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. 

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