21 outubro 2021

O testemunho final do Mikk (SPEAK)

 Everything has to end at some point. Including this voluntary service from February-September 2021. It has been nice 8 months here and
I would like to return at some point, but this would be mostly because of the friends. At this moment, I have many more places that I would like to visit before I come back to Portugal.

A big big respect for all the organizations and my friends, tutors, and mentor. Without these people, the experience would not have been amazing, but in the end, what matters in life is the people. This is something that you can’t buy or measure in money, these people are giving you memories, experiences, and much more.

Also, the party scene in Lisbon is something that I have fallen in love with. People playing guitar on the miradouros (aka viewpoints) while you are enjoying a refreshing drink, is amazing. They are having a chill vibe and everyone is really calm and enjoying a good time. Also, I love the way that people are organizing common events like dinners together and everyone brings their national food. It is really nice and tasty.

Sightseeing has been really great too. I started my experience by just watching the architecture and layout of the houses, but now I have realized that there is more than that. There are numerous places to visit like Belem, Oriente, Telheiras, Entrecampos, Sintra, Palmela, Viana do Castelo and much more coming on my last trip before I leave.

I can’t lie – I have had thoughts of my future elsewhere for the past 2 months now. The First 6 months were good here and all you can do is to enjoy what Portugal has to offer, but now I am thinking of a way to return home and maybe even look further to Taiwan, Asia that is completely on the other side of the world. At some point, I got even a job offer here in Portugal for my logistics specialty. It looked really interesting until I heard about the salary. And the salary was lower than the Estonian average salary at the same post by a big margin. Therefore I realized that it is very difficult to build the future here especially when the rent costs for 1 room are that high. In Estonia one apartment costs the same amount and that is also a big big difference.

The food is one thing that has also made me homesick: can’t wait until I can eat sült, good chips, and sashlik again. Also, there are nice drinks like kvass and beer there. I am not missing my family yet, but I do miss my cute cat. My family will visit me on the last days here anyways and then we will all go back to Estonia together.

20 outubro 2021

O testemunho No. 1 da Teele (SPIN)


Today is my 10th day in Lisbon. I’m still in the process of settling in, but everything has been going well so far. All the other volunteers I’ve met have all been super nice and I’m already quite sure the next nine months are going to be amazing.

Actually, I applied to this project later than the deadline, but fortunately, the process of choosing volunteers was still ongoing. I had an interview with Giulia and after some days I got a letter saying I was picked and had to be in Lisbon on October 1st, which gave me exactly three weeks to prepare. The preparations went surprisingly stress-free. I had been 110% mentally ready to go anyway, so no goodbye tears were shed, no second thoughts had, because there was only room for excitement.

On the day of arrival, another SPIN volunteer Victorien picked me up from the airport. I chose to go 
to my new apartment by public transport. Not so wise decision after all, since my luggage weighed 22 kg and there were numerous stairs on the way, but Victorien kindly helped me carry the luggage up and down. My apartment is situated on top of a hill and the “final boss” was the staircase in front of my apartment. I call it The Stairs From Hell and I still struggle to go up the 77 steps daily.

apartment itself is very Portuguese, it is old but has its charm. For the first time in my life, my room has a balcony and a double bed and I’m thoroughly enjoying it. Currently, I have 3 flatmates (2 recently moved out), a fellow volunteer from Spain, a guy from Brazil, and a guy from Spain. I did have some uncertainties about how a girl from northern Europe would fit in with a bunch of southern folks, but so far it has been really chill. I especially love how there is a lot of music and singing in this apartment.

So what have I been up to these past 10 days? Well, just getting familiar with my
neighborhood and its shops, learning how to get around on foot and using public transport. I’ve also gone to a few bars with other volunteers, had a walk on the promenade along the river, took a train to the Cascais beach, drank a beer at a scenic viewpoint, and wandered around the steep and narrow streets of Alfama. Some days ago I started self-studying Portuguese, but I’m still confused about the pronunciation, especially the nasal sounds.

A few days ago, I, another volunteer from Estonia, and my flatmate from Spain had our Welcome Day at SPIN’s office, which included a lot of practical information, a delicious three-course lunch (what? wow!), a game around the lovely Bairro Padre Cruz neighborhood, and talking about our goals, fears, etc. Giulia has been the nicest tutor ever, so I feel like I am in good hands. 

Overall I really like the diversity and abundant culture here in Lisbon. It seems very colorful and international, full of cool young people. Kind of makes you feel that you can also be
whoever/however you want to be. I’ve been told that it’s easy to get to know new people here, so that is certainly one of the many things I’m looking forward to. 

O testemunho No. 1 da Annamaria (SPIN)

I’ve been in Lisbon for 13 days and it has been wonderful.

When I arrived in Lisbon and was in the taxi I was nervous because I was gonna meet my new flatmates and didn’t know what to expect but when I arrived at the apartment and saw a sign at the door that said ‘’Welcome Annamaria’’ and balloons on the balcony, I knew that we are gonna get along just fine. Everyone in my apartment is so nice, the first thing we did was a little tea party to get to know each other.

These past few days I have been exploring the city and meeting new people. I have to say that the architecture is so different from Estonia, especially for me because I'm from a small town where about 1050 people live and now living in a BIG city is a whole new experience.  One of the things I have noticed is that in Estonia we don't have these little balconies and tiles for our walls. Sidewalks are made of small square rocks, in Estonia, the sidewalks are made of asphalt. The biggest culture shock that I had was on the first day when I learned that people smoke inside. In Estonia, it’s prohibited to smoke inside if it isn’t a smoking room in clubs or bars. Here in Portugal there are so many mountains but in Estonia, we have small hills and one ‘’big’’ mountain, that isn’t really a mountain, it is called Suur Munamägi. So walking around the city was already pretty hard because of the hills. On my second day when I was walking around and saw what type of a hill I had to walk up to, my first thought was that I’m gonna get super strong legs thanks to Lisbon. 

Also, the people I have met are so friendly. Like the other day, some people came to our flat and we all just talked about how life was going and how life is in everyone's countries.

  On the 6th of October, I had my first meeting at the Spins office where I, Teele, and Amundelia were. We got so much information about our organization and what we need to do and talked about our expectations, fears, and how to get over them. We had this amazing lunch that other volunteers had made for us. We ate tomato soup with mozzarella, rice with vegetables and ice cream. After lunch, we had to walk around this beautiful neighborhood a bit to answer some questions and take pictures on an app. One of the questions led us to a viewpoint that was breathtaking.