Welcoming Erasmus students : a small chat with Rafael and Nuno from ESN

NB: Há uma versão da entrevista em português no fim do artigo. 

Erasmus events have played a great role in our social integration in Porto and we wouldn’t know a lot of our friends (big up) without them! However we always told ourselves that we would get tired pretty fast of always being surrounded by noisy and excited Erasmus people. We thought that an interview with some members of ESN would be a good way to understand their motivations, as well as to make them share with us some of their favorite spots here.


Porto Pulses: Can you present yourself briefly and explain what led you to join ESN Porto?

Rafael: I am not originally from Porto but from Viseu, a smaller city, in the center of Portugal, I study veterinary sciences. I have been part of ESN for one year now, and, apparently, I am the President!

I joined the buddy program in 2011, and since then I’ve always had several buddies every semester, I even ended up living with Erasmus. So actually I have been doing the job of an ESN member with my Erasmus friends for a long time: showing them the city, the good spots etc. 

Besides, I am also the president of the Portuguese Association of Protection of Living Beings. I funded it when I was 21. I always cared about the environment, probably because I grew up in the countryside, with animals. Thus, I always had that conscious.  But now I don’t have time anymore for this association.   

Nuno: I’m Nuno, I am 21 years old. I study music production:  I started in Lisbon and last year I came back studying in Porto, my city.

I am quite new in ESN; I only joined like one month ago. Why ESN? Well, I have a difficult personality, I need to do a lot of things all the time or else I get bored. Last year I did an Interrail by myself and I enjoyed it very much. When I went back I got an invitation from a friend about ESN and I decided to try: I did and I liked it!  For me it is more a way to meet people who do a lot of things, and to be part of this dynamic. It’s more personal and less about showing my city to Erasmus.

I belong to the “Project team”: it is a team more social, which is in charge of the volunteering activities. Our 1st activity this year was the solidarity barbecue whose profits were given to the firemen. Our next main project is the organization of the Social week in November, it is an international ESN project which means that this week is happening in all ESNs of Europe. It is about creating links between local associations and Erasmus. Each day will be dedicated to a specific theme (environment, poverty etc).

We are also working in another international ESN project, MapAbility which aims at creating a map of the accessibility and services provided by European Higher Education Institutions for students with disabilities.

PP: What is the role of ESN international and when was it created?

R: ESN international was created in 1990, its head office is in Brussels and the ESN of every country is represented there. The creation of ESN was a response to the need of a better support to Erasmus students in their hosting university.

They are several international projects, and each ESN section is more or less free to implement it at its own level.

PP: What have you learned by being part of the ESN and meeting people from so many countries?

R: I would say that what I mostly learned through the contact of Erasmus is to have a different perspective of the world; you see that at a personal level, it’s quite easy to get along with people from everywhere.

N: I feel the same more or less; the experiences I like to have the most are the ones that make you feel like we are all pretty much the same, more than the ones that underline our cultural differences.

PP: What has been your favorite ESN event until now?

R: The Erasmus National Meeting in Algarve, last April: it is a gathering of all the ESN sessions of Portugal and it is opened to all Erasmus of the country. It was my first meeting with other sections of Portugal and actually ESN Porto is one of the biggest and more experiences section of the country and I enjoy sharing my experiences with others. But the National Meeting was not about that, it was about having fun, it’s like Spring Break for us!

And I enjoyed organizing the Portuguese night, it was a lot of work but it was rewarding. I gathered Portuguese typical bands, fado music, Portuguese food etc.

PP: What do you want to share with Erasmus students about Portugal and Porto?

R: Mainly our gastronomy and I also like to show a little bit of our history throughout the trips that we organize.

N: In Porto there are a lot of small cool spaces, for me they are the best ones, over the big events, festivals etc. I would say that my favorite bar is Maus Hábitos (bad habits in English): small bands can play there and it is a cool place for the arts in general.  

PP: Is it sometimes difficult for you to always be smiling and welcoming in ESN events?

