Life

From Volunteer to Expat in a Year

Sometimes I forget about how big a step I did just a year ago. But now, as my voluntary service is ending and I will finally become a real expat, it definitely is on my mind.

While realising that I’ve never been that 100% happy in my home country, Germany, and after falling in love with Portugal head over heels in June, I took some really rapid decisions and started a voluntary service in November 2014 – already with the perspectives of maybe NOT coming back. So I gave up my flat, gave away 90% of my belongings, gave 5% to friends and family and took another 5% with me.

Back then this gave me the most delibering feeling I’ve ever had and I don’t look back on a single day I regretted it.

My life changed immensely with this. I discovered a new passion (caring for youngsters), I found love, I found some small jobs, and eventually I found an employment, starting directly after my volunteering ends, in less than 2 weeks. It will be my first real job, in an area I never worked in. And, above all, it means moving in with my boyfriend and also moving TO Lisbon and finally becoming the expat that I’ve been in my heart for months.

A year of mastering the language, adapting to the Portuguese culture (which is definitely quite different from the German one…), fitting in, trying to find a way, being happy.

I’m afraid of the future, I really really am. But I believe that I will make it as good as I want it to be. Although going tons of different pathways, right now it seems as if they all led to this, and now it’s the breaking point to see, if it was the right choice.

I’m excited to, in 10 days, officially register myself in Portugal and cut all (official) cords to Germany. While all those refugee try everything to set a foot into Germany (and above of all Berlin), I leave voluntarily. Do I look back sadly? No. After all, Germany is not that far away 🙂 And the parts of German culture I treasure, I will always carry in my heart.

 

*self-motivational speech out*

(see facebook link at about / life for more photos!)

If I Lose Myself*

… I’ll use facebook like some of the kids from my project do.

When I started using facebook, I was 17 years old, in 2008. It was the time facebook started becoming popular in Germany, and I started using it pretty early. The main reason back then was to stay in touch with a friend of mine, who went back to Egypt. It was already very popular there, so I started communicating with her over this. By the time I started going to university (end of 2009), it had become common and I used it with my study colleagues, and have never left since. Anyway, you don’t need to know facebook’s story. My point today is:

I’m fucking glad facebook didn’t exist when I was a real teenager. Or, god bless, even younger. Some of the kids from my project started adding me on facebook lately, so by now I have like 30 kids between 9 and 15 years old on my facebook. Also, here in Portugal it’s pretty common for adults to use it as well. I totally can’t imagine my parents on facebook, but here this is more than normal.
Really guys, I don’t even WANT to know what I would have posted on facebook with 13 years old, and it would have been on the Internet forever.

Let me give you some examples:

1) They usually are incredibly polite
Let’s start with a nice one. I don’t know about you, but I never commented one of my own photos just to thank everyone for the likes and comments. Let alone thanking every single person so that I end up commenting my own picture 10x.

2) They share everything they like
One of my kids shares absolutely everything he likes. Where normal people give a like, he likes and shares. Every shit. Thank god you can unfollow people without unfriending them.

3) … and they tag every person they know on that until the facebook limit is reached
Not kidding. Tagging 86 people on a picture? Nothing special. Also: tagging other people on your photos although they have nothing to do with it. Ooookay…

4) They share pictures of random people and express their feelings
One of my kids posted a picture from a girl today, with the comment: “beautiful as always! I know your boyfriend, but you will always stay beautiful!”. I mean. Wtf? Imagine an adult doing that. Imagine, for a second.

5) They add people on facebook that they feel they should know or want to get to know
Or at least that’s the feeling I got. Kids have added me on facebook, that I definitely don’t know. Yeah, they’ve probably seen me dashing around somewhere, Lousa is small. But, come on. What for? The guy that did #4 has a glorious number of nearly 2000 facebook friends. at 14. I’m very positive he adds every girl his age whose profile he stumbles over randomly. I see a lot of girls there I have only one single friend with – which NEVER happens here within Lousa. As I said, this is a small town, there are connections ALL over, they’re practically visible like threads woven through the town.

6) They message you. And have absolutely nothing to say
It has happened to me multiple times, that kids have messages me, just saying olá. There is a short exchange of tudo bem? (how are you), and then they stop texting. If you ask a question, they answer. But that’s it.

