When I began this project I had some expectations, but you can never know how it will go. How the relationship with teammates will develop, how you will find your place in this city and fill up your free time, manage your monthly budget or adapt to the climate, which is for sure different from my country. It all can influence your mood, energy, and approach to the situations. It is already January, that marks the middle part of this project which will last only until the beginning of April for us ( To be precise, 4th of April- my Birthday). Now when we had to create „EVS call” video for newbies that will change us and start their own adventure here-gives an impulse to sit down and have a look back, evaluate- how it has felt, what has been done, experienced. Without regrets I can say for sure, I’m grateful for this experience, and most of all for this location. Portugal is relatively small country but has so rich culture, landscape and things to offer for a discoverer like me. Porto-city that took my breath away already at the first sight. Whatever is the weather-hot, cheerful, summerish October (as it was at our arrival) or wet, humid, cold December- I could always find some charm in this city and things to do in it.
During this EVS we were very well welcomed, not only with welcoming dinner at our huge apartment, that has terrace with incredible view towards ocean (which took some beauty treatment for itself with construction workers as part of our family/team for a while), but also we had good training/workshops about nonformal education tools. We had a couple of days that we devoted just for this, that helped to know each other better as a team and also get prepared for work at schools, with kids/youngsters. We received an excellent toolset, that later we could apply in our personal project. These all activities which we learned were asked to transform in the written paper- called „PORTFOLIO”. Even if sometimes I were annoyed to pay attention to this portfolio, to sum up, all activities with detailed instruction how to navigate youngsters, what materials needed, what skills they will receive as an outcome of this and which age it might suit better- now I appreciate that I have this document where is summarized all nonformal education activities that I not only learned here – but also managed to test myself, apply in schools with kids.
After warming up by learning various approaches to nonformal education, we visited also many GAIA schools that gave us general overlook how the educational system works in Portugal, what is our optional working place. We were encouraged to create our personal project during this EVS-that is a good encouragement to see it as a platform for your creativity and initiative toward these 6 months. Meanwhile, we also started to participate in school life- by attending drawing classes, learning new skills in art, participating in theater class in Santa Marinha school with fantastic teacher Marta, that newer loses enthusiasm and is super sweet with her students. That way we could observe and interact with kids easier-even without big language knowledge. We managed very well and became „superstars” in school- as all kids were so happy to meet us in the corridor or just say HI in English. We participated to create a Christmass play with kids, that was so much fun and amazing – because they don’t know so much English, and same for me, just with Portuguese language-but the outcome was incredible how we managed to communicate through the process that they created a real play about Christmass in Latvia. I was extremely proud of them. My workplace was in Santa Marinha school, mostly with kids in primary school age. So I proposed my project, that included various nonformal/educational activities for kids at Libary. Two times a week I and my colleague from Rumania spent there 3 hours, available for any help for Rita (an awesome lady who is working there). We came with our own suggestions and applied them in work. It was fun and kids enjoyed not only our company (They were excited that we are foreigners) but also the creative/unusual approach that we brought with nonformal education activities in theyr school. Even if in the beginning it was hard to understand the meaning of time spent in Library after a while we understood how important is that kids can hear english speakers, interact with youngsters like us and also for library-with our input of ideas. And most of all- for us –to learn how library works in Portugal and how creative approach can be done in this area –by oberving professionality, crativity and patience form Ritas side.
Besides work we had of course also free time, which was spent perfectly. It’s up to each other how we fill up the time, spend money or take opportunities that we have. I had a goal to travel and explore this culture. So I did it. My First trip the to city called Peniche was at the end of October. It was AMAZING. Beaches, surfers, ocean, increadible beauty of nature, delicious food e.c. but most of all- first time in my life I was swimming the in ocean at end of OCTOBER. In Latvia it’s already freezing at that time and you don’t take outdoors jackets of- sunbathing only in your dreams under warm blankets in your bed. In these three month I managed to accomplish my dream from childhood and I visited Barcelona-which was totally worth waiting for so long. I made also some short trips to surrounding cities. Such as Aveiro, Guimaraes and booked a trip to Lisbon and Azores that will accomplish only in following months. Besides traveling- we definitely enjoyed a lot of cultural events that provides this charming city. It’s a bliss that I can call this city home for 6 months because of its unique vibe. We had a tradition to attend one museum, every first Sunday of month-to explore art (because it is free museum days in Porto-very much thank you). Attended various concerts in cafes, conferences e.c. This city provides a lot of moments or .. „woooow.. so coool”.. if you have a discoverers 6th sence-which for sure I have. Thank you, Porto, for being so AMAZING.
These 3 months have been passed with ups and downs- as it was hard for me to adapt the fact, that during the winter there is so high level of humidity and 75% of houses have no heating system, but I managed to balance my attitude towards it and here it is- it’s January + 12 degrees, flowers blossoming around, green grass, sun shining, birds singing and life is beautyfull. Spring is here, already behind the corner-that always is a reason to smile more, and boost an energy for new adventures, new discoveries, and lessons to learn professionally as well. EVS is an experience that I’ll never forget and for sure. looking forward to the rest of the time spent here. Hoping to viden my circle of friends, improve my portuguese languege, learn how to cook octopus, surfing and do the „Little Prin ce”workshop the at the library with kids. Sorz for the leghts, but had some things to share with you!