Theo em Portugal (testemunho CES)

O Theo está a fazer Voluntariado Internacional em Portugal ao abrigo do programa Corpo Europeu de Solidariedade, no âmbito do projeto Citizenship Lab Volunteering, coordenado pela Rota Jovem 🌍


Lê o testemunho da sua experiência 👇


"I have the assignment to write an essay about my experiences and observations during my 9-month stay in Lisbon and Portugal so far. Since the assignment is comparatively open-ended, I decided to write about the comparison of the expectation I had, and the experiences I actually did.


To give the reader a better understanding, I would like to start with the life situation I was in, before I started the 12-month volunteer project in Lisbon.

I started the long-term project on 7/19/2021. Two months before that, I graduated from high school at a school in Leverkusen, right next to Cologne.

At school I would describe myself as a student who always has fun and tries as little as possible to pass the exams somehow.

Already at the age of 13 and 14 I always had the dream to go traveling after school. But when the coronavirus came to Europe in the beginning of the year 2020, however, these dreams did not seem to be very feasible. Therefore, at the beginning of 2021, I decided to do a voluntary year abroad in Europe. This idea was motivated by the experiences I had in 2019 in my first international workcamp during the summer vacations.

So between February and June 2021, I looked for ESC projects in various European countries.

I decided to go to Portugal because I had already been to Spain a few times and therefore I thought Portugal, with similar climatic conditions, would be a cool country to explore. However, I didn't have any real ideas about the country and the culture before arriving in Portugal, which made exploring the country even more interesting and exciting.


The two months after finishing school and before starting my long-term project, I spent with vacations with different friends from school. This time I have kept in mind as one of the most beautiful months, because I could finally live out the freedom I had always dreamed of in many boring math, history, and religion classes.

After enjoying various vacations in Germany and Holland, I found myself on the morning of the first day of the project at a campsite in a small French village on the Atlantic coast. Here I had spent the last two weeks with my closest friends from school, on a surfing vacation.

The nervousness about setting off all alone in a new country where I had never been before and where I knew no one had already risen constantly over the last 2 days.

This nervousness was unfounded from today's point of view, although I could already observe a certain attraction to the unknown at that time.

And then it finally started, after I packed my final things my friends brought me to the airport in Bordeaux, from where I took a flight to Lisbon. So with only my suitcase and backpack, I set off for Portugal and my first big trip all by myself.

But before we start with the stay in Portugal, I would like to come back to my expectations. As I said, my decision was inspired by an international work camp. Therefore, I already had experience with international acquaintances who had inspired me in the past. As I also never lived alone before, I hardly knew what I was getting myself into. My attitude was "I have no expectations, so I also can not be disappointed".


This attitude has also proven itself. Already three weeks after my arrival, I had made the first international acquaintances. At a meeting for international volunteers I met people from France, Italy, Spain, Algeria, Iceland and many other nationalities. From then on, back in Lisbon, I met many times with people I had met in the camp, but also made new friends in Lisbon itself. This part of the social life was one of the best experiences. Especially since I mostly met people who were 5-10 years older than me, I was very interested in their experiences they had gathered over the years. I also had the feeling that the acquaintances I made were more intense than the acquaintances I made in Germany, although they were more superficial. I can't explain why I picked it up like this, but I think it's because you couldn't talk in your native language and you felt connected to countries I had never been exposed to before.

Over time I got to know more and more people, which was a nice feeling. On the other hand, I had to realize that, unlike in school, you have to say goodbye to people much faster, as people move to other cities or even countries, or you just loose contact over time.


When the Corona numbers increased around Christmas and the social interactions decreased, there were also dry spells again and again, which I could put away very well, because I still had all the good memories from the summer. In addition, there were always occasions to celebrate and meet new people or have new experiences.


I was also fascinated by living in another country. Just the fact that I had palm trees in my front yard, and a lemon tree in my backyard, gave me an eternal vacation feeling. Not to mention the city of Lisbon itself, but also the many other cities and villages I visited over time.

Overall, I can say that it would have made no sense at all to make concrete expectations, since these will not occur anyway. But even if I had made more expectations, I would not have imagined it at all as it actually happened."