I actually think, there are a ton more I can’t think of right now. Not surprising: they younger they are, the worse. I really, REALLY wonder how they will look back on their facebook account in 5 years. If facebook still exists then.

*OneRepublic

Stay With Me – Or, never mind. Go. Please.

Just a short post, because I want to share a funny story with you guys – Yeah, I had my share of experiences concerning online dating. Always started out of boredom, nothing ever really happened, although I did actually meet some. I simply dont really believe in it, it’s still a big portion of luck – and I’d actually not even want to meet my significant other online.

But sometimes, what you enconter is absolutely hilarious and so worth passing your free time. I’ll probably write more about this at some point, but for tonight just 2 of the worst pickup lines I experienced:

1) A guy whom I started talking over facebook, actually only about a flat in Berlin. 10min after calling me a Nazi girl (long story), he asked me if I want to go out for a drink because I was actually pretty. Guess my answer.

2) This message I just got from a guy I got in touch with a while ago over Tinder (n stopped talking months ago, for some reason he texted me again today). After telling me that I look beautiful etc (ugh. I just kept texting back out of boredom. He already lost his case in the way he said it.), he honestly writes the following “I hate it when girls are ugly.” I answered “I hate it, when guys are unlikeable and superficial. He didn’t get it. Apart from being a douchebag, his intelligence obviously got a big leak somewhere as well.

What’s the worst you heard girls?!

Trouble Sleeping*

So, after nearly 3 weeks away, I’m back home in Lousa. And right now definitely very happy about it. Apart from the obvious problem I’m far away from my friends again, there is another big one: we don’t have wifi until the end of the month because the office moved. We can use the wifi from the bar we live above off, but 1) the connection is bad, and, above all, 2) they shut it down when the bar closes. And of course, weekdays the bar closes at 2. Which right now (2.30am, typing this in word …), is a huge problem for me.

My sleeping rhythm is very night-orientated, I’m a typical insomniac. I also love the sun, which usually results in little sleep. But that’s ok – according to my parents, even as a baby I never wanted to sleep (I must have been awful), so apparently that’s just my nature.

Even before leaving, I was used to going to sleep around 3am usually, getting up at 9 or 10, which suited me very well. I had to get up early for a long time in Germany – I can get totally used to getting up early, but it simply means I have to go to bed early to get enough sleep, and that just doesn’t suit my rhythm at all. Usually I ended up getting way too little sleep overall. So, the past 3 weeks I had been left without any working hours, meeting friends in the evenings / nights (having no trains back to Parede, a small part of Cascais about half an hour from Lisbon itself, between 1.30 and 5.30), living at a friend’s place with a very night-orientated rhythm as well (usually going to sleep at 4 at the earliest, but other than me still sleeping 8-9h), and other friends with even “worse” schedules than me (more about that in the story below). With all of this combined, I got into the schedule that suited myself the best. Which means I usually went to sleep between 5 and 7am, sometimes later, waking up around 12. It just suited me, it was convenient (my friend always slept when I was sleeping, I only remember two exceptions :D), I was fully awake when out with friends, never tired when I had to wait for my train etc. The 4 nights in London did not disturb this. I only managed to arrive at my friend’s place 4.30am (London will probably be the next post) and my friend also never goes to sleep before 2. I actually tried to get back into a more “normal” rhythm again… Well, I managed two nights to go to bed around 3.30, but the other ones I failed miserably.

And I had a good feeling my last night in Lisbon would make all those attempts in vain anyway. I was proven right… I arrived from London back to Lisbon in the afternoon and had already planned to spend another night in Lisbon and only return to Lousa at midday on Wednesday, because I’m working at home on Wednesdays and had to get some stuff I left in Parede anyway. In the evening I had scheduled to go to the rehearsal of a friend’s band again – I had been the week before, taking pictures (don’t have them yet, or I would show some) and loved it, so asked if I could return again. By the way, check them out (Bandcamp), They are amazing! A whole handful of very creative and talented guys.

