So this is my first post as an Erasmus student. I decided to study for a while in Portugal at ESAD (Escola Superior de Artes e Design). For now there is no photos because I just didn’t have time to take any and I didn’t even unpack my camera yet. But I promise sooner or later there will be photos too. =) I’ll write these posts just in English language. I hope you will enjoy my Erasmus exchange reading! =)
DAY 1 – Thursday, 20.9.2012
The last few hours at home I was a mess. I didn’t know where my head was, all I was thinking about was if I packed everything that I will need, if all the papers and arrangements for the exchange were where they are supposed to be and so on. But when we got in the car and hit the road I was feeling much calmer. It is what it is. But then there was a traffic jam on the way to the airport and we were moving really slowly so I was getting nervous again, because in cases like this I always become worried that I might be too late. But when the road was clear again I was ok.
We got to the Venice – Marco Polo airport on time and we did our check in. Gaja and I had the luggage limit of 43kg, we had 42,6kg so we were really happy about that. Then we were on our plane to Lisbon! Because there was no seating order Gaja, Damir and I were able to sit together. I was so excited! I love that feeling when the plane starts to lift from the ground!
After three hours of flight we landed, picked our luggage and found a taxi that drove us to our hostel (that turned out to be a pension). The guy that worked there was a bit funny, but he was really nice. And it was our first night in Portugal. =)
Day 2 – Friday, 21.9.2012
When we woke up we had to get to the train station where we would catch a train to Caldas da Rainha. It was a nightmare to get around with subway trains, because we had to change three trains and at most stations the elevators or escalators were not working or there wasn’t any at all! You know how much luggage you have when you’re moving, but we had less because of the flight, but still, I had this large suitcase and a smaller, but heavy bag, Gaja had one large and one small suitcase and Damir had a backpack, large suitcase and a box with his desk computer! So it was really a mission impossible to get around… But it turned out it was mission possible, because we did it. We were really lucky Damir was with us, he helped soooo much with the heavy baggage! Although we felt a bit bad about that, because it was his birthday and he had to work so hard…
Well, we managed to get to Caldas at around 13:30 and when we were a bit lost. So we were at the right city, but what now, where to go, what to do with the luggage? We had to get to ESAD (Escola Superior de Artes e Design) so we got on the bus that took us near the school. Again we had to walk a bit with our luggage, even had to go a bit uphill where there was no real path… It was crazy! We were hungry and tired, so we started to be pissed off about everything… =) But when we arranged our accommodation at the girls and boys residence it was much better. We went to the residence by taxi, so it was ok.
Gaja and I got a room at girls residence that’s on the west side of the city and Damir got a room at boys residence on east side of the city. And right away we hated the rule “No boys allowed” in the rooms, or “No girls allowed” at boys residence. We were allowed to hang out only in the kitchen. But ok, at least we had a bad and a shower.
Day 3 – Saturday, 22.9.2012
In the morning we went around the town a bit to see where we are and get a feeling of it. We also went to the park in the center and we fell in love with it right away! It’s gorgeous and there is one very old gothic building that is abandoned, but still looks amazing, like from some movie! And a small lake with row boats, ducks and swans… Oh, it’s a dream! =D
Damir met a Portuguese guy named Emanuel at his residence and in the afternoon we met up with him and he helped us with our search for an apartment. We went to see one but it was not totally furnished and equipped and we would have a bit of a problem with getting the internet service. And the lady didn’t speak English so Emanuel was our translator. =)
After that Emanuel took us on a short tour around the town and he told us where some shops and services that we might need are. He was very nice, but to be honest, most of Portuguese people are! We spent most of the afternoon with him.
Day 4 – Sunday, 23.9.2012
We kept on searching for the apartment on the internet and we sent some emails. We got some answers that apartments are already occupied, but one of the answers was that one is still available and that we can come to see it. We were glad that the answer was in English, the real one, not Google-translate one. =D
So we went to see the apartment and the landlady was really nice and her English was great so it was easy to communicate. We fell in love with the apartment! It was all equipped, more modern and in great condition. We were not totally sure about it because it had no outdoor space that we wanted so much and no space for bicycles if we had them and also we would have to arrange the internet service, but the lady said it is doable and it shouldn’t be a problem. We decided to see some more apartments to see what else is out there.