N: I don’t smile all the time, I don’t care. The trick is to be normal all the time. I am joking of course!

R: I’m a quiet guy but I am also a positive person, my nature is to be nice to people so actually it is OK for me. I sometimes feel tired doing bureaucratic stuff but I love being with Erasmus people.

PP: How do you feel about the civic involvment of young people in Portugal ?

R: In 2012, one year after I founded my association, Braga was the European Youth Capital and I represented Viseu there. We were discussing exactly that: how can we get young people more involved in youth associations. Our conclusion was that it was by showing how good it can be, through examples. But I feel like it’s getting more common in Portugal to be involved in associations, in university there a lot of groups that students can join. About politics, the 2 parties system and the importance of EU rules make it difficult to be motivated.  

PP: Where to go on a date in Porto?

R: Museu d’Avó, a tapas restaurant, the deco is awesome, the staff is really nice. It is small and very cozy, perfect for a date. 

N: For me, a place with a good view, like Palácio de Cristal or Virtudes, if it’s not raining of course.

PP: Where to have a beer with a few good friends on a Sunday night?

R: Pipa Velha !

N: Definitely not in the city center.  I live near Matosinhos, there are a lot of coffees with a nice view on the beach.

PP: What Portuguese bands / singers should we listen to?

N: Miguel Araújo, António Zambujo, Rui Veloso, Jorge Palma.

N: Quim Barreiros! His lyrics are very funny, young people listen to him mainly for his lyrics.

A Cabritinha (2004)

We checked the lyrics of one of his biggest hits, “A Cabritinha”, they are indeed quite priceless!

“Quando eu nasci a minha mãe não tinha leite
Fui criado como um bezerro rejeitado
Mamei em vacas em tudo que tinha peito
E cresci assim deste jeito
Fiquei mal habituado

Hoje sou homem e arranjei uma cabritinha
E passo o dia a mamar
Nos peitinhos da Fofinha

Eu gosto de mamar
Nos peitos da Cabritinha”

« When I was born my mother didn’t have milk / I was created like a rejected  calf / I sucked at cows at everything that had a brest / I grew up in this way / I kept bad habits.

Today I am a man and I got a little goat / And spend the day sucking at / The brest of the cutie.

I like to suck at the brest of the little goat »

R: In a Julio Iglesias’ style we have Tony Carreira, he is a star! His songs are very romantic, old women love him !

PP: To conclude, we asked them to share with us their favorite Portuguese proverb. After a very long brain-storming, hee is what we got from them: 

Em Portugês: 

Porto Pulses: Podem apresentar-vos brevemente e explicar porque decidiram fazer parte da ESN?

Rafael: Sou de Viseu, uma cidade mais pequena do que o Porto, no centro do país. Estou a estudar Ciências Veterinárias. Eu tenho feito parte da ESN há um ano e parece que sou o Presidente.

Eu comecei a participar no Programa Buddy em 2011, e desde então, eu sempre tenho tido vários buddies. Então, agora, como Presidente da ESN só estou a fazer as mesmas coisas que antes: mostrar o Porto aos Erasmus.

Além disso, sou também o presidente da Associação Portuguesa da Defesa dos Seres Vivos, uma associação que eu criei quando tinha 21 anos. Eu sempre estive interessado pelo ambiente, provavelmente porque eu cresci no campo, com animais. Mas agora não tenho tempo para esta associação.

Nuno: Sou o Nuno, tenho 21 anos. Estou a estudar produção musical no Porto, a minha cidade. Sou bastante novo na ESN, juntei-me à equipa há um mês porque sempre quero fazer muitas coisas novas, senão fico entediado rapidamente. No meu caso fazer parte da ESN é uma coisa mais pessoal, é uma maneira de conhecer muitas pessoas e de descobrir novas atividades.

