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O blog do Fi

um português em Berlim

O blog do Fi

um português em Berlim

i bambini! [ why I fell in love with Italia #6 ]

Filipe B., 29.07.16

Oh yes, here I am talking about the kids of the Centro Educativo, trying not to burst into tears in the first line.

I had worked with kids before. Not in a professional way, let's say. But for many years I was responsable for helping with the musical and theatrical activities in a cultural/sports association (I was kind of a volunteer, because I was doing it for free, only because I wanted to)

Then, last year, I was going to schools to speak with young people about bullying, etc (this also as volunteer).

And here I am as a volunteer again. Volunteer forever!   But let me tell you something. Even though it would seem like a "oh I did this before" thing, I was taken to another level of life. And you can argue "yeah yeah, but kids are kids no matter where", but I'm going to show why it was so different and special. 

Starting with my first day there. Everything was new. Starting with the language. Then I was helping a kid with his homework and out of nowhere he started reading italiano very slowly... to make me understand it better. And - this was unexpected - he even started explaining some words in ENGLISH! How can you not love this? It was so natural of him. In this very first day I returned home with one certain thing: the next months would be emotionally thrilling. 

And they were. Oh mother, they were!

In the Center we have kids with many different backgrounds, with diverse social habits, religions and with different... problems.

And I cannot write so much about it. But I highlighted some moments to make you understand how these kids treated me really, really in an amazing and lovely way.

A dialog. 
"Filipe, do you want to come with me and my parents on vacation to the beach?"
"Ohhh... thank you, but I can't. I have to be here in the Center everyday."
"Dont worry. I will tell my dad to call the boss and she will let you go with us."

Another dialog:
"Filipe, do you miss your family in Portugal?"
"Yes, I miss them a lot... of course".
"And do you have to go back?"
"Yes. I have to see them."
"And can't we go pick them by train so you can stay here?"

:D :D :D Life is so easy and pratical when you're a kid. This totally gave me shivers. 

This next one is more serious. This was a really difficult kid. And many days I was like taking care of him. This day he had to study History but he was too agitated and didn't wanted to. So I was like "Okkkk... let's play calcino". (table football)

We went... and while we played, I started asking questions about History and what he had to study. And he answered everything. And he KNEW everything. This showed me that there isn't one single kid lost in the world. You just have to search new ways to do things (when you can)... and then... score some goals! Think again: we studied History while playing table football!! :O

And now I have to say this. All the educators of this Center taught me a lot about working with the kids in an educational matter. They were brilliant and let me repeat... brilliant! And I'm not saying this because I have to, but because it was really impressive to see them handle some situations with such calm towards the problems. They know how to do it. BRAVI!

Hmm, talking about problems. Let me say that I was never an easy kid. I was very good at school, but I was always a true rebel. Not easy to handle, I must honestly say. Ask my mom. No no, don't ask her, please! :P

And this enters here. The true is: I saw myself in many kids. I guess it happens to everyone in an Educational Center, but there was a kid that was more like a mirror of me.

He was trouble. But lovely. Deeply he was absolutely kind. But it took me a lot to understand it, because when it's your dark side that shines the most, it's not easy to show your true qualities. In the last weeks I was with him most of the time. And we talked a lot. Even when we was getting mad, I managed to keep us connected. I don't know why, really, don't ask me how. 

Yesterday we had the big party in the Center and in the end, knowing that I'm going Home shortly, he came and hugged me saying this

"You were my favourite here. I will miss you next year."

I don't even have to tell you what happened to me next, but I managed to tell him to be brave and good. 

And now I will finish with the two most difficult goodbyes I had with these kids. They happened today. I will explain why it was so hard. 

Two days a week I was doing homeworks with two special kids. But they were really, really special. Professionaly we call them disabled children, but for me they are extra able kids, 'cause they can reach you in so many different ways. For months I entered they worlds. I found happiness in diversity. I talked their language. Even when the conversation was about some pasta with superpowers. Even when for someone who could listen from outside, it would have no sense. And I loved every single word of it. For someone who likes to write, this was the best experience EVER, believe me. I will never have words to thank enough for this. 

It was also the biggest challenge.