Anyway. So I went to the rehearsal in Belém at 8.30 (yes, of course I stopped by and got some Pasteis, for the whole band, me, and some for my flatmate to bring home on Wednesday :D). Long story short, I took a train home at 8am. After a night with too little sleep before leaving and having arrived by plane just a few hours before, needless to say I was completely exhausted. I hardly could keep my eyes open, ended up taking a train that didn’t go all the way but went back halfway (and of course only realised 2 stations back in direction of Lisbon again …). I think I only managed to not miss my station completely because of some friends that kept texting with me (they were obviously getting up :D), so I repeatedly fell asleep between stations and woke up again through my mobile. Close call, because battery was nearly dying. I finally was in bed at 9.30 and – surprise, surprise, suddenly awake again of course! Eventually fell asleep around 10.

So. Getting to the point here (I’m obviously bored n wasn’t able to write anything in a long time). Now I have a wonderful night rhythm, that I absolutely love. AND NO INTERNET FROM 2AM! I’M DYING! Especially because I have to finish my work…. And that’s impossible without internet -.- until the end of the month?! How is this supposed to work?? I have my mobile connection with my phone, but my data volume does not even closely suffice to connect my laptop to that.

I would love to hear from all those insomniacs out there – how do you guys deal with normal working hours? Do you sleep when your friends are awake or do you adapt to them? And in general, for everyone – do you think you’re following your natural sleeping rhythm?!

Fun fact: There are a lot of insomniacs in Portugal (or I just happen to know so many!?), but only very few in Germany. I know at least 5 people closely here who usually don’t go to sleep before 2, rather (a lot) later – and a lot of Portuguese friends on Facebook seem to be online in the night as well. Germany? I can only think of one single friend … Just checked my mobile out of fun, yup, 2 Portuguese friends online 😉

Oh well. I will try to sleep now, have my last Portuguese class in 6h. I’m still completely exhausted, but simply not tired – well, I more or less slept until 4pm before finally starting to go home, arrived here at midnight. That’s less than 12h ago…

*The Perishers. Lyrics totally unrelated 😉

London Calling

No, this is not the next one on my list, but just a short update from me.

In 24h i’ll already have left Lisbon n be with one of my best friends in London. =) Right now I’m totally missing the time to write, a proper post, but I have LOTS of things to share – my mind is full. Well, back in Lousa I’ll probably have way more time than I’d like to have. But i’m actually only coming back for 5 days, then again on to Braga – maybe actually seeing the city during the training this time! And after that, while I’m in the north, I’ll most likely not miss out on a long weekend in Porto. Still trying to sort that all out. Well first, I’m off to London with very mixed feelings. As happy as I am to go back there after 5 years and see my great friend again, this also means the end of my Lisbon stay and the 2 weeks of working, accompanied by so much music. And I definitely can’t pretend to be happy about that …

Well, I’m already getting into future posts. I’ll keep you guys updated, expect to hear from me soon! (With tons of pictures hopefully.) Did I mention I was at a rehearsal of a friend’s band, got my hands on a good camera n made some really nice photos? =) Waiting for my friend to send me the photos, it was his camera!

Almost Lover

Yes, fellow bloggers / readers, amongst all other things, I also am in the dating scene. After having been single for 1,5 years, I feel I’m ready for a relationship again. Another thing to blog about … Dating in Portugal? As a pretty obviously German girl? Oh, well… I guess that’s a whole new post already.

Back to Almost Lover. Yes, I’m referring to the song from A Fine Franzy. I’ve always liked the song – but I remember, when I first heard it as a teenager, I didn’t really understand it. I was thinking, what the fuck is an almost lover? Either you date and you don’t like, or you do, and start a relationship. How can you be almost lovers?! Later in life, especially after breaking up after my long-term relationship, I started to get a grasp. But I had to become 23 and be in the dating scene for over a year, to actually experience an “almost love”. It was awful, and now I can relate to the song so much, I didn’t listen to it, since. And the peak was actually already 3 weeks ago, I’m writing now because I’m finally able to (I hope) put an end on it to keep myself from getting hurt further. Anyway, and referring so much to a song that hasn’t actually any real connection to a situation (as in, listening to it together etc) is usually NOT MY TYPE.
But hey, while we are at it, my other “hurts now but actually so amazing” playlist for right now includes

Kendrick Lamar – Swimming Pools (Drank)
alt-J – Tessellate
Max Shneider & Alyson Stoner – Sweater Weather (Cover from The Neighbourhood)
Future Islands – Seasons (Waiting On You)

and many more, sadly. That’s the problem if you connect over music. Well, Back to topic 😀 Couldn’t let those unmentioned, sorry guys. After all, this is a music-related dating post.