Eu faço parte da equipa de projetos. É uma equipa mais social,  responsável pelas atividades de voluntariado. A nossa primeira atividade foi o churrasco de solidariedade com os bombeiros. O próximo projeto é a organização da Semana Social em novembro. Esta semana acontece na Europa inteira e o seu objetivo é de criar ligações entre os Erasmus e as associações locais.   

Estamos também a trabalhar num outro projeto da ESN internacional, sobre a acessibilidade das universidades para os estudantes com mobilidade reduzida.

PP: O que é a função da ESN internacional e quando foi criada?

R: A ESN internacional foi criada em 1990, a sua sede fica em Bruxelas e a ESN de cada país é aí representada. A criação da ESN internacional era uma resposta à necessidade dum apoio mais forte para os estudantes Erasmus.

PP: O que é que vocês têm aprendido pelo conhecimento de pessoas de muitos países?

R: Principalmente, acho que tenho aprendido a ter uma nova perspetiva do mundo. Eu vi que, ao nível pessoal, é bastante fácil de me dar bem com todos.

N: Para mim, é mais ou menos a mesma coisa:  as minhas experiências preferidas são aquelas que sublinham as nossas similaridades.

PP: Qual foi o vosso evento preferido até agora?

R: O Encontro Nacional dos Erasmus no Algarve, em abril de 2016: é uma reunião de todas as secções ESN de Portugal. De facto, a secção do Porto é uma das maiores e experientes de Portugal e eu gosto muito desta partilha com as outras.

Eu também gostei de organizar a Noite Portuguesa, com comida, e vários músicos. Eu trabalhei muito mas foi gratificante.

PP: O que querem partilhar com os Erasmus sobre Portugal e o Porto?  

R: Principalmente a nossa gastronomia e eu também gosto de mostrar um pouco da nossa história pelas viagens que organizamos.

N: No Porto, há muitos espaços pequenos e fixes! Para mim, eles são os melhores. Diria que o meu bar preferido é o Maus Hábitos, um lugar muito fixe para as artes.  

PP: Ficam às vezes um pouco cansados de terem de estar sempre a sorrir nos eventos da ESN?  

N: Eu não estou sempre a sorrir. O truque é estar sempre normal. Estou a brincar, claro!

R: Sou calmo mas sou também uma pessoa positiva. Sou naturalmente simpático com os outros. Às vezes as tarefas administrativas podem cansar-me mas adoro estar com os Erasmus!

PP: O que pensam da implicação cívica dos jovens Portugueses?

R: Em 2012, um ano depois da criação da minha associação, Braga foi a Capital Europeia da Juventude. Nós conversámos sobre isso mesmo: como incentivar a juventude a implicar-se mais nas associações? A nossa conclusão foi que o melhor meio seria de mostrar-lhes, com exemplos, que trabalhar numa associação é muito bom a muitos níveis. Sobre a política, temos um sistema com dois partidos e há muitas regras da União Europeia, portanto é difícil ter muita motivação.

PP: Onde se pode ter um encontro no Porto?

R: No Museu d’Avó, um restaurante de tapas muito confortável e acolhedor. A decoração é fantástica!

N: Para mim, um lugar com uma vista bonita, tipo o Palácio de Cristal ou as Virtudes.

PPOnde se toma uma cerveja com alguns amigos ao domingo no Porto?  

R: Pipa Velha !

N: Eu vivo perto de Matosinhos, há muitos cafés com uma vista linda na praia.

PP: Que grupos de música / cantores deveríamos ouvir?

N: Miguel Araújo, António Zambujo, Rui Veloso, Jorge Palma. Quim Barreiros! As letras do Quim Barreiros são muito engraçadas!

R: Há também Tony Carreira, num tipo de Julio Iglésias. Ele é uma estrela aqui! As suas canções são muito românticas.


NEY MATOGROSSO SHOW: Aware of the signs!