In the begining I was scared, thinking that maybe I couldn't handle it. But then I understood that some things are just born within you. And I was surrounded, I must repeat, by amazing educators that showed me a lot on handling this situations. 

And now I'm crying like crazy. But I'm happy. Really happy because I lived all of this. And I will return Home with my heart full of love and after all I will make my mom proud. See? There isn't one single kid lost in the world.

Grazie a tutti voi! 

Servizio Volontario: a book?

Filipe B., 27.07.16
A pic taken by in Firenze, because... amore!

I have 3 surprises saved for the end of my Servizio Volontario in Italia. 

This one was supposed to be saved until the last day, but I cannot hold it anymore, after so many months of processing this alone.

So... everyone was asking me "You're going to write a book about your experience as a volunteer, right?". Even a publisher asked me if I was interested in writing about my life here and publish a book on that. But I was like "hmm, no, that is too obvious...". So I decided that I would not publish (in a book) a single word about what I've been writing on my personal notebook... and living here as a volunteer.

And in January of this same year an ideia hit me. But really hard. It was a normal day. It was the end of another day in the Centro Educativo where I'm a volunteer. I was in the hall preparing to go home, when I saw the mother of one of the kids entering to pick him. How this gave me a powerful dose of inspiration? It was in her eyes. They spoke to me. All the love. All the tenderness. All the hapiness of seeing her kid in the end of the day... to take him Home. 

It was something completely normal, nothing irregular. But on my way home so many ideas started to pop up on my mind. For days, nights, I couldn't stop imagining a very original story about a kid and his mother.  

How can you not get inspiration in this place? [ Il Centro Educativo ]

And yes, my next book was born on this amazing place, on this amazing experience. Exactly when I was not even searching for it. I can't tell you much. It's fiction, total fiction, nothing based on my life here; it is not based on someone I've met here. But it is really based on so many feelings that I learned to appreciate here. And of course that working with these kids gave me many new ways to express my... inspiration. 

It is something that was born when I was reborn in Italia as a volunteer.

It already has a title. I love it, I really love it! 

And it will be published totally in english. I started writing it in english! Yes, as a first language. And then of course I will do the portuguese adaptation. But I chose english because it will be easier to reach people abroad... and because this language really became part of me in these months.

I had many plans regarding my future books, but I never saw this coming. This changed everything. And this one will be something HUGE, I can assure you.

It's my favourite story already. And it feels like it was given to me, like a gift. 

It is the tale of an autistic boy and his mother. It is the story of the struggle to raise a special kid in a tough world. And many chapters are told within the view of the kid, which is completely amazing, being able to express with my words the very unique world that he has inside. And something will take place in a very special city of Italia.

And that's all for now. I want to tell you everything, for real, but I can't. I just had to say this. 

I came here to change my life.

And oh boy, my life was taken to new levels of magnificent.

I'm writing this and crying of joy because I can't even really thank enough for all the things I've got here.

As I said, I have 3 surprises. So... now... 2 more to go.

FORLÌ! [ why I fell in love with Italia #5 ]

Filipe B., 23.07.16
Texto em português e inglês, para PT vai mais ao fim da página. Obrigado! 

O Duomo (Catedral) e a vista da cidade do alto da torre maior.
Straight to the point. Forlì is the city where I mostenjoyed living. Even with the distance from home, the lack of family andfriends, I cannot lie and say otherwise. I fell in love, from the very first day. And that love has only grown. I’ll explain why.

Yes, amore mio, I was here in my past life.

It is calm but has... everything (the kind of city I like, 'cause I'm not into the chaos of the bigger cities, va bene?).

History! As a big fan of the Assassin's Creed games, I was eagerto get to Forlì and visit sites that are present in the game's levels that takeplace in this city. But even forgetting that fan side, I have to admit thefollowing. Forlì is a city full of history, with several outstanding periods ofItalian history to have a key role here. For example, the struggle of CaterinaSforza, Duchess of the city that practically alone (without the help of otherItalian states) fought against the forces of the Pope and against the army ofVenice, defending the lands of Romagna, managing the military, arms, horses,etc., etc. And never surrendering! Who runs the world?? GIRLS!

In addition... the city has various architectural signs ofthe Fascism period, which was a horrible period and lefts visible marks, butsome of them are positive (such as architecture!). Well ... it is perhaps the only positivething, hmm ...