I actually don’t wanna talk about it in detail (as also my wordpress blog is not very anonymous… actually, only a single one of my friends has a link, but if you really look hard, you can connect to it over my facebook profile…), but it broke my heart. A bit. Like an almost love does. The problem is – tell me, you don’t like me, and I’m out. I’ll start to forget about you pretty soon, I’m fine with that. But give me other reasons. Give me distance, time, tell me whatever, but sitll tell and show me, that you like me – and I’ll keep being there, being into it. Yes, I know I have a problem with giving up on people IN GENERAL. I care about so many people who don’t deserve it. I know and I still keep doing it, because once in a while, you meet those amazing people who are actually worth it. I probably would have been really angry with life because of this character trait, if it wasn’t for one of those amazing people, someone I met very early in January. If you ever happen to read it, you know who you are. Oh and of course because of my amazing flatmate, the best fellow volunteer I could have ever wished for.

Aaaanyway I’m getting sidetracked again! What happened is, exactly that. We started out great, everything was nearly perfect, and for the first time after being single for so long, I thought I had found someone whom I genuinely liked and could imagine to be with. Well. Until he decided, going on like this would turn into a lot of frustration because of distance. Fair enough, I agree. But the way he treated me since we talked about that is just utter shit. And today I’m at the point where I finally say, fuck you, vai-te foder, once and for all (hopefully…).

God, no, I’m tempted to write about details, but that would be too personal and would get me too involved. Thinking about it makes me already angry again.
But yes, he was an almost lover. And considering the lyrics, pretty much exactly what A Fine Franzy were singing about.

I should try being happy about finally fully understanding a song I’ve liked for a long time 😉

I just realised how heartbroken the whole post sounds – actually, I am not, not really. I’m more angry than anything else, and eager to move on. Having a great night out with friends tomorrow (no, I will ignore the fact that I’m meeting his best friend), and still so much work to do.

Speaking of. I should actually continue working instead of keep babbling, but I had to clear my mind. 😀

The Recipe*

Coming to Portugal, I lost a part of my identity by leaving behind my dance studies and my HipHop crew. It was soon obvious, that while there is a really good ballet academy 2 minutes from my apartment (which I soon joined to keep up with ballet. RAD class award this summer =)), there is NO HipHop community here at all. Well, not that I expected that. I’m in a mountain village, it would have been a wonder 😀
From The beginning on I was supposed to teach youngsters here in my EVS, which would have at least keep me connected to HipHop in general, even when without input from the outside, but due to simply no room available at the right hours, it was impossible.
A few days before Christmas I got the opportunity to teach 60min workshops for a few classes together (usually too many) on the last day before the holidays. Obviously I jumped to the opportunity, developed a choreography (ThriftShop) and had a lot of fun. It was soon obvious that the kids loved it – a lot of adults watched too. So as soon as I returned from Germany after the New Year, someone had been able to find a room. And off we went 😀 Only my project’s kids are allowed to participate, although I got many requests from kids from the school. The inscription list was full fast so I even had to consider if I can take new students in because the room is not that big. AND of course without a mirror. But so far not every student can come every time (the project is during their free time, at that time of the day they are waiting for their bus, but sometimes they have extra classes or get picked up by parents), so I don’t think I have to worry much about that.

Anyway. We started. And I was soon amazed how much talent there is! =) Who expected that, from students who never danced before?! I can even do a lot of technique with them, no complaining … Language barriers? Nah … My Portuguese is already on a level where I can usually communicate without problems, it’s way easier to teach in Portuguese than I had thought.

