Farewell, my friends

Just for you to know, these words do not look real. The packing is done. My tickets are bought, the place that has been my home during a year is ready, my room is practically empty… And yet, everything seems so unreal to me.

It is really hard to realize the fact these are my last words for you in this blog.

So you can expect this post to be shorter, since saying goodbye is very hard for me, but I have to do it. I owe it to all those of you who have read me at some point.

I am going to miss Faro a lot. Its sunsets, the sound of the birds, the light you have here. I will miss the Ria Formosa and the amazing feeling you get whenever you stop a little, just to observe the landscape. I will miss the constant “oh, they are doing something there”, the music, the street art, the performances. My house, yet old but simply adorable and unique, our incredible rooftop and even the neighbours’ dog, which always barks at me when I am hanging the clothes! Jezz, I think I am even going to miss the noisy people in the street during weekends!

However, above all, I will miss people and my daily day here. My team from CCVAlg and ECOS, which have been a real family for me during this experience. Not even a single day I felt alone or unprotected, thanks to all of you for such affection and love.

Obrigada para sempre, Faro, because you crossed my path at the perfect time. Thanks for all your lessons, for the laughs, the incredible people and for your magic sunsets, which will always occupy a unique place in my heart.

Até já, meus queridos e queridas 🙂

Luisa

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39 days

39 Days…

Summer has already gone. I knew it would be fast, but not that fast! Holidays back home and in Canary Islands (my sister got married!), beach, raising environmental awareness at the Centro Ciência Viva do Algarve, while taking people to the Apollo 11 Mission and to outer-space with the Planetarium that we have in here right now. Looking after the creatures of the Apalpário and observing, day by day, my beloved Seahorses and our baby Choquito. This has been my summer. My amazing and fantastic summer.

Today I have realized that I just have 39 days left in Faro. 39 days to finish my project, to finish my role as a European Volunteer and the feelings are quite mixed. I feel like I am ready for the next step but, at the same time, I cannot but feel sad and afraid for leaving all this behind, all these great people I have found so far, a job that I like a lot, the Marina and its sunsets, and even my old-warm-noisy house.

In order to make this farewell less hard, what I will be doing during these 39 days is to join different activities whenever I can, while I keep up with my work.

The summer in the CCVAlg has passed raising awareness amongst local people and tourists. I have been able to talk to a lot of people and showing them the creatures of the Ria Formosa: hermit crabs, normal crabs, peacock blenny, toadfish, cuttlefish, seahorses…

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I have learnt so much about these amazing animals while teaching others 🙂 Meanwhile, as part of my constant process of learning, I got the chance to work at a Planetarium! Apollo 11 Mission, galaxies, constellations…Another fantastic experience that Faro has given to me!

 

But let’s come back to the “amazing things before leaving”, because I have done the first one of them. Something I have always wanted to do and yesterday, finally, I could accomplish: caving.  Yes my dears. Almost three hours, down there, climbing, dragging in the mud, in the darkness…..The results? I WANT TO DO IT AGAIN!!!

The Cave em Vale Telheiro is in Loulé, and I went there thanks to the activities of Ciência Viva no Verão. Here you have the list of the ones left! Be brave, and sign up for one: https://www.cienciaviva.pt/veraocv/2019/ Our guides during the expedition were part of Geonauta (Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Geonauta-127596620605567/) and they looked after us and helped us to face our fears. Here you have an image of myself, before and after this adventure! (Special attention to my shoes…)

We went down and down, witnessing salas and salas within the cave. Columns, stalactites and stalagmites in our way. Narrow spaces, in which you apparently could not possibily fit….but you actually can!! Spiders hidden somewhere and small scorpions too (just possible to see them in the caves of the Algarve!). Unfortunatelly we could not see any of these animals, because even though they are blind, they have marvellous and super developed senses of smell and hearing!!! And mud, orange mud that covers your skin, your clothes, your head…Amazing isn’t it??? :D:D

Here you have some more pictures (and I do not discard the fact of showing you more as soon as I have them). The first and last photo correspondes to the entrance/exit of the cave. Narrow spaces, my friends. The very first moments I could swear that I would not fit, I promise!

I truly encourage you to be brave and do always what you want to do! Even if it seems scary, dark, impossible to do…Try it! The feelings after these “jumps” are, simply, indescribable.

See you in the next post (before you can imagine, remember: 39 days….).

Thanks for reading.

Beijinhos!

Luisa

Back and forth!

Hello people!!