Forlì was also a scene of fighting in World War II,with German soldiers invading many places here (like the Educational Centerwhere I’m a volunteer, YES! That’s true! Believe me!). And in one of the mainstreets of the city you can still see the marks of grenade explosions on thefacade of a building. Sorry folks, but for a history lover like me, this is a treasure,I repeat, a TREASURE!

I went here alone so many times just to contemplate this wonder.

Trying not to do this text something extremely long,I'll just summarize other points. Forlì is a city that is close to the sea... andcountryside, thus winning an amazing contrast. The city has many green areas,many parks and gardens (maybe this is quite normal in Italia, but I was not usedto having  so MANY areas like this in a"small" city). Then it is connected to all major cities of theEmilia-Romagna region by train and from here you can easily reach cities suchas Venezia, Bologna and Firenze (to name just three of them).

The train sation.
To finish this I’ll talk about something thatsurprised me. I have spoken here on the blog of how awesome is Italy and all the geek culture here, so I will now speak only of other events. In my 10months here I went to the following events (and taking into account thefollowing: I lived as a volunteer, with little money, so I could not go even to half of the events I wanted).
- Comics and Cosplay convention (one in Decemberand one in May)
- Opera - My Fair Lady (Yes, yes and yes! )
- 2 Cinema Festival (one in October and another in March,one about Shorts and another about African Cinema).
- FREE theater plays (done by amateur groups,students, etc., etc.)
- Festival of Cannabis (and reggae music) - Oh yes,sonny, I wen there!
- A FREE photography expo on all volunteering inItaly.
- And in June and July happened so many FREE events inthe streets and squares of Forlì that I’m not even able to say half of them,but I went to the outdoor cinema, I saw circus performers in Piazza, rockbands, pop and jazz singers; tango, country and tarantella dancers, etc, etc.

Me and Deadpool in a cosplay event here. BAM!

And there are so many other things that make this a city full oflife. During these months I heard so many people complaining about this city,but these people are either blind, deaf or did not live in the same place as me(and I’m trying really hard no to attack these people with Deadpool jokes,BELIEVE ME!)

After all… may be it is you that make a place... and not the otherway around, right non?


Madrinha, avó e mãe. As minhas Rainhas em Forlì.

Directo ao ponto. Forlì é a cidade onde mais gostei de viver até hoje. Mesmo com a distância de casa, com a falta da família e dos amigos, não posso mentir e dizer o contrário. Apaixonei-me completamente, desde o primeiro dia. E esse amor só cresceu. Explico porquê. 

É uma cidade calma... mas que tem tudo (o tipo de cidade que eu gosto, porque não sou fã do caos das cidades maiores, va bene?)

História! Como grande fã de Assassin's Creed, eu estava ansioso para chegar a Forlì e visitar os locais que estão presentes nos níveis do jogo que decorrem nesta cidade. Mas mesmo esquecendo esse meu lado fã, tenho que admitir o seguinte. Forlì é uma cidade cheia de História, com vários períodos marcantes da História italiana a terem um papel fundamental aqui. Por exemplo, a luta de Caterina Sforza, duquesa da cidade, que praticamente sozinha (isto é, sem ajuda de outros Estados italianos) combateu contra as forças do Papa e contra o exército de Veneza, defendendo as terras da Romagna, gerindo os militares, armas, cavalos, etc, etc. E nunca se rendeu! Who runs the world?? GIRLS! 

Para além disso a cidade tem vários registos arquitectónicos do período do Fascismo, que foi um período horrível e que deixou marcas bem visíveis, mas algumas delas positivas (como a arquitectura!). Bem... é talvez a única coisa positiva, hmm...
Forlì foi também palco de confrontos na Segunda Guerra Mundial, com os soldados alemães a invadirem muitos locais aqui (até o Centro Educativo onde sou voluntário, SIM! Acredita!). E numa das principais ruas da cidade é ainda possível ver as marcas das explosões de granadas na fachada de um edifício. 

Desculpem lá, mas para um amante de História como eu, isto são tesouros, eu repito, TESOUROS!

