08 maio 2018

O testemunho da Ana

Looking back at the beginning of my EVS, it seems like it was a lifetime ago instead of just a year. It’s almost hard to recall the feelings of confusion, awe and curiosity that were so overwhelming during my first months in Lisbon. Everything that was new and surprising at the beginning, became more familiar and comfortable over time. The process of making a second home happened so gradually that I almost didn’t feel it - I just woke up one day realising that I’ve got some new routines, new rituals, ways to work around the little things that frustrated me at first. People and places that I didn’t know sneaked their way around and became close and familial.

During my 9 months at Associação Spin I did plenty of things, most of them that I never even imagined doing - cooking for a group of 30 people, baking Croatian pastries for 5 hours straight, organising a workshop during a youth exchange, being a tour guide, meeting people from 17 different countries in one day, speaking in Portuguese in front of a room full of people after only a couple of months learning it… The variety of activities and freedom to experiment and propose my own ideas felt great; it is something that doesn’t happen often in more formal work settings but it was a great chance to reevaluate my strengths and weaknesses as well as to learn a lot of new skills and try them out without the fear of failure. It reminded me what work should be like, what it looks like to have a healthy balance between personal life and time spent at the office and made me strive for that even after the end of the project.

But other than having the opportunity to try all these new things and learn in a practical way, I would say that EVS is before everything a big personal journey - it is a very intense and emotional experience and I often commented with other volunteers that we feel like we’ve lived a couple of years in only a few months in Lisbon! The amount of things we did, the places we went to, the amount of new friends that we made is amazing. I can’t even count the number of new people I met here, and some of them will remain close long after our EVS is over. Being EVS volunteers, all of us were very aware that we are here for a limited amount of time so we tried to make best of it and use every moment. Of course, not everything was perfect and there were hard moments, moments of loneliness, moments when we were saying goodbye to others whose journey in Portugal came to an end, but it was worth it compared to all the beautiful experiences that we gained in return.

Reflecting on those moments and feelings from the whole last year brings back maybe the most important thing I took from the whole experience - a reminder of the childlike state of mind where everything is new and full of possibilities, but on the other hand you feel completely lost and have to learn everything from the beginning. Communicating, getting around, going to the supermarket, figuring out the bus schedule… everything that I used to do on autopilot required an insane amount of energy, preparation and focus and caused a lot of frustration. Nothing made sense but at the same time everything did - because once I conquered the practicalities, there was a whole new world to explore and get to know, just like if I were a child seeing the world for the first time.

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