With the sunrise in the morning, I rose to the sky. I got lost in the clouds with a metal bird which was the most beautiful proof of mankind’s love for the sky and flying for centuries. After 5 hours, as the sun was setting, I came back to earth from the sky. Later, at the airport, I was greeted by a flatmate that I had never seen before, but she was friendly as if we had known each other for years. The adventure that I started in the sky continued into the underground. It seems that mankind got bored of its love for the sky, and put a metal snake underground. After passing through dark tunnels and a few stations the names I didn’t know, I got off at the station called Marques de Pombal and reached the earth again. 

I got lost in the streets of this city, which was designed for me to lose the weight I gained during the corona time, with the sounds of the wheel of my luggage. While looking around like a curious child, I followed my flatmate. From the very first day, Lisbon thought me that once I go down to a hill, I have to climb back up over and over again. Just like that, I reached my new home, the Casa de Bernardim, and what actually made me feel like home were my new flatmates, who always had smiles on their faces. After a couple of days past another flatmate arrived from away. Then my roommate arrived and he was late because he came from farther away. Finally, the Casa Bernardim family was completed.

Since I had a couple of free weeks before my welcome day with my coordinating and hosting organizations, I started exploring the city of Lisbon with its ups and downs. I walked and walked, sometimes I got lost by chance and sometimes I wanted to get lost and discover something new. After climbing the slopes and steps to watch the sunset at the beautiful “Miradouro’s”, this fairy-tale city taught me that “to see beautiful things, we have to go for it even tho sometimes it’s hard and we can be sure that it will always worth it.

Finally, I met with the Spin team at the welcome day and also with the SPEAK organization that I volunteer at, and after I met with my coordinators and other colleagues at SPEAK. The SPEAK office has a great atmosphere. I felt welcomed and motivated about my project. The purpose of SPEAK is to connect newcomers with locals living in the same city through a language and culture exchange program that has two main activities: language groups and community-organized events. We work with many ex-pats, immigrants, refugees, and students. My main responsibilities are interacting with Buddies in Almada city in general and developing the community there. I give online training to new buddies, explaining the purpose of SPEAK and providing information about language sessions, and events. I also get feedback from buddies and help them with their questions and problems about the language sessions. 

In addition, I currently lead a language session and prepare a guide for Turkish buddies. My colleagues at SPEAK always help me and teach me new things, and this is a great opportunity for me to improve myself. At first, I had a little difficulty because there was a lot of new information, but then everything fell into place and I continued my project more comfortably. Within a week, I had a Christmas dinner with both the Spin and SPEAK teams. At both events, I met people from other countries. In these warm family environments, I felt as if I had been in this city for years and knew these people. I also started learning Portuguese thanks to one of our volunteer friends. 

I am always grateful for being at the same table for dinner with my flatmates, the little trips we take on the weekend, the conversations we have while cooking in the kitchen, the Miroduro’s we go to catch the sunset, and me always being late, the sweet reproaches of them, the activities we did with other volunteers in the Casa de Bernardim. Countless feelings, smiles, conversations, sunsets, stairs, drinks, songs, food, sweet discussions, new places, new people, and stories …

I laugh, I learn, I see, I taste, I try, I share, I tell, I understand, I experience. In short, I am feeling alive.

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