Para não fazer deste texto algo extremamente longo, vou só resumir outros pontos. Forlí é uma cidade que está próxima do mar... e do campo, ganhando assim um contraste brutal. A cidade tem muitos espaços verdades, muitos parques e jardins (talvez isto seja muito normal em Itália, mas eu não estava habituado a ter TANTOS espaços assim numa cidade "pequena"). Depois está conectada a todas as principais cidades da região da Emilia-Romagna através do comboio e daqui é possível facilmente chegar a cidades como Venezia, Bologna e Firenze (citando apenas 3 exemplos).

Pormenores artísticos numa rua da cidade.
Para o fim deixo algo que me surpreendeu bastante. Já falei aqui no blog de como é awesome Italia e toda a sua cultura geek, por isso agora vou limitar-me a falar de outros eventos. Nos meus 10 meses aqui fui aos seguintes eventos (e tenham em conta o seguinte: eu vivi como voluntário, com pouco dinheiro, por isso não pude ir nem a metade dos eventos que queria).
- Feira de Comics e Cosplay (uma em Dezembro e outra em Maio)
- Ópera - My Fair Lady (Sim, sim e sim!)
- 2 festivais de Cinema (um em Outubro e outro em Março, um de Curtas e outro do Cinema Africano). 
- Peças de teatro GRÁTIS (de grupos amadores, de estudantes, etc, etc)
- Festival da Cannabis (e reggae music) - Oh yes, filhinho, eu fui!
- Uma mostra de fotografia GRATUITA sobre todo o voluntariado em Itália. 
- E em Junho e Julho aconteceram tantos eventos GRATUITOS pelas ruas e praças de Forlì que nem vou conseguir dizer metade deles, mas fui ao cinema ao ar livre, vi artistas de circo na Piazza, bandas de rock, cantores de jazz e pop; bailarinos de tango, country, tarantella, etc, etc.

E tantas outras coisas que fazem desta uma cidade cheia de vida. Durante estes meses ouvi tantas pessoas queixarem-se desta cidade, mas essa gente ou é cega, surda e muda ou não vivia no mesmo sítio que eu (e eu estou a esforçar-me para não fazer piadas do Deadpool com esta gente, ACREDITA!)

Afinal... talvez sejas tu quem faz um sítio... e não o contrário, né non?

Uma rua.

Servizio Volontario - The will to go back!

Filipe B., 20.07.16
in Trieste. 

I never saw this coming. My adventure in Italia is really full of surprises, even in the psychological/feelings/whatever way.

Two months ago I was literally crying about going back home. I was suffering about having to leave my Project. Then I decided to focus on what I still had to do here, because... carpe diem! 

And... in the last week something changed so much. It's not that I'm not loving my Project, because I am, even more than before!

Like... today we went to visit this amazing place with the kids. How can you not love this?

 But something has come to give me one extra strenght to move forward. This happened after I went one weekend alone to the AMAZING city of Trieste (coincidence?).

And of course I miss Home. I already had this will to go there to be with my family/friends. 

But this is something different. I really feel HAPPY to conclude my amazing journey here in Italia. I feel really EXCITED to pack my bags and go! I never thought this would be possible. FOR REAL! It is closure in its best, I guess!

If I would like to stay longer? Of course! If I will miss my Centro Educativo and those kids? More than any other thing in my life.  If I will return one day? That's for sure!

And one last thing I must say. Being the last one (from my group of volunteers) to go home is the best thing ever. It was hard to say arrivederci to every person that I've shared my life here in the last few months. And it happened in a week, day after day saying ciao ciao!

However... being the last one gives you that sense of liberty and peace, in the way that in your last weeks you no longer have to be saying goodbye to some friend almost every day.

The Servizio Volontario is many things, but now I discovered that it is really really really UNEXPECTED!

I'm living the most beautiful days of my life, when I thought I would be depressed forever in these last days.

La Pasta! [ why I fell in love with italia #4 ]

Filipe B., 17.07.16
Tanto amore!

In Portugal, before, I was eating pizza, lasagna and pasta almost every week (not to say everyday!).  The thing is: la cucina italiana is the most international food. But if you think you're eating pasta in the right way, think again! And now I'm putting my inner italiano and going pazzo about food.

