I knew It was only for some time.

I've mentioned how grateful I'm for this beautiful opportunity, and I will say one last time I love you, Portugal. You've been very nice to me for a whole year and showed me all the beauty of yourself. You are such a unique, warm, tasty, calm, multicultural, full of nature country. I don't think I have all the words to express my feelings.

During the project, I developed many skills. I participated in very Interesting tasks, but the goal when I was moving To Portugal was to get to know myself better, and spend some time alone, which I did, and I'm on my way to learning more. It's a lifetime discovery, and I'm ready to know more. I've met many excellent people, they had a remarkable impact on me, and deep and meaningful conversations gave me more than we can imagine sometimes.

In my mind, It's full of lovely memories, which I will keep to myself In my heart, and I'm going to remember and smile every time thinking about Portugal. I guess this Is It. Thank you, SPIN and especially Giulia,

Love you guys. Hugs. 

21 abril 2022

O testemunho No. 2 da Annamaria (Spin)

Hi everyone, My name is Annamaria and I'm from Estonia. It’s my first time living abroad and also volunteering. I'm working for an organization called Spin. My work mostly is to go to schools, talk with youngsters about my journey here, collect signatures, take part in different projects, and a few times a month cook in the kitchen with other Spin volunteers. My volunteering is so different each week and I love it, you never get bored.

My chapter in Portugal started October 2021, so 7 months ago and so far it's been one hell of a ride, with a lot of laughs, meeting new people, Learning about their countries, traveling across Portugal I have been making amazing memories. It has been filled with ups and downs but overall getting this opportunity was one of the BEST things that could've happened to me ,I’ve learned so much about myself, also faced my biggest fear (stage fright) and this opportunity has opened my mind a lot more. I’ve seen a lot of different places and met a lot of people across the world, 

Almost everyone has taught me something and I’m glad that I had this opportunity to meet them.
In the beginning, yes, it was a little bit hard because of homesickness and the new environment, also I didn’t know a lot of people but it changed quickly cause other volunteers and overall people here are super open-minded, welcoming and it’s easy to connect with them.

I’ve had to say goodbye to some good friends, it’s always sad and hard but that’s how life works. It sends people to our path to teach us something, even if it’s just a small thing. No one is in our life without a reason.

Living in Lisbon has been a challenge for me. I live with 6 other people and also I'm sharing a room but it's an interesting experience. I'm used to living alone and having my own space but here I don't have that and sometimes it's really hard but luckily my flatmates are amazing people, they are like my family here. We travel together, have dinner together and we just fit living together, sometimes things get overwhelming. Everyone is from a different county so the ideas always don't match. But we figure out quickly how to compromise and how to make our lives together better.

I love the city in every way. Lisbon is a very easy city to fall in love with, it has so many opportunities to offer. It's beautiful, people are nice, you never get bored here. Once my project ends I’ll miss this city a lot. For sure I’ll be back here, I have a lot of good friends here who I’ll stay in contact with for sure!

I fell in love with the country overall, the more I travel the more I fall in love, cause every place is like a fairytale. So far I’ve been to  Algarve, Porto, Nazare, and a lot of wonderful places. I love nature and that’s why my favorite place is Sintra, with its amazing nature, castles, and palaces. Every time I go there it’s like my first time, there's always some new place to discover.

I still have 2 months left here and I can't wait what places I will discover more and what surprises Portugal has to offer me.

12 abril 2022

O testemunho No. 1 do Joan (SPEA)


 Hello Everyone 

My name is Joan and I am from Barcelona. I came to Portugal on November 2021 to start my volunteering program in a project with the Marine Conservation Dptm. from SPEA in Faro, in the Portuguese Algarve.

I had already participated in similar projects, in which I had to live near where the field work was, but I had not yet lived outside of Spain. That was one of the reasons why this was an experience I couldn't miss.