Then we walked around the city a bit and joked about some houses and districts like: “Imagine living here, oh my, it’s crazy and it feels unsafe…” Because here is a lot of old buildings and a lot of graffiti, so sometimes it really looks unsafe and you’re not sure what to expect next…
Day 5 – Monday, 24.9.2012
In the morning we had a meeting with Sandra, our Erasmus exchange coordinator, and later we had a meeting with some professors that could help us pick the right classes – not much luck there… But ok, at least we got some more information about which professors could really be the right for us to talk to and to help us with subjects.
We also met some more exchange students and it was really nice to be accepted right away and we talked like we know each other for a long time! =D Mostly we talked with Brazilians and they were great, friendly and fun to talk to. =)
I also met my Erasmus buddy and she helped us with search for the apartment. We went to see one near the park and it was the same building we joked about it last night when we were like: “Imagine living here, haha, it has a balcony!” So were laughing when we realized that. =D And the owner didn’t speak English so my buddy was translating us everything. The apartment was old and it smelled old and full of moisture. There was even some mold in corners and the worst thing was the windows that should be replaced long ago and when we imagined winter with these windows it was just no way we that would want to live in there. And it was quite expensive apartment for what it was offering and also the owner wanted extra money if we want that he lends us some beddings and towels and so on. It was just a big NO!
Later we met up with Raquel, a girl that was on Erasmus exchange at our school previous year and she helped us with some more apartment hunt. We went to see one apartment that apparently she lived in few years ago. =) We liked the outdoor space, but that’s pretty much all that we liked about it. =) It was even older than the one we saw before, it was small and it gets crowded right away and not to mention the kitchen that was just like from some parody movie. The cooker was in some weird position and it was just not functional, not for us! Although the owner was nice and friendly. But we’re not renting him, we’re renting an apartment. =)
At the evening the Brazilian girl Wal called me and asked if we want to go out a bit, because there supposed to be a party. Damir already went to his residence, but Gaja and I stayed at the same residence as Wal so we said why not. And so we were two Slovenian girls and two Brazilian girls going through the city to meet two Spanish girls… =) Then we met even more people, most of them Portuguese. Gaja and I noticed that these people are even more into parties and drinking than Slovenian people! We stayed with them for a while, but we went home early because we wanted to get some sleep. It looks like we’re just not interested in this type of parties anymore, or maybe we just have to find the right circle of people to hang out with.
Day 6 – Tuesday, 25.9.2012
We had a meeting with all the exchange students and we all went to the ceramics museum in the city. This city is very well known because of it and it has a ceramic factory and so on. It’s because of a ceramic artist Rafael Bordalo Pinheiro that started with this and made this so popular here. So yeah, we saw the museum that was actually really interesting and you have to be amazed by the size of some ceramic sculptures and the details that the author made. It’s fascinating!
Also this was a great opportunity to meet more students and connect a bit. There are so many students from different countries. =) Mostly we talked with students from Brazil, Germany and Belgium. There is one Brazilian guy Lucas that was already here last semester and he met the other students from our school that were here in Caldas da Rainha. He even travelled with them a bit through the summer. He’s always joking and he’s fun to be around. =)
Then we had a meeting with the major and he’s one funny guy too. =) He had a speech and we tried a liquor from Obidos, that is the city nearby. It was really good! Something made out of cherries. =) Mmm nom nom nom! =)
Later we searched even more for the apartment and we called so many numbers and so many of them were already rented. But we managed to go and see one more apartment that was actually a basement of a house. It was nice and the size was just the right one, it was all equipped, it even had some outdoor space and so on. And it was the cheapest we saw so far. The only problem was that the owners were an old couple that lived upstairs and they didn’t speak English. So Damir went to get one guy from boys residence (I forgot his name) and he helped us with translation. The biggest problem was internet, because the owners didn’t really get what we want, and that we need some more speed, not just the basic line or the slow sticks…
We sat at the boys residence and talked about what to do with the apartment and we couldn’t decide, should we keep on searching (though we already called all the numbers we could get), should we pick the one we just saw or maybe the nice one we saw on Sunday.
