portugal

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!)

14 (German) habits that changed when I moved to Portugal

Being both within Europe, I expected not THAT many cultural differences when I moved from Berlin, Germany, to Portugal end of last year. Except for some things that I already knew, but considered prejudices, I discovered, that there is way more. The following 14 things are just an excerpt of my experiences here …

All pictures (c) NSFoto (me)

1. Regard “5 minutes” as actual 5 minutes on the clock

Although the Latin countries being not on time is a cliché – it is just as true for 90% of the inhabitants. On the contrary, Germans are known for their punctuality, and although personally not being the best example for that, I still was surprised here. If someone tells me “just a minute”, I expect them to take 10, maybe 15min, and if it takes them even longer to ask them what happened. Portuguese just regard time as something way more flexible than Germans. This does not mean that doctor’s appointments or working hours are flexible (a big mistake I made in the beginning), but nobody expects their friends to be at a bar for a drink before an hour after the supposed meeting time.

2. Drinking (American) coffees during the day at work or at home for waking up

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The Portuguese espresso is undoubtedly one of the best in the world. Like Italian? Go to Portugal and you will be even more amazed. Moreover, drinking an espresso in a café, bar, or whatever is cheap. 60c is the basic price, and going for at least one espresso daily is a common social thing and nearly expected of you. Arriving at 11pm in a bar and ordering an espresso? Completely normal.

3. Bothering about my last name. Or, even my first name. Or, real names at all

And for a few reasons:
First, nobody cares much about last names, unless to identify a person (1000s of Joões and Anas, anyone?). Going there with unique looks and a unique first name, nobody cares about my last name. Unless they wanna try how to pronounce it to make fun of the German pronounciation.
Second, because of a way lower variety of both first and last names than in Germany, nicknames here are a given. Especially amongst men, I hardly know anyone usually called by his proper first name. Ranges go from last name, simple short versions, names considering appearances, to ridiculous names know one really remembers where they came from.
And third, as 99% are even pronouncing my (not even German) name wrong when they first try it, and some even keep failing after months, I got used to so many variations, that I basically listen to everything that KINDA sounds like my name. Not kidding. I turn my head thousands of times someone is shouting Gabi (short for Gabriel) instead of Nadin.

4. My view on meals

DSC_0009 (2)Back in Germany, I usually ate a big breakfast early in the morning (7am), a normal lunch, and an early light dinner at 6 or 7, maybe 7.30. The meals consisted of a lot of vegetables, a lot of spices, rarely meat, hardly ever fish, and the food was hardly ever typical German.

Portuguese love their whole culinary – they love their food, meals (at least lunch and especially dinner) are a social event. Their whole way of eating is very different: they don’t use many spices (and even those sparcely), they have this really strange habit of eating rice and fries together, cooked vegetables on the side is a special (although a salad with the meal is normal), and they eat their food cold a lot of times because they get caught up in conversations. Oh, and a meal without meat or fish is not a meal!

5. Being focused on one language

By now I can proudly say I am fluent on a “normal conversation” level in 3 languages, German, English and Portuguese. While in the beginning, I sometimes got confused with only 2 languages, now I can now switch between all 3 within seconds, and even understand a word of Turkish from my flatmate in between. This ability gets lost as soon as I get really tired, but gets doubled with a few drinks 😉

6. Cooking daily

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Eating out is really cheap, especially compared to Germany. And I’m not talking about Fast Food, but whole meals. Plus, drinks are ridiculously cheap from my POV, so why not be a bit more lazy and enjoy a dinner out instead of cooking every day?

7. Actually answering when someone asks how I am

While Germans expect an answer when asking you how you are, and look at you waiting for an answer, the Portuguese “tudo bem?” and its variations is part of the greeting and nobody expects you to give a long answer, or even to answer at all. Seeing someone walking by on the other side of the street? “Olá, tudo bem?” and keep on walking. In Germany, you probably don’t even notice each other because you’re not really looking at who walks by.

