09 fevereiro 2019

O testemunho da Elise

Here I am. Almost 9 months passed and it’s time for me to think and to do a resume of all my EVS. My association SPIN said to me, when I arrived, to take some notes during my EVS to not forget what happened, what I learned, what I experienced. Well, I didn’t do it because I didn’t take the time. But it was so incredible that now, in front of my computer, I have any difficulties to remember. It's strange to think that it’s my last month, I’m feeling so comfortable here. “Casa Anjos” is my home, Lisbon is my city, Portugal is my adoption country. I remember the first day I arrived in Lisbon, the 1st of June, the first day of Santos Populares. I had a very festive first impression of Lisbon. I just arrived, put my luggage in my new room and went out with my roommates to discover Lisbon for the first time by listening Pimba, trying Super Bock beer and eating Sardinhas no pão. This first day would describe my entire EVS: always doing something, always discovering something, always with my friends, always drinking vinho verde (Viva Gazela!!). 

My main goals when I came here were,“to discover a new culture, learn a new language”, “to be more creative”, and over all, to “learn more about the others and myself”. Well, the last one seems a bit exaggerated but yes, after 3 years the head in the studies, in the rush, I needed a break to raise the head up and to see more clearly my situation and the world. So let’s see if I ticketed all the boxes.

First let’s talk about Casa Anjos and how I learned more about the others. The first day, I arrived in this flat full of pictures and photos left by the former volunteers. It’s a flat quite old, with carpet all over the floor, a disposition a bit strange with a living room smaller than my room. I didn’t feel so comfortable the first days in this flat where, according to my roommates, there is the spirit of “Menino Morto”. Yes, dead child, the story is a bit long but this ghost seems to be the keeper of our flat. A strange flat, but the people inside are just amazing. We are a mix of so much nationalities and I learned more about other countries as Hungary, Armenia, Italy, Spain, Poland, Belgium, Macedonia, Croatia. To live with so much people allows you to have a vision of the whole world without moving from home. When I started my EVS, my goal wasn’t specially to make me “friends for life”. But as sentimental as it can be, it happened, and now I could say I have brothers and sisters of different nationalities. It’s a human experience, you grow together, you live together, you share your room. So we developed a family spirit, and even “Menino Morto” seemed to be one of us. 


Thanks to Casa Anjos and my EVS family, I discovered the world and plenty of different cultures. But I had also affinities with some local people who became my closest friends and a big support. They allowed me to discover the portuguese culture deeper than I would never imagine. The music, the food, the celebrations, the traditions, the habits, the situation of Portuguese people. I didn’t stay on the surface with a touristic image of Portugal but I learned what are also the daily preoccupations, difficulties, concerns of Portuguese people. Gourmand as I am, one of my main goal was also to try all the specialities of Portugal. I can say that it’s a goal almost achieve. Almost because of course I didn’t try the one hundred ways to cook bacalhau. But I did the list of what I ate since I arrived and, well, it’s a lot, really. For me, discover a culture goes specially through the food, and now I can say that the portuguese culinary culture is very oily, with maybe too much french fries but appart of this, really tasty. I could even say that I’ll miss my favourite portuguese dish, the “Bacalhau à Gomes de Sá”, or even the “Bola de berlim com chocolate” that we were used to eat “às quatro da manhã” in Cais do Sodre after a crazy night (reference to one of my favourite portuguese song: “Devia ir” of Wet Bed Gang).

Besides my personal life, I evolved through my job as a monitor for kids in the CAF São Vicente. I lived two different period in the children’s life: the first part was during the vacation period, the second part was during the school period. These two periods were different in their rythm, activities but also because I had two different team and tutor. It was a bit disturbing at the beginning, you know to change your habits, to meet new people while you just arrive 3 months ago and you just got used. But finally, this change was a good opportunity to share my time and to see the different organisation of two centers. In my old testimonials, I said I had some struggle with the portuguese and to learn this language would be an indispensable factor in my development at work. It was totally true. At the beginning it was difficult to understand what the kids were saying to me. After 5 months, I improved and the portuguese started to be easier. For a person who didn’t know one word of portuguese, I’m proud to say that after 9 months, I speak quite well the language of the “shhh”.


This EVS was also a good opportunity to develop my creativity between my work and the project I was part of at SPIN. I stopped drawing or painting at High School and I totally gave up at the university to concentrate on my studies. At work, drawing with kids or for the CAF allowed me to develop my artistic skills. I drew the entire schedule of the CAF, I helped with the decoration for Halloween, Christmas, São Martinho, São Valentim. Plus, with the other volunteers of SPIN who were part of my project “Change +”, we had to create an exposition about the Human Rights. I realized an artistical activity with kids to expose some draws at the exhibition. We did a big job to create an interesting exhibition with content. The inauguration was really nice and I’m proud to be part of a project like this!

This EVS was, for me, the occasion to think about my future, to take some time to discover what I deeply want to do after my double bachelor. Because I don’t forget why I did this gap year. It was maybe 9 months really intense in travels, experiences, parties.. but I never forgot that I had to reflex about what will be the next step of my life. During my EVS, I found the field in which I want to work and I started to apply for some masters. I’m feeling a bit confuse because almost all my friends already finished their studies and they can stay in Lisbon after their EVS. It’s something really tempting but I know I must stay focus: to do my master for maybe after, come back in this country.


E para acabar da melhor forma, eu vou escrever em português, para vos mostrar o quanto eu amo este idioma. Com certeza vou ter muitas saudades deste lugar, destas pessoas, desta cidade, deste país. Mas vai ser apenas um até jà, porque eu pretendo voltar ao país do bacalhau, da pimba e do vinho verde muito brevemente.

Até logo Lisboa, beijinhos grandes 


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