06 agosto 2019

Agnieszka’s testimony: 4 things I’ve learned during my volunteering in Lisbon

Although I feel like I just arrived, I am already in the middle of my volunteering project. Portuguese sun and summer vibes, as well as the close distance to the ocean, makes writing this text slow and painful process. The pleasure of describing my experience seems way less attractive than going to the beach. However, despite this unfavorable conditions of the sunny weather, I managed to write down those 4 things that I’ve learned during 4 months of my stay here:

1. You get as much, as you give

At the beginning of my volunteering adventure, I was a bit passive – I was doing things I was asked to do. At that time I was complaining a bit that I don’t have enough tasks or they are not really what I wanted. And then I decided to do something with that and be more pro-active.

Instead of asking what else I can do, I proposed my ideas. Doing this changed my experience – I realized that being here it’s an opportunity. It’s a safe place to try things that I never did before. I can experiment – do the workshops, events – and fail as many times as I have to.

The secret is to do more than you are expected. In exchange, you can receive more than you could ever think of.

2. Be open

It’s impossible to live without expectations. Starting a volunteering project, we all have some ideas on how it will look like, what will we do, what type of experience we want to have.

And most of the time, reality doesn’t meet our expectations. We can not predict life. We have to learn how to adapt to and be open about the challenges we face. Being open to new, unexpected accidents can make you see and understand a lot of things as well as create new opportunities. Sticking to your original plan can hold you back on your development, create frustration and make it less enjoyable. So let’s relax, be more open and positive about the things!

3. Slow down! It’s not only about work

After feeling a bit depressed in a phase when I didn’t have enough work to do, I realized how important „work” is in my dictionary. Life of almost all the people are dominated by work; sometimes job becomes a sense of life and the synonymous of success and growth. As my project is not connected with the career path I have chosen, I had lots of moments when I thought that being here, for so many months, is a waste of my time. I can do volunteer part-time and develop a professional career, right?

But then, having in mind the previous point, about being open, I decided that changing my focus on different things for a while can be beneficial even more than professional sucess. It’s a chance to slow down and try new things. For example I discovered that I like cooking

(all my life I thought I am the worst at it) or I came back to drawing and making collages. I woldn’t do that in „normal life”, because I am too busy to take care of my hobbies and I don’t have time to discover all that little things that makes our lives better.

4. Nothing lasts forever

Everything in this world will end at some point. Having that in mind I try to take as much as I can of my experience here. Sightseeing, exploring nature and new cultures, meeting people from all over the world. Every day it’s a possibility of experiencing something new, going out of comfort zone and learning about yourself. Having in mind that my time here is limited, I feel that I want to do all those things almost religiously.

With that being said, I am ending this post, and run to take some sun rays, eat pastel de nata and drink vinho verde! There is never too much of these – that’s for sure my favorite lesson that I’ve learned.

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