It has been a long time since the last time I shared my experiences and thoughts with all of you. In my defense, I will say that my time had been quite limited the last months and my computer has gone through very, veeeery difficult moments. Now he is getting better, no worries 🙂

Last time I spoke about OPTO and how A-M-A-Z-I-N-G it was for me. In the middle of my silence, my colleague has also writen down a super nice post talking about a moment that is coming close for me as well: the farewell (I strongly recommend you to read it, especially if you are in “that” moment too, or just to see what it feels like to finish a voluntary service).

Let’s come back to OPTO and what happened after it: weeks of activities with kids, having a lot of fun. I went to Albufeira and Olhão, for the Semana da Criança and we carried out super cool games with the kids, all of them with a scientific base. Their faces when you explain to them why things happen like they do….Are PRICELESS! I promise 🙂

After that, I went to Alte to assist one of my colleagues of the CCVAlg. We did a “drawing electronic machines” using recycled materials and small batteries so they could move! Is it not amazing? It was the first time I worked with things involving electricity (low intensity, nothing dangerous) and I “adorei” it!!

 

 

We also had a Chess Tournament (see me as the Queen in the pictures xD) and a the first Colóquio Internacional Marés de Histórias, with the association AJUDARIS. Did you know them? They carry out really nice projects with kids. Here you have their website, in case you want to know more: http://www.ajudaris.org/site/

Then, after all these amazing weeks and funny activities, another of the remarkable moments during my EVS arrived: MID-TERM TRAINING. This time I went to Serra da Estrela. Another useful experience, full of learning and new people.

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And then, just a week after my Mid Term, thanks to ECOS I had the amazing opportunity to participate in the Young European Forum for Social Cohesion in Berlin. The opportunity came to me randomly, but I took it. And here, dears, is one of the things I have learnt so far during my EVS: BE ACTIVE AND GRAB THE OPPORTUNITIES THAT APPEAR IN YOUR WAY!! DO NOT BE SCARED!! Fear or shyness wont lead you to have great moments, the contrary! If I had not been brave and active, I could not have gone to Berlin which would have been a pity, because the experience was marvellous and Berlin….What can I say? I was really looking forward to visit it because, even though I was in Germany for my Erasmus, my city was quite far from the capital and I did not have the chance to go there!

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We were there for three days, talking about different ways for fostering and promoting Social Cohesion while Building Bridges in a world of biodiversity. I met a lot of new and very interesting people, which gave me the possibility to strengthened my network (today: the most important tool you have to improve your employability). Besides, I learnt a lot about Social Cohesion and how important is for the correct development of more open, inclusive and free societies. Last, but not least, I saw a lot of strength amongst us: very powerfull people, creative and really stubborn, working together in different countries to achieve the same thing.

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So, as you can see, the last two months have been quite strong for me: full of things, new experiences, new people, a broken computer, a broken camara (I am still trying to get over this loss…) but, above all: a lot of constant learning!!!

Thank you for reading and see you in the next post!

Beijinhos!

 

Luisa

The Timely Deliberations of a Veteran Volunteer

Slow down. Take a deep breath. That unsettling feeling in the pit of your stomach that keeps nagging you with increasing intensity? It’s the (un)welcome feeling of future, coming out to get you. It is of no consequence whatsoever if you planned for this – whether you have considered and deliberated all of your options, if you have a clear path or if your only plan is to hide under someone’s stairs. Because wherever your time during EVS has led you, it is now almost over and the time has come to move forward.

It is very familiar to us all – some of us are planners, some are going with the flow. And let’s face it, none of us is Harry Potter, so the option of hiding under someone’s stairs is most likely out. And so, we continue on. We continue with a new perspective, with an experience we will never forget. Hopefully we move towards a goal with a new set of skills we have acquired throughout our period under EVS.

A lot of us are still in doubt and we know full well that things will never be the same. From now on we will no longer be under the care and mentorship of our coordinators, supervisors and mentors. And while it is a daunting thought, it is also supposed to be a freedom of sorts. A freedom to continue the exploration on your own. To go out and create, spread out and involve ourselves in something worthwhile, something we could be proud of.

But perhaps this time, these last hours, days, weeks or even months should not only be spent worrying about things to come. Maybe we should stop, think, and appreciate all we have seen, experienced and gained. Whether it is some new interesting hobbies, extensive travels, new friends or even a different way you take your coffee every morning – we have all been somehow changed, reshaped by this experience.

On my part, I am forever grateful for the opportunity. An opportunity to breathe, to see and to change my life. To explore, to experience a period of carefree exploration, and to learn, in so many ways! And wherever life takes me next (and I do only hope for even better things to come), this I will always see as a year that has changed my life forever…

 

 

With the best of wishes for the future,

 

A

OPTO – A place to remember

Hello hello my dear readers!!!

