Monday, April 20, 2015

My Lisbon Experience so far!

My Lisbon Experience so far!

I've been in Lisbon for almost 3 months, which is a surprising amount of time considering that my placement is almost a third complete! So far Portugal and Lisbon have welcomed me with open arms. My arrival was in January, a few weeks before my project actually started. I wanted to accustom myself with the local way of life before any of the work actually started. I took the time to explore the city, meet people, try new foods, listen to the language and immerse myself into this experience. I have been really taken aback by the beauty of this city. There are stark contrasts between Lisbon and my small town in the UK. Coming from North Wales, I am used to countryside, farms, local pubs and virtually non existent public transport. Suddenly Lisbon has taken over my conscience with its bustling streets and warm balmy weather. I have been inundated with different smells and tastes that I do not encounter when I'm at home, especially when it comes to food and drink.  Its hard not to fall in love with a way of life that is focussed on the act of eating together and socialising.

My project has been very involving, with many different learning curves in the process. The main language of the office is Portuguese, so I have been plunged into the deep end in terms of communication. Although everybody speaks English very well at the office, there is strong emphasis on picking up the lingo in order to communicate and embrace the culture. This has been aided by the twice weekly intensive course which is designed to get you talking in a short space of time. So far I'm growing in confidence, using phrases and actually starting to understand. I'm finding it quite amazing how the mind can just pick up a language when it is forced to. After my 9 month placement, my goal is to be relatively conversational in Portuguese, which means I may have to ditch my English for the time being! 

I have already been very involved within the running of the association, which I'm really enjoying. I have had the chance to participate in the running of a week long seminar for other European organisations and integrate with local youths for English conversation lessons. I know that once the summer arrives properly here in Lisbon, the schedule will only get busier. I am really excited to continue my learning process and develop my own ideas throughout the placement.

I think that EVS has given me a fantastic opportunity. I feel so lucky to be able to carry out my placement in such good surroundings and with great people. I think that European and international awareness is so important to understand and through my EVS, I am not only able to learn more about Portugal, but also about other internationals I meet along the way.

 Tom Green


Monday, April 13, 2015

Mongolian Volunteer Project

For my first volunteering project overseas I decided to go with Concordia as they seemed like a good organisation. I was not disappointed in choosing them; from the very beginning, before I even started the project they were on hand to answer any of my questions, which were many. They fully supported me before, during and even after I finished the volunteer project. For the volunteer project itself, I went to Mongolia to help out at the farm at a local orphanage and I have to say it was one of the highlights of my 10 month travel. I made many friends which I still keep in contact with and I felt like I actually did make a difference to the project. The highlight was planning and carrying out an activities day with the kids. I will definitely volunteer again in the future and when I do I will not hesitate to contact Concordia again.

How could this program be improved?
In Mongolia sometimes the weather would be bad which would prevent us from working on the farm, it would be great if contingency plans were created so that volunteers could be productive whatever the weather.

International volunteer 2015