New volunteer (wait, and where is EVA?!)

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Where is the time gone?! This is the first thing that I could say about my first few weeks in FAJDP as an EVS volunteer. From the beginning of February in the project I changed Eva. However, I am not really new to Porto.

Moreover, I have a strong reason to believe that my story is probably a little bit different. Although I am joining EVS in the middle of it, I know Porto. From September I was doing my internship in university of Porto, SINTESIS research group. My main interests were aging issues. I loved it! But all good things end one day (especially, when they are funded). January was rather stressful month for me. As being a person who hates making decisions, I had to make quite a big one and relatively fast: stay or not to stay in Porto for…upcoming year.

And I decided to say YES (applause and shouting in the distance).

Is it made my life as an easy walk near the ocean? Well, not at all! When I finally started my EVS in FAJDP, I realized that I have to adopt for bunch of different things again.

-There is the new place in totally different surroundings than I was used to.

-There are 2 volunteers with whom I am going to share the flat, my worries, laughs and courses (kidding).

-There are activities about which I knew only approximately.

It still feels as the new brand beginning for me.

Another story to write in this amazingly beautiful city.

Story full of different projects with children in Lavra and Catapulta (together with realization how terribly convenient it was to learn only few words while staying here for more than 4 months), discussions with my colleagues (while realizing how amazingly satisfying is to talk in Lithuanian with another volunteer), events to organize (the music evening is coming!), interviews/work/talks with different organizations (and learning from good practices).

Story full of little observations about the life and the world around me which are soon going to land in my Personal project about cultural differences. Let’s talk… about coffee! Do you think drinking coffee here it is the same as doing it in Lithuania? Think again (and keep checking our blog)!

Story full of new Portuguese phrases in Portuguese classes (Hip hip hooray!), realization that Duolingo is actually teaching you Brazilian Portuguese instead of European Portuguese, rescue mission by fireman from being stuck in the bathroom for the rest of my life.

 

The beginnings are never easy. They will never be.

But they always push you beyond your comfort zone, are breath-taking and beautiful.

Long life for the new beginnings!

 

Gabija, Lithuania

 

Lithuania

Lithuania is a country in the Baltic region of northern–eastern Europe. One of the three Baltic states, located on the shore of Baltic sea.

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Lithuania is one of the developing countries in the European Union. One of the fastest Internet in Europe, great nightlife, beautiful nature, low living costs and not crowded surroundings makes it a great country to visit, study or stay for the volunteering project. Although if you are afraid of rain, wind and cold, it may be not so pleasant in winter.

Vilnius         Capital of Lithuania – Vilnius

In the 14th century, Lithuania was one of the largest and powerful countries in Europe. Our history is preserved in highly-worth to visit and impressive monuments, buildings, and museums that you can find in every city, big or small, of Lithuania.

Trakai Island Castle in Galve Lake            Trakai Island Castle – the former residence of the Grand Dukes

Nevertheless, biggest cities are modern and European, with developed and comfortable public transport, touristic activities, bars, clubs, and restaurants.

kaunas                            Kaunas Old town

Lithuania is also known for it’s beautiful and untouched nature. Only 3-hour ride from the capital and you can be on the opposite side of Lithuania – stunning seashore.

papludimys                        Karkle beach
nida                        Nida

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Vilnius

Historical capital of Lithuania. Vilnius is classified as a Gamma global city according to GaWC studies, and is known for the architecture in its Old Town, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994. In 2009, Vilnius was the European Capital of Culture. After declaring Independency in 1991, Vilnius fastly started developing and now it’s modern, multicultural and active European city. There are 65 churches in Vilnius. Like most medieval towns, Vilnius was developed around its Town Hall. The main artery, Pilies Street, links the Royal Palace with Town Hall. The Old Town of Vilnius, the historical center of Vilnius, is one of the largest in Europe and the most valuable historic and cultural sites are concentrated here.

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Lithuania is a small country with well-developed roads and infrastructure. Due to that, other cities in Lithuania are very easily reached.