But back to topic. I actually wanted to talk about teaching without a mirror and teaching in general today 😀

I had thought it would be SO difficult without a mirror. And of course, for them some correction is missing and they can’t control their own movements in the mirror (“Is my arm straight?”), but apart from that? Nearly no problems =)
I had taught classes earlier already, but only for substituting or as a workshop, this was my first ever regular group. So before starting I thought quite some time about how I want to teach, what I don’t want, in which way I want to encourage them, etc. I liked the structure of my trainer in Germany, but there were some things I didn’t like and also a certain time restriction (45 instead of 90minutes n sometimes longer with my crew…). I especially disliked that her students depended on her SO much. She danced with them 95% of the time, so if they were asked to dance without her, they usually failed totally – apart from a few, who had a good memory for choreography and a good feeling for rhythm etc. I was sure that this does not have to be like this. Studying dance, I got used to teachers showing something until everyone had understood the movement, showing it again next class, maybe a 3rd at max and then we were on our own. Talking about daily classes of course.
So I experimented. Also, because without a mirror I won’t be able to watch their progress at all if I can’t turn around. So from week 1, after showing some simple basic steps and a few repetitions, I turned around and mirrored their movements. After 2 runthroughs, I only marked. Then I stopped at all. And you know what? It worked extremely well!
Then I tried the same, but slower, with the choreography we started (we also started that one out very slow in general, as it’s not that easy).

The result of this? In week 3, I can go to the back of the room, and film them doing our choreography (~1min right now) – and the first few seconds were PERFECTLY SYNCHRONIZED, exact movements, nice timing, even with accents. Because that is something else I didn’t like with my teachers – we learned the movements to the music, but always just in “some way”. She was rarely exact about what and how we are going to do stuff. That left a lot of room for self development, which can be very nice – but unfortunately instead a lot of movements were very “wischi-waschi” (German term), which means like nothing exactly at all. Just a mess of arms and legs. Sometimes it was hard to even recognise the movement our trainer gave us. I personally believe, that even given exact movements with exact accents etc there is enough room to develop your own style. Ask 2 professional dancers to mirror a movement you do, and they will never look exactly the same. And how could they?! Every body and every mind is different.

So I’m really proud of my students and happy with the way I am teaching now. It’s exactly what I always missed. Still, sometimes a mirror would be great, a bigger room would be great, definitely regular coming students would be great (we’ll have to see, this week due to some school activities most were missing, the 3 weeks before it was way better), and more than 45min would definitely be great. Nothing is ever perfect 😉

But so far it’s great and I’m happy to do it. As a last thing, I’ll share my playlist for the class. I don’t use every song in every class, but this is the playlist I used for the past 4 weeks – the choreography is to Dark Horse btw 😉

Warm-Up / Technique:
Chris Brown – Turn Up The Music
Mr Probz – Waves (Robin Schulz Radio Edit)

Basic Steps:
Kendrick Lamar – Swimming Pools (Drank)
Missy Elliot – Wake Up
Nico and Vinz – Am I Wrong
Mind Da Gap – Guerreiros

Choreography:
Sam The Kid – O povo unido…
Beyoncé – Lose My Breath
Katy Perry – Dark Horse (feat. Juicy J)

Stretching:
Mind Da Gap – Aqui Nos Mantemos
The Black Eyed Peas – Where Is The Love?

*The title is a song from Kendrick Lamar. Definitely go check him out 😉

yes. music.

After having been inactive for a while with a lot of thoughts, but nothing I really wanted to share, I’m back here writing 😉

Those of you following my blog already know, I write about whatever is on my mind the most right now. The past few weeks this has not been traveling, nor cooking, nor particular things of life in general, but music. Yes, one of the reasons I started this blog initially (such a long time ago … did I mention I feel old?!). My passion for music has accompanied me for many, many years already. Such as my music taste changed and widened all the time. The past few years my concentration has been very much on dancing and on music mostly this far that I was looking for fitting dance music for either HipHop or contemporary. So I actually hadn’t followed the news in the music world at all, I missed out on new albums of bands I really like, forgot about some I discovered and started to love, etc. I was simply missing the time, working so much …

Well, this changed. I have time now, and I got sick of watching movies n TV series all the time. But there was something particularly happening that made me realise again how deep my passion for music actually is and which made me question why I abandon it. And yes, I’m talking about a guy I met beginning of this year. Actually, met online first. Met in person later, but this is a whole different story I do not really want to share 😉 Anyway, he’s partly working as a music critique, generally very affiliated to music, etc. I happen to know his best friend as well, also extremely interested in music and in a band himself. Talking to him we soon started sharing music, sometimes a few songs or bands daily. Our taste is very similar and I started discovering some amazing stuff. And I totally delved into this passion again. I also know why I had to abandon it – it’s an addiction!! My music library is growing and growing – and I’m actually really picky.