Let me say that I tittled this "La pasta", but in fact I fell in love with all the types of italian food (even the ones I knew before), but pasta is a perfect name for every blog post. Ah, wait, not all types of food here, let me put the bread (pane) out of this. Because it's the only italian thing that has no taste, no salt. And yeah, yeah, I know about the Salt War and its reasons, but we already lived more than 4 centuries after that sh*t happened, COME ON!

Well... lets go. The italian food is in fact really simple. For example, in Portugal whenever I was eating pasta and pizza I was putting lots of ingredients to it. LOTS!

And now I must say two things. One of the best plates of pasta I had was just macaroni and pomodoro e formaggio (tomato and cheese). One of the best pizze I ever had was just a simple margherita with egg

"I gelati sono buoni... ma costano milioni".

Also, I remember in my first days asking for a caffé macchiato (wich I was drinking also in Portugal) but here it's so different. They do it like it's art with such care, with such  a slow pace, really making it unique. I was amazed seeing them prepare a simple thing like caffé and latte. For them this is just so normal, but for me it was so beautiful to see. And I will not start to talk about gelato, because it's the best thing ever, you cannot eat like this in another part (ok... maybe those Santini in Lisboa. MAYBE!).

Pizza al taglio. The best way to eat pizza.

One funny thing, that sometimes can give you nerves, is that every italian is very strict with how you can eat. For example... in some regions it's safer for you if you're not asking for a plate of spaghetti with 4 formaggi. If you want to have a good stay, avoiding to start an endless discussion about food, ti raccomando! But if you want to avoid them calling the caribinieri to put you in jail, if you want to avoid international relations tension, you better not ask for ananas (pineapple) in a pizza. I know, I know, it's awesome. In Portugal we do it a lot. 

But one day I was talking to an italian about this and 5 minutes later I was fearing deportation. 

I'm not joking!

Ok, I am, a little. But believe me, they are very traditional in these things. And in the end I found this amazing, really amazing! I learned a lot. I will never eat pasta the same way. They made me change and I'm very happy for that.

Piadina. Traditional from my region - Emilia-Romagna. It's one of the best things you can eat in Italia.

I think that like this they are keeping the best things unaltered and this is simply wonderful, because in the end it makes the most international food even greater. It's like... you can eat outside of Italia, but never in the same way. 

And did you knew that italians are really skinny (like the 90% of them). I started to notice this after being here for 3 months. Whenever I was travelling I was thinking about this (because in Portugal and Spain it's REALLY different!).  And then I was like "HOW IS IT POSSIBLE?? IF YOU'RE EATING PASTA, PIZZA, PIADINA, EVERY FUCK*N DAY!!"

But yeah, after a while I realized that they eat in a very very very healthy way, with the simplicity of their plates. 

To end this topic about someone eating pizza everyday and staying skinny, I will just say 3 plates of portuguese food and you will know why: Feijoada, Cozido à Portuguesa, Carne de porco à alentejana. [ if you don't know it, google it please ]

As coisas de que tenho mais SAUDADES em Portugal

Filipe B., 16.07.16
Lisboa, Lisboa... [ imagem Wikipédia ]

Obviamente que não vou incluir na lista... a família, amigos,a minha consola Xbox, a minha cadela e o meu gato, porque essas coisas são mais do que óbvias. São as primeiras coisas que me faltam, claro. SIM, a Xbox incluída... e pouco reclamar! Mas vamos descobrir aquilo de que também tenho muitas saudades. Ahhh.... a saudade!

A menos de 1 mês de regressar a Casa, conto-vos aquilo de que sinto mais falta aqui nesta minha distância em Itália.

 1- Como bom português, vou já cair no cliché e começar com a comida. Oh... os pastéis de nata!! Estes são a prova de que, mesmo com a globalização, há preciosidades que permanecem como tesouros nas suas origens. Pelo menos em Itália (que já corri de Norte a Sul) nunca encontrei um único pastel de nata! NEM QUEIJADAS! Mas não é só de doces que me alimento. Resumindo: sinto falta de comer bacalhau assado, no forno, com natas, etc.  E depois o típico frango assado (tão simples e tão bom!). Estranhamente sinto também falta de uma coisa que não é nada portuguesa... mas que associo a Portugal. E isto sou eu a sair do cliché agora de repente. Uma das primeiras cenas que vou fazer ao voltar é ir comer sushi com os amigos. SIM! Aqui em terras italianas, não podes sair e pagar 10€ para comer todo o tipo de sushi que quiseres. Nem sequer é algo que encontras em cada esquina (como em Lisboa). E sim, eu sou estranho. E sim podem começar já o processo de expatriação.