It has been a long time since I posted someone for you. My apologies, but these past weeks have been full of stuff to do!

My Portuguese is improving a lot because most of the activities I am doing…ARE IN COMPLETE PORTUGUESE! The effect of six months of linguistic exposure are starting to give really important results.

As I have previously told you, these past weeks have been full of things to do: Clean-ups in Faro beach and Albufeira, visiting and photographing Ilha da Culatra, helping with new exhibitions at the Centro Ciência Viva, a whole weekend making “Ciencia Fresquinha! showing the people different experiments and reactions and, finally, another moment to add to the list of “favourite experiences” that I have had here so far: OPTO!!!

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OPTO is a cool place, with music, spectacles, workshops….A place where you can see different options for your future: universities, professional schools, the military service, places where you can volunteer, art schools language academies, Erasmus programmes… EVERYTHING!!!You can also eat the marvellous dishes prepared by different cooking schools and even can take part in different workshops (for example, I had a basic training on First Aid thanks to the Red Cross).

All this fun is mixed with different spectacles made mostly by students, police and firefighters! Music, dance, trained animals, climbing wall, capoeria exhibitions….Could we ask for more? YES! The fantastic, amazing, terrific and magnific game that we, the Centro Ciência Viva do Algarve, brought to such a great event 🙂

A game for everybody, where your logic and creativity are tested. I loved this game because it was extremely interesting to see how different people can react in order to face and obstacle and solve it. The fact that everything needed to be explained in Portuguese, made this experience even better for me 😀 I enjoyed it so much that I even tested myself at some point too!!

As you can imagine, I had a lot of fun and I learned quite a lof of new things too. These fairs are really important to help young people to discover their path. Having the chance to see “from a closer point of view” something that calls your attention, can be the key to follow a way or just realize that you better follow another! So….please, whenever you have the possibility to go to such events: DO IT!

You never know which is the best-quickest way to follow your passions until you actually see it!!!

Hugs to all!

Luisa

 

 

Almost half-way of this incredible journey…

Hi dears! Tudo bem? Seguro que sim!

Today I woke up with a thought in my mind: on Monday is my EVS’ six months birthday. Six months! Can you believe it? Time flies when you are enjoying it!

Due to this, while I was in bed, I have started to recapitulate how my “mobility inquisitiveness” started, and this is what I am going to talk about in this post, because I think it is nice to share knowledge and it is important to encourage others to do the same 🙂

Are you ready to see a “younger Luisa” ? Forbidden to laugh, eh!

There we go!!

After growing up in a conservative and traditional family, my fear but also my curiosity about our world began to grow up. With time, curiosity won over fear, and a new feeling showed up: patience. When I was 16, I decided that my moment would arrive: as soon as I could, I would go on an Erasmus programme, no matter what!

And there I was! Years later! Heading to Germany! 🙂 I was scared, happy, anxious, super excited…but, overall, I was super proud of myself because I finally got to do it: overcome my fears and travel abroad completely alone, to live during six months in a complete different place! Going out of your comfort zone is, by far, the best feeling you can have, I promise.

My experience in Germany is, even today, one of the best and most special ones I have ever had so far. The chance of being alone in a place where EVERYTHING is new, using a different language, in a different culture, taught me important lessons that have helped to shape a better version of myself. It also gave me people who still are good friends, even though the distance. Now I am more open-minded, more social, braver and even more stubborn too: you must always chase what you want to do, no matter what!!

Years later, after I finished my Bachelor and my Master Studies, I found myself stucked and in a point where my “adult life” (paying renting + fixed-job-that-I-did-not-completely- like + no time for myself or to develop my education/experience in the field that I love the most) I decided it was enough, and I started an EVS programme in Faro, Portugal 🙂 as all of you know 🙂

One more time out of my comfort zone 😀 One more time far away from home. One more time living in a different culture, using a different language everyday and YES, meeting new people who will be friends forever!

The best part? Well, this experience is giving me the chance to get expertise in Conservation (my beloved, dreamt field) and….(drum rolls now – although you already know this) I AM EVEN WRITING MY OWN PROJECT ABOUT CONSERVATION OF SPECIES HERE IN THE RIA FORMOSA!!!! Isn’t it amazing? :):):)

Apart from that, this experience is helping me to “dive” in other passions and abilities such as, photography and translation. I am also taking part in different and interesting activities for promoting Youth Mobility in local High Schools!

Coming to Portugal, as well as going to Germany, have been the best decisions of my life because they are the ones I never regret. Of course not all the time is 100% positive and great, but even in the difficult moments you get to learn something new about yourself and how to manage situations in the best of the ways.

