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  • Writer's pictureHavana Chin

My Volunteer Experience in Portugal: Part Two

Hey everyone, I'm back. I know it's been a long time since my last post, but I finally found time to finish my Portugal story!


Ok, so I left off talking about the orientation the day before we started working at our placement.


First Week of Placement:

So the day after orientation, Monday, was the day that we started working at our placement. The person who picked me and some of the other volunteers up from the airport was the one who showed all the volunteers at our volunteer house how to get to their placement from the residence. Since my placement started very late in the day compared to the other volunteers in my house, I had half the day to laze around, read a book, sleep in, or watch tv. Once it was twelve, though, another volunteer from the house and I were shown how to get to our placement which was just a short fifteen-minute walk to a local school. Once we got there, we met another volunteer from another volunteer house in Portugal, and the school's owner, who showed us around and told us what we would be doing. After we were shown around, we waited for the kids to arrive. Finally, once the kids came, we went outside on a vast field and tried to introduce ourselves in Portuguese. Although I'm sure it sounded gibberish, we still communicated and interacted with the kids through facial expressions, hand gestures, and sounds. After we got past the language barrier, we started to play games with the children, like basketball, soccer (football), tag, cards, jump rope, and board games. Then the kids took a snack break, and we went back inside to help some kids struggling with their English homework finish their assignments. We stayed at our placement, playing, reading, and helping the kids until five, when all the kids left. On our walk back to the volunteer house, the two other volunteers and I stopped at a little bakery.


This is what I bought from the bakery the first time. The big pastry is called Pastel de Nata. It is supposedly the signature pastry of Portugal ( it was almost like a custard/egg tart), and the small pie was like soft chocolate, practically a mousse ball covered in chocolate sprinkles (it tasted sooooo good).


The second time I switched out the Pastel de Nata for a different pastry, I still got the chocolate pastry since it tasted terrific. The strawberry pastry was very creamy and crunchy, and it tasted spectacular, so every single time I walked back to the house, I would always get these two pastries and sometimes something else, but these two became staples!


Weekend:

So after five days of working at our placement, it was finally the weekend!! Since my mom was in Portugal and my dad also flew over a couple of days later, we decided to tour Portugal together over the weekend since my placement was only during the week. So after my station ended on Friday, my parents came to pick me up, and we left to spend the weekend together. Instead of explaining everything we did, I will show pictures of everything we saw and did over the weekend.




We stopped to get breakfast on Saturday, and this is what I ate (it tasted just as good as it looked).






Second/Last Week of Placement:

So after a very eventful weekend, my parents dropped me back at the volunteer house late Sunday evening. When I got back, I went straight to sleep since almost all the volunteers were out clubbing or partying since Monday was a holiday, and they did not have to get up early to go to their placements. On Monday, I went to the beach all day with some other volunteers, and then in the evening, we went to a restaurant by the beach for dinner. Then for the next four days, I went to my placement every day, and some new volunteers joined us while others left since their volunteering was over.

Ice cream I got at the beach ( I got this every day after I tried it because it was so refreshing and creamy)


On Friday, after my last day at my placement, some other volunteers and I decided to go on a sunset boat ride.


This was one of the monuments I saw on the boat ride (excellent)



(This was my home screen background for months)


After we returned from the boat ride, someone came to pick me up from the volunteer house and dropped me off at the hotel where my parents were staying. Then on Saturday morning, my parents and I flew back to Atlanta, which concluded my two-week Portugal volunteering trip!


Takeaways:

So although I have been on many volunteer trips before, this one was very different from any other trip I had ever been on. This trip forced me to converse with people much older than me and find something in common with them, something I thought was impossible, but it turned out I had a lot more in common with a twenty-one-year-old woman than I thought. Not only did this trip push me past my comfort zone socially but also culturally. I am not used to being surrounded by so many different cultures all at once. Of course, I was surrounded by the Portuguese culture, but the culture of all the volunteers was also very present since I was around them 24/7. I learned a lot about Korean culture as one of my friends at the house was from Korea. I also learned a lot about the culture of the Netherlands, as a lot of my friends were from the Netherlands. All in all, I feel like this experience pushed me outside my comfort zone in the best way possible, and I learned a lot about other people and cultures while volunteering.


**I am so sorry for the major delay for part two of the Portugal Story. This school year has been crazy, to say the absolute least. However, I hope you enjoyed reading this post because I enjoyed writing it!

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