Kaunas

Second-largest city of Lithuania. While Vilnius was incorporated into Poland, Kaunas served as temporary capital of Lithuania during the interwar period. During that period it has been nicknamed the Little Paris because of rich cultural and academic life, fashion, construction of countless Art Deco, Lithuanian National Romanticism architectural style buildings as well as popular furniture, interior design of the time and widespread café culture. The city inter-war architecture is regarded as one of the finest examples of the European Art Deco and received the European Heritage Label, it also resulted in naming Kaunas the first city in Central and Eastern Europe as a UNESCO City of Design. In 2022, Kaunas will be the European Capital of Culture.

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Pocket vocabulary:

  1. Labas (hi)
  2. Kaip sekas? (how are you?)
  3. Gerai (good)
  4. Ačiū (thank you)
  5. Koks tavo vardas? (what’s your name?)
  6. Mano vardas yra… (my name is…)
  7. Malonu susipažinti (nice to meet you)
  8. Alus (beer)
  9. Viso gero (bye)
  10. Aš noriu… (I want…)

 

New year’s eve celebration in Porto

For the first time, New year’s eve was celebrated far away from our countries, in the new place that we already call home – Porto. Apparently, meeting of the New years is very loud, entertaining and, most importantly, fun. Concerts in Avenida dos Aliados, fireworks displays and lots of other activities that were available during the whole holiday season. We greeted New years with hope and positivity, surrounded by a lot of locals and foreigners in, probably, one of the most beautiful and festive city in Europe.

naujakas                                  ©portolazer.pt

 

Volunteering in Greece

The latest years the EVS became very popular in Greece. Many youth organizations send and host young people from Europe and from other countries in order to participate in voluntary programs. If anyone is interested to be a volunteer in a Greek city or island, it is more than sure that he will have much fun!

Generally, people in Greece are open and friendly and they integrate easily with people who have different backgrounds. Tourism is the strongest industry of the country and because of that, the locals know how to interact with foreigners. They will invite you to their house, they will cook traditional food for you, they will go out with you in the best places etc.

Life is easy, the weather is mostly sunny, but the winters are cold and the transportation is fine. The capital has metro and all the other cities have buses. The majority of the people speak at least English and usually more languages.

There are plenty of things to do in Greece. It’s a country that never sleeps. From early in the morning until the dawn you will always see people on the streets. Most of the cities are student cities, that’s why they are vivid and full of life.

A relaxing and fun option for the summer is to go to the beach. There are countless villages next to the beach. Some of them are calm. In those, you will have the opportunity to enjoy the nature and eat in a traditional restaurant across the seaside. On the other hand, you can find ‘’party villages’’ that they transform the quite environment into a dance floor! There, you can listen to the music loudly until the next morning. A lot of drinks and a lot of dance is waiting for you.

The other months the young people stay in the city because of their studies or their jobs. In their free time, they participate in sports clubs, in art clubs, in theater clubs or volunteering. They watch football and basketball games on tv and live as well.

As you already know, the weather is fine, so they usually walk by the seaside with their friends, or they ride a bike there. At evenings they drink beers together. In my city (Thessaloniki) there is a citadel where the young people hang out and they have the most wonderful view of the city, especially at nights. You can just sit on the rocks and enjoy the view, or you could choose some coffee shops or restaurants that offer you the same. This place is named ”Kastra” (literally translated as castles). The same place in Athens is called ”Thiseio”. In Thiseio there are huge rocks where you can sit with your company and see the entire city from a high place.

The 2 symbolic places that you must visit are the White Tower in Thessaloniki and the Acropolis in Athens. And of course, it would be nice to visit at least an island. You will never forget this beauty.

The prices of several products :

a loaf of bread – from 0,60 cents

milk – from 0,90 cents

beer – from 1,5 euro

drinks – from 7 euros

gyros (typical greek food) – from 3 euros

spaghetti – from 0,60 cents.

Basic greek words

Hello – γεια (ya)

Thank you – ευχαριστώ (efharisto)

You´re welcome – παρακαλώ (parakalo)

How are you? – τι κάνεις; (ti kanis)

I am fine, you? – καλα εσυ;  (kala esi)

In conclusion, you won’t have trouble to adapt in Greece. The beginning might be hard but eventually, you will find lots of ways to spend your time there and of course meet a lot of different people!