He also inspired me, after making a list of his favourite bands and a favourite song of them, to do my own. I started over 1,5 weeks ago (while he did his in a few hours XD) and by now I have a first draft. The “problem” is, that it made me rediscover a lot of stuff I had nearly forgotten and also reminded me of so great artists I have to dig deeper into! So it’s still a BIG work in progress. And I did all of this BEFORE going through his list, which he gave me. This will lead to even so much more 😀

So anyway. Get to the point Nana. I decided to share this list with you, bit by bit. It consists of big bands everyone knows, to really unknown small / local ones. But I love every single one of them. (By the way, right now this list is just short of 200 entries. And still growing :D) At the same time, realising I have EXTREMELY few complete albums I love, I started to list those as well. But that’s an even bigger WIP. Funny thing is, that list makes the time I listened to more music very obvious. And so far there are only 3 albums after 2012, out of 25 entries (yes, I’m really extremely picky concerning full records). By the way, I also picked up the guitar myself again…

So yeah. Expect more music soon. I’ll post my first band later. Not necessarily in alphabetical order, but usually it will be. Hope you have fun with that =) It won’t be daily and don’t expect me to write every day any time soon (especially because I’m leaving again for Porto tomorrow night – no sight-seeing, mostly celebrating a friend’s birthday and enjoy being with them 😉 but I’ll find time to go to eat my favourite francesinha for sure!! That will also mean spending Valentine’s Day with friends n party preparations – definitely a good choice if you ask me 😉

I also have some new (improved :D) hairstlyes and travel photos to share (serra da lousa, cascais / lisbon, figueira da foz), I’ll hopefully post them soon 🙂 oh and I started to teach dance here regularly … argh, another different story *add to mental todolist* XD

até já caralhos =)

ps: feel very free to add me on last.fm! http://www.lastfm.de/user/Lennyxy

2014 – wtf? a thank you

Campo Grande, Lisboa – 2nd of January 2015

I’ve been through life changing years, certainly. At the beginning of 2012 for example, my goal was to complete my bachelor degree in Computer Science and instead starting studying Music Theory. Through some coincidences, although still finishing my Bachelor’s, I ended up starting going to a private dance academy and studying contemporary dance – for which I paid 340€ per month, which led to me working more than ever and owing my parents. For the next 2 years I was working non-stop.

Let’s just say, my life changed radically and I finally followed a passion of mine instead of just doing what I was good in.

In 2013 I broke up with my boyfriend after 4 years of relationship, which led me to develop a lot as a person. I’m still glad I did, and am still friends with this wonderful guy, but it was the best decision of that year.

But the only thing that comes to mind when I think back on 2014 is … WTF??? I feel like I can hardly relate to the person I was before June. My thoughts have changed, I’ve done a lot of things I thought I’d never have the guts to do.
If you’d told me in May, that in 2014 I’d move to another country, learn a compltely new language so well I usually can communicate without any problems, hitchhike, travel alone for over 2 weeks, in general travel more than the past years in my life n totally fall in love with it, will make well around 20 new friends, meet probably 100 new people I actually stay in touch with, discover that most of my friends in Berlin are no real friends, from July until December speak 90% English and Portuguese instead of German, reduce all my belongings by more than 2/3 (wild guess), give up dancing as a serious career, instead go volunteering and discover that teaching is a true passion of mine – I would have bet for a 1000€ that you are wrong.

And still, here I am. Having done all of that, and hundreds and thousands of stuff more I would have never believed and can’t even remember right now. And you know what? Although there were plenty of bad experiences as well, I can very well sum up that 2014 has not only been my most life-changing, but also probably the best year I’ve ever had.
And honestly, I actually don’t even remember really how exactly I made a few of those life changing decisions like going alone on a 2 week trip through a country I hardly know, hitchhiking for the first time in my life, after not even having traveled a weekend on my own 😀 I think I was desperate for a life change and willing to take every risk.

Now I feel like I found home, and I am happy. Truly happy. Of course, not everything is perfect by far – but there is an inner feeling of happiness, that makes me smile at the sun at nearly every day for no specific reason. This is what I had been looking for the past 23 years, and here it finally is.

Thank you 2014. And welcome, 2015, whatever you might bring.

Lisboa – Alameda