And well….having places like this around (picture below: Ilha da Culatra) help A LOT in those days which are not the best ones!!

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The Erasmus programme and my EVS are making of me a very resilient, fast-learning person and they have given to me a lot of friends and interesting people who are part of myself now. Thanks to both programmes, I have visited amazing places such as Burg Castle or Cochem in Germany, and Praia da Culatra or Viana do Castelo in Portugal (more places to come here, for sure, I’m staying until October!!!). It has also given to me the chance to meet very important people in personal and professional terms.

So YES DEAR PEOPLE, I will always strongly recommend to everybody to move and go abroad! To prove themselves and to get out of their comfort zone, because that is actually the best possible way to find your best you and the best experiences!!!!

As always: thanks for reading and I hope you like this post! It is kind of special to me 🙂

Bom dia e beijinhos!!

Luisa

Memories of an international friendship…

Hello everybody!

Today I am going to tell you about one of the best experiences I have had since I am here in Faro. It was at the beginning of March though! But I still feel it as if I had lived it yesterday 🙂

Let’s do a quick sum up using words to “give you a smell” of it: INTERNATIONAL FRIENDS-TRAVELLING-TRAINING. Can you figure out something? Yes? No?

Here we go….(drum roll now)…..ON ARRIVAL TRAINING!!!! 

What is it?: It is a training made for the EVS that are in Portugal. The idea is to explain the volunteers which will be their situation, insurance stuff, duties and rights of the volunteers, other projects and associations, develop tools and ideas for the future, get inspiration for future projects and, ABOVE ALL: ENJOY AND MAKE NEW FRIENDS!

Where is it?: It depends, because everytime is in a different place. In my case, the OAT was in the beautiful Viana do Castelo (L) (L) I’m still dreaming about Bolo de Berlim….

What do you do in there?: A lot of dinamics related to team work, volunteering, the EVS programme, creativity, social skills…Great activities in general, really well-done as well by the trainers! (Thanks a lot to Ana, Ana, Sara and Joana).

How much time you are there?: A week 🙂 In a hotel, sharing room with another volunteer (Mara, best roomate!!!

Do you have to pay for it?: Noooop!! Not at all!! You will enjoy a marvellous full pension service!! (Forget about buying food, coocking and WASHING DISHES for A WHOLE WEEK, my dears!!)

Laughs, friends, cool dynamics, parties, more friends, different cultures, languages, different cities of Portugal and a huge amount of projects and associations. The OAT was a mix of all these amazing things and that is why it is such an emotional and important experiencie for the volunteer.

Even though all days were special, I would like to talk to you (briefly) about one of the best ones that we had: our “free day to explore Viana”.

The most famous point of Viana is the Santuário do Monte de Santa Luzia and its great miradouro, so we decided to go there first. 400 steps, totally worth it, though. There is also the option to use a cableway, but we were spartans!! After arriving, we stayed there for a while, enjoying the stunning views. Even though it was cloudy, we had a really great time there.

 

What a great day 😀 After this, we went to the beach to see the sunset. There, a savage Atlantic Ocean welcomed us with all his strenght and power.  The rest of the time, we were doing different activities and dynamics (all of them really interesting) and getting to know each other better. Well, we did that and we also ATE-A-LOT.

We were super food-spoiled in Viana by the people who took care of us during our stay 🙂 We agreed over the fact that coming back to reality was going to be suuuuper hard xD

Since blog posts are supposed to be something short and light, I am obliged to finish here, my dears. However, before saying good bye to you, I would like to remark something from this great experience:

The best part of the OAT was, without hesitation or doubts, the friends you make there. It is amazing how barely in a week, you get so close to all these new people who, from that moment onwards, will be part of your life forever! It may sounds exagerate but I can promise you that was our feeling all the time  🙂

Thanks to all of you, my friends of Viana, for making this so special, and thanks as well to the ones who read this blog. I honestly hope you enjoy this chance of “having a peek” on such a great moment in my volunteering experience 🙂

Love and hugs from Faro.

Luisa

On the importance of sharing.

What do pink soup, crab hunting and Spanish stereotypes have in common? Might be more than you think!

 

We are very glad to remember our experiences in the school meeting of Pinheiro e Rosa in Faro. During a meeting, a group of volunteers from Portugal, Spain, Greece, Lithuania and Martinique were present to introduce their organizations, countries and the types of volunteering possibilities available for young people.

 

And so, on a nice Friday afternoon the volunteers were happy to review some peculiarities of their countries and what they do here, in Faro. Because sometimes one has to wonder, of all the places you could choose, why the south of Portugal?

Portunhol cross-borders encounter!!

Hello everybody!! Olá! ¡Hola!