Although the first few weeks were a bit chaotic, I immediately got to know the people I share the project with, and I was able to make other friends in the city. In fact, beyond the project, and as part of the experience, I have been able to meet people with similar interests to mine with whom I can share my free time. Really, I don't have much time to get bored.

since I’ve been here, I’ve been lucky enough to be able to do a wide variety of tasks, from spending days on a boat doing seabird censuses to being able to scour the Algarve coast monitoring endangered species populations. We’ve also done tougher tasks like removing exotic flora or controlling invasive wildlife, 

But I can say that I’ve enjoyed each one. Between all this work and my free time, I am learning a lot about things I already knew and others that I am discovering, On top of all that, I was able to continue my training as a biologist through online courses and training, which was one of my goals before I came here.

For now, I look forward to the arrival of spring and the beginning of the nesting season for birds in the area, as well as seeing the awakening of life on the islands where we work. Let's see what surprises it brings us.

27 março 2022

O testemunho final do Albert (JFL - S. Vicente)

Hello Everyone


This year in Lisbon has been a very special year for me. It is the first time in my life that I have lived outside my own country for a year and that brings me a lot of things. It is also the first time that I have worked with children for such a long period of time, I have only worked in the summer season so far.

My experience of volunteering was a bit more difficult at the beginning because of the language barrier. The vast majority of volunteers work in English, but in my case, everything was in Portuguese... so I had no other choice than learning Portuguese, and I am grateful for that. 

From the first day, despite not speaking my language (although Portuguese is very close to Spanish), my colleagues, especially my tutor Paula, made an effort to make themselves understood and helped me a lot to improve my Portuguese. 

My activities have been changing throughout the volunteering, I started as a monitor to support my co-workers, we have done Spanish, logic, sports and gardening activities; I have also helped in the food bank and I have collaborated with other organizations to do activities in the school, But not everything has been about school. The city of Lisbon is an incredible city, I already knew it before and I really wanted to spend some time of my life here. It is a city with many contrasts, on the one hand, you have the historical part with the buildings, the streets, the viewpoints, the squares, the museums, the parks and the markets.

on the other hand, you have the international life of Lisbon: the concerts, the parties and all the events that are taking place. Lisbon is a lively city, every day you can find something to do. In the city center you can find people from all over the world; in the surroundings there are more Portuguese and natives of the former colonies.

Outside Lisbon, you find a lot of beaches and nature: Sintra, Caparica, Setúbal, Cascais,  I have been so lucky to get to know the region very well. The whole area is great for nature walks and surfing. Having a car has allowed me to visit many places: Ericeira, Peniche, Santarem, Coimbra, Costa Nova, Aveiro, Porto, Guimaraes, Braga, Faro, Tavira, ... Although I still have many things to know about Portugal, for example, the national park of Geres, everyone has told me about it

And last but not least, from this year here, I take a lot of people with me. People who have helped me without asking for anything in return. People who have offered me great opportunities. People who have given me good conversations. People who have made my experience here a wonderful one.

 Thank you very much.

15 março 2022

O testemunho final da Isa (Junta)

Last Testimony

Hi there! I am Isa and I am 24 years old and I am coming from Spain. Almost one year ago, I decided to take one
of the best decision in my life: Being a volunteer in Lisbon, I´ve always wanted to do such a volunteering, so searching the opportunity it wasn´t difficult to me. Now, with all the memories I have in my mind, I feel grateful and first of all I wanna say thank you Spin for selected me, without you it would not been the same Since the very first moment I contact Spin I feel this could be a good association, and I was sure at the end.

Being abroad one year is not easy, specially the first
months without really knowing someone. You start dating some volunteers, start seeing them more frequently
(hey, let´s go for a coffee, let´s go for a walk…), and then they became your friends and your family here.

Also, I would like to thank them all because you were one of the best important parts of my volunteering. Starting from the first person I met till the last one. 
Lots of trips, lots of laughs, lots of sunset in beautiful miradors…. What can I say? If you are planning going to Lisbon, do not think twice!! You want regret it.

Moreover, my time in the school has been also nice (not always to be honest) but being with such a fantastic group of kids that everyday they see me coming from the door, going to hug me is one of the best feelings ever, it makes you feel comfortable , happy and the most important thing: loved. 

Teaching Spanish to kids and teenagers it was also a good opportunity of improving my “teaching skills”, as it was for me the first time with that age. Nevertheless, CAF Quintas dos Frades, you will always be in my heart.

So, as I said in my second testimony, I guess it is my time and say: “Be happy and see you other time in the future”. 

Love you and kisses,