Why EVS? Why Portugal? Because why not, right?

Hi, My name is Kaisa and I did my European Voluntary Service in PORTUGAL. It sure was an amazing 12-months, which I will never forget.

October 2016 was when I arrived in Portugal to start my one-year volunteering with a foster home with kids who had been taken from their families due to specific conditions. I had no experience with kids like this, I had no knowledge of Portugal’s culture nor its language. I had no expectations for this year, all I wanted was to enjoy myself and learn a thing or two about Portugal and foster kids.

Work life

Working with kids is never easy. Kids have different behavioural ways and personalities, especially kids whose past isn’t as easy as theirs. Since I didn’t speak the language, I couldn’t communicate with them as much as I wanted. The first two weeks I remember just sitting on the sofa and watching the tv. Those two weeks I was in a house with only teenage boys, later my house moved together with another house. That meant more kids, but also another volunteer. Lucky me, she spoke a little Portuguese.

My assignments in the house were mainly to help the educators. That means I helped the kids with their homework, I took the kids to their practices or doctor’s appointments, I went to the supermarket with the kids when they want to spend their allowance on chips and candy. I was like a bigger sister watching over them and making sure they are okay. Since majority of the kids were in ages 13-14 then mostly they spent their free time hooked on technology. However, I was always there for them whenever they needed attention or simply hugs.

Social life

Portuguese people are known to be welcoming and warm towards strangers. I think there must be something in that ocean water and constant sunlight. I lived in Lisbon, which is the capital of Portugal. A beautiful city with even more beautiful and interesting people. One thing, which I really enjoyed about Lisbon, was that you never quite knew what was hidden just around the corner. It was like magic.

My coordinating organization signed me into an apartment quite close to the city centre. It was six of us in a tiny apartment, two sharing one room. In the beginning I wasn’t quite sure how this would work and to tell you the truth I was a little worried. In the end everything worked out amazingly and my flatmates were a big support for me throughout my project.

Besides volunteering at the foster home, I decided to get into the local activities – festivals. I have been part of festivals in Tallinn and so I wanted to try that opportunity in Lisbon as well. I got to be part of two amazing film festivals – MONSTA and IndieLisboa – where the crew was so welcoming and helped me with anything I needed, for example translation. I think I was the only one who spoke only English, but that didn’t stop me from helping the crew or enjoying the time spent at the festivals.

The country

WOW! That would my first thought of Portugal. The country is stunning and there are beautiful places in the nature to go and check out. Of course, surfing is a BIG thing there, so when you do go – check out the waves! Every time I managed to take a trip outside of Lisbon, I was in complete “aww” about the sights. They take your breath away, figuratively speaking and physically due to the winds if you go to the coast.

I enjoyed my time in Portugal so much that I wish to go back. It’s an amazing country with some great vibes. The place makes you feel good. When you’re feeling down for some reason, all you must do in Lisbon is to step outside and go for a walk. You never know what can happen! 

This Project was financed by European Commission’s Erasmus + Programme