White tower in Thessaloniki                                                          White tower in Thessaloniki

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA                                                                 Acropolis of Athens

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA                                                                Kastra of Thessaloniki

Milos (Greek island)                                                                  Milos (Greek island)

 

Movie night – ”Naked” (1993)

We turned our office into a movie theatre for our first monthly event!

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We watched a drama, called ”Naked”, which was written and directed by Mike Leigh, in 1993. British movie follows Johnny, a highly intelligent but cynic, misogynist and rude man, first seen fleeing his native Manchester after committing what appears to be an act of sexual assault and his wanderings of the streets of London. After the overwhelming and exciting movie, we shared our thoughts about the characters and the story itself. What a fun night!

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On-arrival Training in Guimarães

Last week of November we spent in the oldest city of Portugal – Guimarães, where all the EVS volunteers from all over the Portugal were getting ready for their upcoming adventures.

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All week was fun, fulfilling, and intense.  We learned a lot of things, that could help us to prepare for all the challenges during the EVS, such as adaptation to cultural differences, communication between partners and co-workers, objectives of EVS and Erasmus+ projects, in general. Also, we had an opportunity to share our knowledge in workshops, that were organized by volunteers themselves. There we learned how to cook the best Italian pizza, understand basic Sign language, use laughter as medicine and how to have the best experience while travelling in Greece or Hungary. We even learned about origins of rap music and the meaning behind it.

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Besides learning, we could explore Guimarães and dive into Portuguese culture and history. We had an opportunity to visit a magnificent castle, take a walk around the beautiful old town and even participate in the traditional event Nicolinas. Thanks to our amazing trainers and all the other volunteers we came back home from Guimarães happier and even more motivated to work towards our goals in this EVS experience.

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New volunteers in town! First month in Porto

In october we, Emre, Eva, and Miglė arrived from our home countries to Porto. What were our experiences during the first month here?

Eva:

At first it was challenging to adapt to life in Porto. Everything and everyone were unknown to me, I didn’t know where are the best places to go, how to move in the city and everyday details like those. Also, I couldn’t understand the metro system, it was hard for me to figure out until which zone should I move. Besides that, slowly I started my activities. My very first activity was with ‘’Refugees Welcome’’. I went with them in Vila Nova de Gaia and we helped a Syrian lady to fix her documents. The next days my flatmates and I, were helping the ‘’It gets better’’ association. They were about to celebrate their 5th anniversary and there were a lot of things to do! Finally, the anniversary party was successful and we had so much fun! Meanwhile, I cooperate with ‘’Catapulta’’, an organization that focuses on activities that offer knowledge and important values to the children, especially the ones with a darker background. It’s been almost a month and so far I have learned enough about children. Also, this is the best practice to me in Portuguese. The kids are excited when they teach me their language. From now on, I will have more activities with Catapulta and I will take personal initiatives. I can’t wait.

Emre:

I studied cinema and TV in the university. After graduation, I interned at some agencies. Then I worked as a corporate communication specialist in the Turkish Educational Foundation. I wanted to work in my department abroad for a long time and EVS was a great opportunity to do this as a volunteer. I got accepted from Portugal. And now I’ve been in Porto for this past month. I’m working in communication in FAJDP. Now, we work with many associations which are in the field of art, social activism and culture. Being in a wonderful city like Porto is a great feeling for me, a person who has never had an abroad experience. It’s so exciting to have an opportunity to be here for a year.

Miglė:

This past month for me was very overwhelming and fun. I met a lot of wonderful people, who work in various fields here, in Portugal. I’m very interested in politics and social improvement, as well as in youth policies and mobility. We had an opportunity to visit FNAJ (National Federation of Youth Associations) National seminary in Chaves, which was very exciting for me just because I’m so interested in subjects, that were covered in the speeches and discussions. Also, we had a few trips with our friends from Portuguese class, such as to Braga and Gerês National Park. On daily basis I’m working on opening a library in House of Associations, I’m learning to film and edit videos, as well as communicating with an audience through social media. We are planning upcoming events, trips, and activities. A lot of work, but, at the same time, a lot of fun!

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