8. Seeing my (local) friends once a week max

DSC_0223If I haven’t seen my friends here for 3 days, I’m wondering where they are. People here are socialising a lot, and going for a café or a beer daily or at least every 2nd day is part of the routine. In Germany, even living 15 minutes from one of my best friends, I saw her once a week on the weekend, if even. Completely normal.


9. Being able to go unnoticed

Forget it. Just, forget it. Apart from Portuguese people usually being pretty curious, as a blond blue-eyed girl speaking with an accent, you have all eyes on you within seconds. Especially in Berlin, it’s nearly normal that half of your friends have an immigration background at the least, here people looking like me usually are tourists. Like, 97%. That means that whenever I’m on the streets, I have eyes on me, naturally. Germany is full of tourists and foreign looking people, so nobody cares much about other people on the streets.

10. Vorglühen at home, club later

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In Germany, you meet your friends for Vorglühen at home, a bunch of drinks before usually hitting a club later in the night. But in Portugal, a jantar (pt. for dinner) is the common thing to do here with friends, family, or, even more often, both. You invite them to dinner, have some beer and wine and go to a café / bar later. And if you happen to be really into it, you hit a club in the night. Getting drunk? Not something very usual to do here in general. This is for big celebrations only, not a weekend habit.

11. Thinking of people older than me as people with a lot of dignity and trying to uphold an image

A sorry here to all Germans, but it’s a fact: The major part of Germans is a pretty uptight bunch, at least from age 40 up. Having a woman (not talking about family) that could be your grandma making jokes with AND about you all day is not something I ever saw in Germany. Yes, you see them smile and everything, but gestulating a lot, telling funny stories, even making fun of you? A very rare image and no way anyone would even think of describing a German old lady. Germans seem to reach an age where they think they have to change and go through life with more dignity, they are “too old” for that “young stuff”. But does that really mean having fun in life?

12. Not traveling

DSC_0290 (2)Traveling here is cheap. And you can basically pick a random location on the map, and you’ll find something worth seeing. I hardly ever traveled in Germany – mostly because it was expensive and I thought most beautiful things are outside of the country. This view changed, and if one day I’ll have the time and money to travel around a bit, I certainly will.

13. Not knowing the real differences between German and other European cultures

It is interesting that you actually have to leave your own country to learn more about it, but it is true. Being confronted with a culture, that seems to be so similar on the surface, but is pretty different on the inside, every single day makes you aware of what being German actually means. You learn about prejudices, you understand the small quirks of your native language, the unique things of your culture, etc.

14. Sunny days are special days

DSC_0088 (2)When at the beginning of last December in Portugal there was a day without any clouds and a shining blue sky, I was baffled. In Germany, everyone would have left their house to basically “celebrate” that day. Here, hardly anyone noticed. And I soon saw why, it is just normal.
If the temperature in summer drops below 25, it’s frio. Having clouds on the sky? A bad day.

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

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 😉

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 😉

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

How to be in Braga for 5 days, see nothing and get used to eating every hour

I was in Braga with my flatmate and fellow volunteer last week, one of the cities still on my ToDo list. From Tuesday to Saturday.
Guess what happened? We saw way more on our pitstop in my beloved Porto in 4h on the way there, then we saw in Braga the rest of the week. I´m not kidding. The weather was downright awful, but that was not the only reason. We had to go there for an on arrival training from the volunteering (EVS). I´m not saying the training wasn´t interesting and fun and we haven´t had a good time – but there was one big problem – it was way too tense. We started with breakfast from 8am, first activities at 9.30, coffee break at 11.00, activities, long lunch 12.30 to 15.00 (usually we ended up finishing lunch at 14.30…), activites, coffee break at 16.30, activities, lunch at 19.45, obligatory activities until ~22.00. after that, there were still activities, just not obligatory ones. I´m not kidding, it was like this. Yes, coffee breaks sound like “breaks”. But spend them in a room with 40 people who want to get to know each other and have a lot of experiences to share, and you will realise, it´s just NOT a BREAK. Just a different kind of activity.

