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Testimonio Alicia Vidal | 23 años

My name is Alicia Vidal Sanjuan, I have 23 and I am from Spain. I would like to explain what this experience has meant for me and how I discovered it. You (my reader) are going to like so much that you will search for information (I promise it).

Every good adventure starts in an airport and mine is not different. I was coming home after a trip in the north of Spain and in the queue for getting into the plane I met a Spanish guy. He said that he had been two weeks in Turkey with all expenses paid and the flights. At the begining I did not believe him because it sounded too good to be real. That is why I decided to make a phone note and later search for it.

At the end of my Erasmus (that I also enjoyed as hell) I did not want to come back home. I wanted to keep travelling, meeting people; open my social red and so on. Therefore, I remembered that phone note and I started getting to know more and more things.  It was true, all the expenses were paid, and you had the possibility to travel and to actually do something you will always feel proud of. Then I thought why not Ali? Why not trying to live abroad again? 

I am not going to lie, I decided first to do a short-term volunteer because I wanted to take it easy first and then decide what I really wanted to do. Therefore, I went to Croatia, to a small city near the capital. I enjoyed it that much that I kept searching for more and more. I finally find out a volunteer programme for nine months in Portugal and I applied. I never thought that decision was going to be one of my best decisions ever. 

I am writing right now in a cafeteria in Lisbon (one of my favourite ones) trying to explain all what I felt during these nine months and the things I have done that it is almost impossible. I am not lying when I say that this made me a better person and change me in a way I cannot explain with words. I will try my best because if you are reading me, I would like you to feel the same. To have the opportunity to experience it by yourself, and who knows maybe one day make the world a better place (to idealistic maybe). 

I am not going to say that everything has been amazing during this nine month. I also had difficulties, but that is life in itself. At the begging it was difficult to share room with a person I did not know. She is from Greece and the only way to communicate is in English. This terrifies me because even if I consider that I can have a conversation and I am fluent in English I did not know how things were going to be. I was very lucky to have her in my life, first because she is easy-going and we never had a problem. We communicate pretty well. We used to go out a lot, then COVID 19 came and everything changed. 

Furthermore, my project was with people with mental illness, something tough. I studied law so you do not need to worry about your studies at all. You can have studies or not, it does not matter. You just need to want new experiences and be ready for them. European Volunteering Services gives you the possibility of living abroad and have a similar experience as an Erasmus without having to study (I know what an Erasmus is because I have done one before coming here). I will recommend doing as much experiences as you can because you will change in a way I cannot explain in words. You will make mistakes, then reflect and grow up. 

I came here almost nine month ago with any kind of expectations (I did not even know where I was going to sleep the day before coming here). I knew that I wanted to enjoy every second of it and I started making my place here in Lisbon. I attended theater lessons; I hang out with local people. One thing I regret it is maybe not learning better the language and being more cautious with money. I am leaving without savings that is the only bad part of it. It is not always easy; I also missed my friends, my family and my bed. However, you will have other things, I promise. 

I will add that I have always been home for my birthday, when I was studying in Barcelona I went home; last year when I was doing my Erasmus in Italy I flew to Spain to be near my close ones. This year I stayed in Portugal. Here I had a group of friends from work, theater and other volunteers I wanted to share the experience with. We made a party for my 23 anniversary. I will never forget it. 

Now that I am almost leaving Portugal, I am realising how many things I have done; how many friends I have and how much I will miss all of it. I had a lot of plans and ideas, but unfortunately COVID19 came along and I had to postpone them. During three months, we were almost locked down. It was a difficult time, it is not easy to share house with seven different people. Each of us has it is own way of doing things, way of thinking and routines. We as a group had difficulties, but again, that is life. 

I learned a lot during this but I will make a metaphor: Life is like a table. If you hold your table with only one leg, if it breaks, you are fucked up because you rely all your weight in only one support. If you have more than one, in case it breaks you have more. For instance, here I have my work place, my flat mates, my theater, my local friends and other volunteers. In case something happens, (relationships are not always easy because we are humans) I can have support for many places. 

We are tough that there is only one way of doing things and I will suggest you to challenge yourself and see what happens. Maybe, it is not what you wanted in the first place but you will get other things. Life has amazing things for you when you are ready to unfasten your seatbelt and jump out of your comfort zone. I will always remember this experience. Thank you. 

I will finish this report being grateful to Asociación Mundus (Un mundo a tus pies) that is my Sending Organization in Spain and to Proatlantico, who has been giving support, sharing love and helping me since the begginig. Thank you one more time. Without you, this would never be the same. Alicia 

Alicia Vidal