Day 7 – Wednesday, 26.9.2012
When Gaja and I woke up all we could think about was that beautiful apartment we saw on Sunday. We were decided that that’s the one for us, even if there is no balcony or garden, it’s still perfect! We told Damir about it and he was ok with it. =)
Then we had a meeting with Sound and Image coordinator at school and we thought she will be able to help us with picking the subjects, but it turned out she knows pretty much only the things about the sound part, not the image part. So we had nothing. Then we just went through the time tables and checked for ourselves what we can do and which professors to visit and to talk to.
Later we met up with the landlady of that apartment and we arranged everything, so it was final and we could move in the next day afternoon! =D Yay, we were so happy! =D Now we felt everything is going the way it should and that everything is going to be ok. =)
Yeah and in the evening I got on a Skype and I wanted to talk to my family but nobody was online. Then I checked the Facebook and the first post I saw was by my brother and that he’s waiting for the surgery because he broke his arm (again)… Come on, when you’re abroad that’s not what kind of news you want to hear… =/ But I guess we’re kind of used to that when it comes to my brother. =)
Day 8 – Thursday, 27.9.2012
In the morning we went to our first class – Studio practice. We talked to the professor and she was nice and she told us more about what we will do at this class. Then we realized it’s more about video and videography, so we were disappointed it’s not photography. We thought maybe we would still visit the class, but we were not so sure anymore. We like video, but this year we want to be focused on photography because that’s our main course and that’s going to be our diploma and final project.
After that we signed out of the girls and boys residence we had some free time so we went to the park again. To sit bellow those tall trees and let the sun shine on you… It’s perfect! =D We could sit there all day. =D
But Damir and I had to go because we went to a trip to Leiria with other exchange students. Gaja didn’t want to go because we were going by bus and she didn’t want to get sick. I think it was the right decision because the driver was driving really fast and at the curves he drove like we’re in a race car or something. Crazy guy… =) But it was fun to hang out with other students again. And at Leiria we were at the main building of IPL where we met all the other exchange students that are attending other programs at Peniche or Leiria. We even met three Croatian guys and it was a bit funny to talk in Slovene/Croatian with them, because now we got used to speak English most of the time. =) But it was great. =) And the students of IPL even had a small concert for us and they played some traditional music and even danced a bit. It was great to see and hear that! =D
We returned at around 6:00 and Damir and I ran back to the residence to pack the bags and meet up with Gaja. Finally we were moving! =D And we did it! We moved! =D So it was our first night at our new apartment. =) The landlady was so nice she even landed us some towels and all the beddings so we don’t have to buy anything at all!
Day 9 – Friday, 28.9.2012
We went to the school today. Damir had some classes, Gaja and I had to meet a professor for photography because we were told he will be able to help us. Obviously we had wrong information about when the class will start, so we were there half of hour too early. But it’s ok, because another girl from Erasmus exchange came too, I think she’s from Latvia. And we talked a bit. Then the professor came and we realized he teaches analog photography, but that’s not what we want. But he was very helpful and he gave us all the information we needed so now we know which classes would be the best for us.
Then Gaja and I were free, we didn’t have any more classes or any other obligations so we decided to go shopping. We needed to buy some groceries and small things for the apartment. We went to the fruit market as well and it’s great because it’s very close to our apartment and you can buy very cheap local fruits and vegetables. I think that’s where we will buy these things from now on. =) And when we are standing there and waiting to tell what we want I hear a man voice behind myself saying something like: »So, you’re buying stuff, huh? « And I think to myself what the hell is that, it scared me a bit! And when I turned around it was the Brazilian guy Lucas. It was really funny, because I really didn’t expect it’s going to be someone we know. =) Although it’s a small town and it’s easy to bump into someone you know.
After that we finally had home cooked lunch, that wasn’t very good because we didn’t buy enough spices, we had no olive oil yet and we’re not used to the gas cooker yet… =) But at least it was cooked in our own kitchen! =D
Later we went around the town for some more shopping. I bought a small Buddha statue that’s actually the holder for those scent sticks. I really like it. =) And we bought some clothes because we don’t have so many with us. I have these awesome new short pants with some rocker pins… I love them! =D Can’t wait to wear them! =D
Oh yeah, and at the end of our street that is a Chinese store that sells pretty much everything, so when you need some small things like rubber bands and pencils you just go there. =D You could even buy clothes and shoes, or even toothpaste if you would want… But I think I’ll pass that… =D