2- Lisboa! Depois de viajar tanto em Itália, depois de estar em Roma, Veneza, Nápoles, será estranho se eu disser que isso me deu ainda mais vontade de voltar a percorrer todos os cantinhos da minha Lisboa? Na minha vida com voluntários de toda a Europa aqui, também falei muito da nossa capital, de como é bela, de como a devem visitar (ou recordei-a com aqueles que já tinham visitado). Posto isto, se me apanho a descer o Chiado com umas notas de fado a ecoar rua abaixo, até penso que é mentira. Afinal eu praticamente cresci nesta cidade. Ela é minha e eu sou dela. 

Eu e Andreia no T, porque sim!

3 - Festas. Esta pode parecer estranho, mas devo dizer-vos uma coisa. Os italianos não sabem como fazer uma festa a sério. Desculpa Itália, eu amo-te de verdade, mas acabar (por exemplo) um Festival de música reggae à meia-noite... é ESTRANHO! Para dizer o mínimo. Eu estava lá, o Dj a tocar, chega a meia-noite: "Finito. Arrivederci. Ciao ciao!". Não se faz! Digamos que em Portugal, à meia-noite eu ainda estou em casa, a preparar-me para sair com os amigos. Não é propriamente a hora de voltar, mas a hora de sair. E aqui, seja em cidades pequenas ou grandes, tudo termina sempre mais cedo (mesmo em bares e discotecas!).  Eu sinto até falta das típicas festas de Verão nas aldeias! E depois... eu e todos os voluntários espanhóis chegámos à conclusão de que os italianos não são propriamente pessoas de dançar, são mais de ficar ali parados a olhar. Onde está o sangue latino minha gente? Não era suposto estarmos todos dentro desse estereótipo? :D Sendo assim, quando eu chegar quero ir para um bar, ouvir uma música POP a tocar e soltar o backup dancer que há em mim. 

Suicide Squad estreia exactamente na mesma semana em que regresso. Bam! 

4 - Cinema! SOCORRO! AJUDA! A sério... em Itália TODOS os filmes são dobrados. Mas como é possível alguém preferir ouvir o Ben Affleck a "falar" italiano a ouvi-lo falar na sua língua original? Novamente: SOCORRO! O problema é que só nas cidades grandes é que encontras uma ou outra sala de cinema que passa (ÀS VEZES!) os filmes na sua língua original. Eu ainda nem vi o Civil War ou o último X-men, exactamente por isso, porque recuso-me a ver uma coisa dobrada. Não dá. Eu tentei, mas simplesmente é ridículo. Claro que tenho ido ao cinema, ver filmes italianos (que amo e muito!), mas sinto falta de ir ver um blockbuster e relaxar com o todo o seu american english original. 

Torres Novas.
5 - Ah Ribatejo! Ou Ribatexas, como costumo chamar-lhe. É a minha região, onde nasci. São as paisagens que me acalmam a alma, que trazem o melhor de mim. E sinto falta da minha linda cidade, sim. Não pensem que sinto falta de cavalos e touradas (POR FAVOR!). Sinto saudade de apenas sair de carro e ter que parar na beira de uma estrada só para ver melhor o pôr do Sol acontecer por detrás da Serra d'Aire. Ai meus meninos, quando os meus olhinhos portugueses voltarem a cair sobre aquela paisagem, vem ao de cima todo o meu Fado e caio por terra, rendido. Afinal isto é: "Destino que nos amarra, por mais que seja negado às cordas de uma guitarra". 

La tranquilitá! (why I fell in love with Italia #3).

Filipe B., 12.07.16
Photo taken by a kid in the Center where I'm a volunteer. 

FIRST: please play this song while you read. It is called "Salvation of Forli" (the city I live in, yes!). Listen. Grazie!

With thistext I'll be heading to some deep introspective master yoda sh*t, but Icouldn't care less.

As cheesyas it may sound, I found a new me doing my volunteer experience.