So after arriving Tuesday at 18.00, this was the program for Wednesday and Thursday. On Friday, we only had activities until lunch and then a free”ish” afternoon. Exactly. That meant that we were divided into random groups and had to fulfill tasks, which basically meant you had to spend your day with them. I don´t call that free at all … And, of course, especially on this day, there was not a second without rain.

And you want to know the best of all this? I had one pair of shoes with me, sneakers who broke on Wednesday morning. And I had no possibility to buy new shoes … When on Wednesday night we went out and walked back in the rain, my shoes got soaked and I walked around the good part of Thursday with extremely wet and cold feet, unless I took them off and later could borrow flip flops from another volunteer. That meant, that the “free” part of Friday was occupied by completing the tasks and desperately searching for shoes. In the meantime, my flatmate, who was also my roommate in Braga, got sick. It´s an absolute miracle I didn´t get sick, although I felt like getting sick for the good part of our stay. We ended up leaving 24h earlier …

The only photos I have, show exactly what we did – ALL of them are made inside. And there are, like, 4 pictures …

volunteer´s art galery

It´s a shame. If possible, I had even wanted to go to Guimarães or Viana do Castelo while I´m so close, but that was simply impossible. I´m just glad we made that Porto pitstop, that basically saved the whole day.

What sticks in mind of Braga? Nothing, only the volunteering stuff… And a constant feeling of hunger now ôO How can Portuguese eat constantly, and still not get fat?!

Looking at my beloved Portugal travel wall now, I feel like a betrayer having Braga on there… Oh well. I think I´ll just have to come back instead of crossing it from my to do list =)

my portugal travel wall =)

Estou a sourrir

I am smiling =) I still am, and i will continue to. I feel I am where I belong, even if not all is going well. I´ve been in Portugal since 3 weeks now (how I got here is a long story for another day). My whole self just cries out

I AM FINE, THIS IS IT!!

and that is an amazing feeling. this is, what you should reach out for in your life. Life can never be perfect, but just this tiny feeling of well-being and belonging – that´s it. It doesn´t have to be associated with a location, it can be a person, a situation, anything. If it´s that one guy that makes you feeling well all-around? Then that´s him. You feel in heaven with your family surrounding you? Then that´s it. You feel at ease while traveling? Then that´s it!

I will travel myself this weekend again, even if it´s hardly 20km, to Coimbra 😀 Couchsurfing once more. A topic for another post. For today, just a cheering up.

Because even to me, something bad happened yesterday – and still, I really am fine. This  makes me really realize, how happy I am with my situation now. Be never content with where you are and what you do when you don´t have that feeling. And if it´s changing, then change yourself or your situation.

Too many people in this world stay where they are due to thousands of reasons. Follow your heart, please. Everything else will leave you with that what if feeling. Try and succeed or fail and try something else. What is the worst thing that can happen in this life? Think about it, truly do. And then think about whether it´s worth the risk.

For me, this means now traveling, moving to Portugal, trying out new things, wanting to change parts of my character concerning socializing. And somehow I managed to do that (or am doing that), even earn some money and pay back my loan to my parents. And learning something new EVERY SINGLE DAY. What did I learn today? I can be happy, even if I´m not happy with parts of myself (whoever is?), and parts of my situation. And why´s that? Because I followed my heart and I believe in what I did and what I´m doing.

Please share your thoughts =) What makes you happy? Do you feel you want to change something? And if so, why don´t you?!

Love, Nana

PS: The image is the lovely Porto (caralho!), not where I am right now. I wanna reactivate the blog and talk about my experiences here in Portugal, but for the moment this was the most important thing on my mind. =) Probably an entry about tiny cultural differences that can mean so much more to yourself soon!