Aug 25, 2015


Holidays are good, but as everything good in life they also tend to end. So for this reason after holidays I still want to talk about traveling.

Normally holidays consist of travelling somewhere even if it’s from work to home. I am not going to talk how Red Cross Youth works during holidays, but will present a pretty new project that is called Roteiro+ and is connected with traveling.
Roteiro+ is a project of Red Cross in partnership with Portuguese National Agency for Erasmus+ Youth in Action projects. The protocol was signed just in April and I am really proud that I can be part of this project.

The main idea of this project is that Red Cross Youth department of Braga travels around Portugal to the other Red Cross departments presenting them the opportunities of the Erasmus+ program.

As it is a new project so not so many sessions have happened, but we already visited Chaves, Porto-Matosinhos, Fafe and Gondomar. Of course in every city we were welcomed more warmly than just with open arms. It is really interesting to see how other Red Cross departments looks like, to find the similarities and differences. One thing is for sure – all Red Cross departments are more than friendly. I cannot even compare any visit with another because they were amazing in their own way.
The presentation is more concentrated on the youth and we explain more in details all the possibilities of Erasmus+. What they can do, where they can go, how everything can be real.

My part in this presentation is just to talk about me. How I found my EVS, how is life in EVS and all other details that might be important of interesting to hear. It sounds really easy and it kind of is, just the fact that I need to do it in Portuguese makes it more interesting.  

The part I love the most about Roteiro+ is the faces of people; how they change from the first sentence of presentation till the last word after everything is over. You can see the sparkles in the eyes and the will to do everything. I feel like I managed to change someone’s life just in one day!

I am sad that I will not be able to attend all the sessions, but I can still feel happy, that I would have participated at least in some. Spread the news, inspire others and make someone realize that EVS is something not only to listen about, but also to live it!


Aug 13, 2015

Cultural Challenges for EVS

Being an EVS volunteer each day you may encounter not just with a work challenges, but also “country” challenges. So today let’s see some of the cultural challenges, you may encounter.

I come from an Easter Europe country where people are a little bit more conservative and more closed. Well, Portugal is totally opposite. Here people like to touch you, invade your personal space and of course kiss you while saying hello, what is not something so usual for me. I don’t mind changes and I got ok with it, but of course I had some funny moments.

It was my first days in Portugal and I was just learning how to say or probably “do” the proper Hello in Portuguese, when somehow I mixed sides. Maybe because I am lefty and I do everything backwards, or because of some other reasons, but I leaned to the wrong side. When I realized it was a wrong cheek, I instantly tried so change sides, the person also got confused, and as I had in my head like a little tutorial singing how to say hello – cheek, kiss, cheek, kiss – I was already in the part of kiss, when I decided to change directions… So what can I say, I just gave a very warm Portuguese welcome. Of course both of us felt very embarrassed, but it is life, anything can happen!
Other thing that I had to get used to was different climate. I come from a pretty cold country, but it’s only cold outside. Despite the fact that outside might be -20 degrees inside will always be +20 or even more. Winters in Portugal without central heating system are a huge difference but then you spend more time with others and heat just one room and stay in the house with more sweaters and winter pants. However, the climate for me is extreme not only in winters. I am used to not that great temperature differences, but here people feel OK with +35 in the day and less than 20 in the night. For my Lithuanian body it’s too much, so I am always wearing a sweater when others are with t-shirts and I already got used to be called a girl from Angola, because I am always cold in Portugal!

One way or another, EVS is an experience with lots of different challenges. They arise every day and in a lot of situations. You may try to hide or run away, or you can just deal with them with your head up high. EVS is a school of life, so try to take as much from it as you can!


Aug 11, 2015

The week of Barraquinha

Last week was mentioned the great festivity of São João, but it is not just a festival, but also a fair. In Braga the whole city is already decorated more than one week before the festival of São João and it also has more nice things.  One of them, as already mentioned – is the fair of São João.

In one of the main streets of Braga you can find more than hundred small Barraquinhas – little stand that sell everything. Starting from cookies to shoes and anything you can imagine. The traditional music is playing almost all day long and every evening there are way more events in the city to prepare for the great festival of São João.
Ponto Vermelho also has its own Barraquinha in the fair. For this reason once again all the great people of all departments of Delegation of Braga unite and share their time also working in Barraquinha. All the resources are needed because the working hours of Barraquinha are from 10 in the morning until 11:30 in the night.
 It is nice and interesting experience. The easy part is that everything is sold for 1 Euro, for this reason anyone can work not worrying that they might forget the price of sell some things in the different prices, and also it is easy to count how many things you have already sold. Another reason why is it fun, is that you can work on your sale person skills. From trying to convince people to stop by your Barraquinha; to trying to convince them to buy more stuff.