I have GREAT news to share with all of you!! :):) A new INCREDIBLE-AMAZING-MEMORABLE experience that my voluntary service has given to me.

The 3º Diálogo de Cidadãos Transfronteiriço entre Portugal e Espanha :):):)

IMG_2799What was all that about? Well, as you know European Elections are getting closer. It is very important that us (young people) do not forget about voting. The core of this international encounter was to promote the intention to vote amongst Portuguese and Spanish youngsters, explaining them how the system works and where can they look for information about the political parties and the Spitzenkandidaten at the moment.  To know more about this, go to: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/at-your-service/en/be-heard/elections

Here you also have a tool that finds your “match” (of course you are always free to vote whoever you prefer :D), but this can help you a little bit to decide: https://www.politico.eu/interactive/youvote-eu/ 

We also had a quick overview on several topics such as Animal Welfare, Schengen Space, European Taxes…and what is the current position of Europe over such topics and what  should be done, according to the young people. An intercultural moment of sharing different languages, different nationalities and varied opinions but the same wish: to have a better Europe for everybody.

The first part of the encounter was in Spain, in San Silvestre de Guzmán ! YES, FOR A COUPLE OF HOURS I CAME BACK HOME! I can promise you: the fact of “crossing the frontier” between Portugal and Spain is something I am never going to get used to, because it is SO SMALL: the distance of a bridge (and not even a long one!). The first part was devoted to explain the European political situation right now and, again: the importance of taking part in such a democratic process.

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The second part was in Portugal, in Vila Real de Santo Antonio (again: 30 minutes of a nice boat-trip and you change the country! It is crazy!). This part was more focused on the debates about some European topics and concerns, as well as to explain everybody which kind of Political Parties can we find with in the Europe Parliament, and all the tools that are available in order to know more about them.

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As for me? I was there doing a multi-tasks role:

  • I was there as part of the European Solidarity Corps, which, of course must be present in such events. Not only for our conection with young people, but also for everything we – proudly – represent.
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(This is me, as you can see: honouring the European Solidarity Corps xD. Quite a big fan of them)
  • Due to Cristina Veiga (Director of Centro Ciência Viva do Algarve) had been invited to drive one of the groups of debate, I was there to importalise such a moment (as well as to keep developing my skills as photographer xD)
  • During the debate, I am glad to say that I helped a little bit 🙂 I took part on it, helping to stand out some ideas and opinions 🙂

In a nutshell, it was a great experience for me. I really loved the thing of splitting the event between Portugal and Spain 🙂 Definately, it is a good way to streghtend the brotherhood that we should have. The fact of making this encounter to, somehow, empower young people’s right to have a voice, a decision, made me feel very emotional and hopeful 🙂

As always: thanks for reading my words 🙂

¡Un abrazote!

Luisa

 

 

Hello 2019!!!

Olá a tudos! Boa tarde from Faro to the world 🙂

Happy New Year – Feliz Año – Bon Ano to all of our readers! (With a little bit of delay, sorry :D:D)

We hope you had a great Christmas Time and that this first month of the year has been really good and interesting to all of you.

In my case (Luisa), I can say that 2019 promises to be a full-of-things year.

When I arrived from Spain after my Christmas’ Holidays the exhibition of the spiders here at the Centro Ciência Viva do Algarve had ended. I knew that in advance, of course, but still: coming upstairs and not seeing there my hairy-eight-legs friends was kind of sad.

However, my saudade (Portuguese word that you use when you miss something) because of the spiders did not last too much…A new thing was coming.

I started to work as, let’s call it, “artistic assistant” for setting up the new temporary exhibition at the CCVAlg: “Érase uma vez a Ria”. This work portrays the sea bed in a very special way. Do you want to see it? 🙂

The project was really interesting and beautiful and from the very first moment it cought my atention. All the things that visitors are to going to see are hand-made by different groups of people. Just with recylced material, imagination and really hard work they have managed to do this wonder of colours and light, which tries to raise awareness about thehuge amount of  plastic in our oceans.

For the record: I totally loved to be part of this. I had never worked as “artistic assitant” and I have to say I found it amazing and interesting.

The exhibition will be here until the 31st of March so I highly recommend you to come by and visit! You won’t regret!!

After that I have to admit that I have been quite busy over here! Appart from writing the project one day I will explain to you, in the Centro do Ciência Viva we also had a big event: the “Encontro de Clubes de Ciência Viva” where a lot of partners – and possible partners too – joined us in Faro to know a little bit more about what we do in the CCVAlg and the possible options of developing new projects together.

Next time, more and better!

As always, thanks a lot for reading (L)

Kisses and hugs!!!

Luisa