1st of July: Arrival at the airport of Madeira.
Next destination: 30th April. Come back home.
Having just landed at the airport I quickly realize what this adventure will mean for me. A personal challenge to be developed over 10 months, working as a volunteer in the Students’ Union of the University of Madeira.
In the first few days, I settled in at the Students’ Residence in Rua de Santa Maria, in the old part of the city, sharing a room with my friend Victor (from my city, Alzira) and Iván. We are all volunteers and we would work for the same Union, thought in different projects.
We quickly befriend a group of Turkish students. Everything was new for me: another country, another language, another culture, and I doubted I could adapt. Surely, Poncha helped with adaptation.
During the first month we studied the History of the island and the city of Funchal, particularly, the Jesuits’ College, where I would work as a tourist guide. Not long after, we are ready to guide our first tours. I was very nervous but full of energy to demonstrate everything I had been learning since I had arrived here. After all, I was developing a new profession. After the first 30 minute visit, the result was good. My English was not fluent but the tourists enjoyed the visit. This was gratifying.
Time goes on between sunny days, Fado and endless ocean views, and I start learning the Portuguese language. First words, first errors. No problem: we are still learning. The hardest thing is the pronunciation, but I try to practice it every day with my workmates. This is important because in the souvenir shop of the College we receive groups of tourists (mostly French, but that’s another story) and you need to speak their language: another challenge for me.
While all this happens, I also have time to explore the island. Ponta de Sao Lorenço, Encumeada or Levada das 25 Fontes… wonderful places that you should visit, even accompanied by new friends made in this island. Some of them left because their projects had ended, but surely we would see each other again, somewhere. For sure.
Another interesting point was the training we received in Braga with other volunteers working in Portugal, for five days. We did all kinds of activities: games in groups, individual, performances … it was really funny! I met people from Turkey, Italy, Uruguay, France, Poland… During the week we did activities to know each other (great point!) and we were also told about volunteering, different projects and things that we can do when our project ends. One thing to note was the explanation of the Youthpass, which we fill with everything we have done during our stay here, a document that can help you in your work life.
A few weeks later, the day is already taking shape and the work is more routine than before. There is no time for mistakes. No more tests. Here begins the real challenge. Ten months in which I will develop a new job, a new language in a new country but with the confidence and desire to always be better.
Students’ Union Volunteer
Project financed by ERASMUS+.