I loved working there and trying to communicate with people. We had lovely customers and of course not so lovely. Some just wanted to chat and others were almost demanding to find them their size even if we tried to explain that we only have what they can see.  

Anyway, it was a new experience and I think it is a good from time to time to run away from your routine and be someone else for a change.

Aug 6, 2015

EVS after work

We as EVS volunteers try to live here till the fullest. We try new work areas and always are the first to help everyone, because everything is still very interesting and we want to do everything! For this simple reason, we want to do everything not only in work area, but also in free time.

Portugal is a great place to do your EVS, not only because old tradition and amazing architecture, friendly people and nice working environment, but also because of all the celebrations.

I am not a very religious person, but ended up in the one of the most religious cities in Portugal – Braga. You can find a church in every single corner and I am not kidding at all. But it’s not that bad, when you get used to it. For example – Braga as all the main cities in Portugal has a Saint of the city and it is a huge celebration. The entire city is decorated and there are a lot of traditions for this celebration.

This celebration is called São Joaõ. And the best part is that it is also celebrated in Porto. For this and only this reason, we decided to celebrate this amazing feast in Porto. Of course we had to work, so we left for Porto just in the late evening. Almost made it to the train, like Portuguese style, but made it.

We even had a make-up session in train and didn’t even see how the time past and we were in Porto. What is more, we had green wigs – presenting traditional herbs of this celebration and the best part was that the wigs we got in Braga for free and basically no one in Porto had them, so it was very easy to find each other in the crowd. The not so fun part was that there is also a tradition to hit everyone with a plastic hammer on the head during this night, so we also got hit more times, because everyone wanted to hit a green wig.

 This celebration is also known, for Sardinhas – traditional Portuguese fish that everybody was grilling in the streets. Everywhere you go, you can smell the Sardinhas and see people just eating only them. It’s not only restaurants who are grilling them, there are a lot of casual people who just go out of their houses and make a Sardinha party next to the house and sometimes they offer Sardinhas or you can buy them.

You walk in a huge crowd of people, get hit by hammers, you stop and dance in the crowd, because someone was dancing and now everyone is following the lead. You have a great time with your friends and then, you go to see the fireworks in the Ribeira – next to the river. I felt like it was New Year night how great the fireworks were.

It was really one of the greatest nights – all the crazy traditions, all the amazing food, spectacular views and of course best company ever! 

Aug 4, 2015

Wrap it up!

Despite the fact that we are in the middle of summer and the sun is as hot as it could be, let’s remember some other actions that happened more than half year ago when it was even snowing in some parts of Portugal.

This action that takes place in the same Continente and is another National level action and is called Embrulhamos a causa! (Wrapping the cause!). This action takes place between the end of November and Christmas. The main idea of this action is that people who buy presents in Continente can come to the wrapping stand of Red Cross and get the presents wrapped for free.

Actually, presents are wrapped for a donation, but the donation depends on you. Nobody will look at you differently if you donate more or less money. The main point is that you are donating for a good cause!

Working there is really funny. Firstly, not all the volunteers know how to wrap presents nicely, so we are again like a big family trying to help each other to cope with the presents who are not in the perfect box shape or needs more than one sheet of wrapping paper. It is also funny, because you can use your imagination while wrapping a present and make it look like a candy, dinosaur or whatever you can make happen.

What is more, you get to see what people are buying as presents and maybe it will help you to get some ideas for the presents you want to buy. Some people are nice and they not only bring some things for us to wrap, but also bring us presents, like a bar of chocolate, so you can feel the real Christmas spirit in the air.

Some presents are impossible to wrap or at least it looks like that. Once there was a human size toys of Santa Claus and Snowman that we needed to wrap. Another time we needed to wrap raw Bacalhau – traditional Portuguese fish that was also a great challenge. And I also heard stories about last year when someone had to wrap a bicycle!

I think this action is really great, not only to learn how to wrap presents, deal with impossible presents, but also get in the spirit of Christmas, when everyone is nicer, with bigger smiles and wants to help with a great cause by getting their presents wrapped!