Hey! One of the biggest names in Brazilian music, Ney Matogrosso, is back to show live with his new album, “Watch out for signs” in October, Porto and Lisbon. And I went to his concert with Anouck on Sunday October 2nd 2016, 9:30 pm at Coliseu Porto, 

Ney de Souza Pereira (born August 1, 1941, in Bela Vista, Mato Grosso do Sul), widely known as Ney Matogrosso, is a flamboyant Brazilian singer. (more info)


I didn’t know him before the concert but when we entered the impressive Coliseu I realized how excited people looked like. The second thing I noticed was that most of the audience was over 70 years old. Yes, a big hall full of old people watching him with true love in their eyes. I understood it better when I learned, after the show that he was already 75. Incredible when you see the performance he delivered on Sunday.


He is a truly unique showman, the performance is not only about his music but also about his  excentric costumes (black and silver extremely tight pants, incredible wigs, high heels),  and his legendary very sensual / sexual dance moves. He even did something close to a strip tease in the middle of the show and the audience seemed to appreciate it a lot, even the stuck-up lady sitting next to us.

Besides, Ney has an outstanding stage presence, captivating vocals mixed with the most incredible Samba dancing skills. When he looks at the audience you feel as if he is looking at you.


As foreigners, French and Turkish, it was nice to see the performance of a Brazileiro in Porto. 

The standing ovation at the end was actually touching. It was amazing.


Coliseu do Porto: 

R. de Passos Manuel 137, 4000-385 Porto

Tel: 22 339 4940

Website: http://www.coliseu.pt/


Casa da Horta – a local association open to the world

IMG_5997.JPGWe first heard about Casa da Horta by Jagoda, a European Volunteer from Poland, that we met during our EVS training week in Braga.

When she explained to us that she was volunteering in a horizontally managed associative vegan restaurant, which is also an open space for artistic and cultural expressions, as well as for collective thinking about our ways of living and consuming, we thought we should go and check it out in Porto.
That’s how we ended up last Tuesday, in the terrace of Casa da Horta, eating for the first time or our lives, a piece of seitan, a typical vegan food made of wheat protein. It turned to be actually very good and tasty, and the bread stuffed with olives that is served with the soup is also itself a good reason to come here. 

Promoting alternative ways of living through local action

To understand better what is Casa da Horta about, we asked a few questions to Jadoga and one of her colleagues, Nicola, an Italian European Volunteer. Listen to them talking about Casa da Horta’s activities (vegan restaurant, shop, events, exchange languages sessions etc) and their very interesting initiative to create a “do-it yourself Zine” aiming at developing more collaborations between environmental associations of Porto and its surroundings. The first publication will be about the environmental impacts of the tremendous growth of tourism in Porto, and we will sure talk more about it as the project will move forward.

What is a Zine? – A zine is a non-commercial, non-professional publication. The main difference between a magazine and a zine is that zines are not out there to make a profit but, rather, to add other, often unheard voices into the mix.“


… willing to be open to others’ inspiration and ideas

Casa da Horta’s philosophy is to be open ideas and initiatives of anyone sharing its values and objectives. Thus they organize every week an open meeting where everyone can come and propose activities. They also can open their kitchen to you on Saturdays (Jantar Especial), the idea being that you will cook with them whatever you would like (but preferably not a big piece of steak). 

They also seek stimulation and inspiration by people from all over the world and this is why they have been welcoming European Volunteers for a few years now. Jagoda and Nicola told us about what drove them there:

To conclude this first post, here is a beautiful and very nostalgic song, written by Chico Buarque (Brazil) and sung by Carminho, a famous fado Portuguese singer. We discovered it thanks to yesterday’s “Falamos portugues” session in Casa da Horta, organized every Thursday at 7:30 pm! 

Aprendendo uma outra lingua por artes e jogos é muito bom !



Casa da Horta, Associação Cultural
Rua de São Francisco, 12A
4050-548 Porto, Portugal

Email: casadahorta@pegada.net
Tel: 22 2024123 / 93 3831020 / 93 8433724

Website: http://casadahorta.pegada.net/

Upcoming events: https://www.facebook.com/casadahorta.associacaocultural/events?ref=page_internal

Merve & Anouck