EVS Chronicles in Foreign Countries Pt.2: Living in Lisbon

Hi Dilyana, just to follow the usual protocol tell us who you are: where are you from, what are you doing and where are you going.

Hello, I’m Dilyana from Varna, Bulgaria. I am a volunteer in European NGO Mais Cidadania (more citizenship) in Lisbon, Portugal. I work in a relations department and my tasks are about promoting the activities of the organisation. I also participate in some school workshops. There, we explain to the kids what it means to be a European citizen. 

Finally, now you’re an EVS volunteer, but – plot twist! – before to apply for this project in Portugal you were my supervisor inside the FOR YOU Association. This is a bit unusual since in most of the cases the EVS volunteers become workers in the fields of the European Voluntary Service or the Erasmus + program (by founding their own association, for example) after the ending of that foreign experience as volunteers, not vice-versa. 

Yes, I worked as a youth worker for more than 10 years. First, I started with local volunteering. After, I coordinated volunteers and then I worked on projects about volunteering on a European level. I have never been a European volunteer before, so it was fair enough catching this opportunity. EVS is my next step to grow up professionally and I’m really glad to be part of it.

How do you feel being on the opposite side of the barricade and what elements do you find more interesting about this peculiar experience? Why did you choose to become an EVS volunteer after some years of practice as a coworker for a sending-hosting organization?

I learnt a lot of things concerning myself, my friends and my family and the other people as well. I learnt very good lessons regarding my professional and private life. I am that kind of person who always tries to improve herself. Therefore, being part of this new culture, meeting new people every day, travelling around and making new friendships make me rich as a person. I have already got some experiences abroad and I don’t think to stop. 

What kind of tasks are you conducting now on behalf of your hosting organization and how much helpful do you find your previous engagement in your actual activities? 

I feel very useful since my tasks are really various. The promotion of Erasmus + programme, writing articles, taking photos, organizing events, promoting of EVS in schools. Now I work on a project called Human Library – a method to break the stereotypes of society about the others.
But EVS is not only my tasks at work as my project is my life here in Portugal. Everything in my daily life, everything I’m doing is part of this non-stop learning process.

Because of my past Portuguese Erasmus, I would be really curious to know how you are finding Portugal and more specifically Lisbon in comparison with your native sea-hometown: Varna.  Do you feel a vague feeling of Saudade

I’m in love with Lisbon! This is a city which never sleeps and always changes. The people are so nice and they always kiss you (which was weird for me at the beginning 😀 ). Always, something is happening somewhere – cultural, musical events. I went to one of the best trance music festivals in Europe – Boom. For me, Portugal is the place when my dreams came true. I tried to not have big expectations, but to be honest, I had 😀 

Talking about social life and work plans, how you might see yourself after your coming back to Bulgaria? 

Well, I plan to continue with the projects for volunteering and to inspire more young people to take part in it. I also have an NGO and I wanna be more focused on cultural and environmental projects. Next year Varna will become the European Youth Capital, so I have a lot of ideas and things to do. For 2018 I don’t know yet, but this world has a lot of places and cultures which I missed or never saw. So…

Traditional question: tell us the craziest, weirdest, funniest, the most awkward or messy experience you faced during your EVS experience (better if there is some Porto wine involved in it). 

Haha, since I’m here I didn’t get drunk, so I can not share shame story for the Portuguese wine. By the way, the wine is really really good and cheap!

The first week something weird happened to me every day. My shoes broke on the street and the next day I broke my cell phone as well; I’ve got lost and sick, I cracked a mirror and so on. It was funny because at the end of all of this “bad” luck I finished at an amazing party with one of my favourite DJ’s ever. I met a bunch of very nice people that became my friends. I was so happy at that moment I will never forget it.

I will never forget how Portugal has changed my life, my opinion about many things and my point of views and perspectives concerning life. I have to say thank to all of these people – no matter if good or bad – who helped me in this growing up process!

Wow, all of these random misadventures without getting drunk at all? I’m amazed: that requires a special innate talent for sure! Anyway, I’m glad about you ’cause I could feel perfectly a sincere enthusiasm and an overflowing fulness of life in what you said. Good luck and enjoy the last part of your EVS!