I have toconfess that first this was scaring me, because I started to feel somethingreally physical, like something new inside my chest whenever I thought about mylife here (like my Center, the kids, etc). I felt this kind of calming emptiness, of no turbulence. 

It soundscrazy. And probably I won't be able to explain it to someone who didn't lived it.

But I haveproofs. So I was feeling this tranquility, this inner peace, so strange to me,and I wasn't sure if this was showing up to other people around me. Of coursethat the people that I've met here (at work, at home) didn't knew me beforethis, so I wasn't expecting of them to notice something.

But then,after coming here to visit me, my mamma did the first comment on how differentI was... for something better.

However,the biggest change came (I felt it) after I wen to Portugal in March. Here I am in the cliché territory again, but it was like I was reborn with the Spring (time of rebirth and inspiration)! My sisterhad an accident at that time and she was really bad, she couldn't move, etc. And I decidedto stay there a bit more to be by her side. Stronger as she is, she recoveredfast and she did the very first step (again) when I was still there taking herhand.

And whileshe was still continuing to learn how to walk again (not only metaphorlyspeaking), she came to Italia to visit Roma and Firenze with me.

How is thisimportant to my experience here?

Let me tellyou something. I'm not religious. I wasn't. I still ain't. But during the lastmonths I came to the conclusion that I was being driven by a Force, somethingstrange that I couldn't explain. What I felt most was that I was beingprotected by... something. 

And in theend, in the last months of my Servizio Volontario, everything started to make sense.

When I tookmy sister to see the Duomo in Firenze I ended up in tears. Of joy, ofaccomplishing something that I truly wanted to do. This thing was booked way before she had the incident, and contrary to what everything was pointing us, there we were!

Then Icontinued on my experience, loving my work as a volunteer, loving theEducational Center, loving the kids, loving my trips around Italia.

LOVE became indeed a strong and powerful word that started to be my company everysingle day.

Then I hadto make a video to the It Gets Better Project, talking about how I sufferedbullying, how I survived it and how I could inspire young people to live through it (this project fights against homophobic bullying). Again... Howdoes it enter in my experience here?

Everything,inside and outside my Project here, became a part of my journey. I learnedthat. So, I did that video. And a friend, who is in Portugal, someone that Ihaven’t seen for more than a year, saw it and immediately commented with me: “Fi…you are so calm, so peaceful, so different”.

So… when Iread this I had the ultimate proof that this is something that is now veryvisible and not only some crazy thing that I imagined. It is so powerfulthat through a video that has nothing to do with my life here (directly) Ishowed everything that changed inside (and out) of me.

I neverfelt this. For real. I don’t want to write too much now, because it’s toodifficult trying not to seem arrogant saying this things. But try to thing about how is possible that in a video talking about suffering I managed to (without really wanting to) show so much inner peace?

But let mejust say that I found myself making peace with some details (and people) from mypast. Alone! In an ordinary day, while I was cooking my meal, I found myself thinkingabout something that had hurt me a long time ago, leaving me with anger, andhere I was thinking of how anger would not lead me anywhere. I came to the conclusion that some emotions can only do you damage (I knew this before, but not in this pratical way of LETTING GO!). So... Time anddistance. And this thing of being a volunteer, of working everyday with kidsthat need your positive energy, your care, your friendship. It’s the answer. Working with people that have bigger problems than you. I think, yes, that is a strong answer to everything! And of course, learning how to live with so much little (money, let's say) also changes your way of viewing everything. 

I told you.This is some deep thing that is not easy to express. But I found myself being able to completely relax in my moments alone, I learned how to love the silence; even when I got lost in Slovenia or when a man tried to pickpocket me in broad daylight here in Italia. There I was... so serene. So strange, let me tell you! But so not worried.

So I willend this text with only two more things.

First, theway Italians work (not only in my Center, because I talked about this withother volunteers, from other cities, etc)… well it is a really relaxed way.Comparing to the stressful work I was doing in Portugal, this is amazing.Really amazing to see, believe me! We used to joke that in our countries theymake you work for 3 persons while in Italia they make 3 persons do the work of1. This way of doing things, of facing problems, was a true inspiring thing that led me to this state of…tranquilità. No doubts! 

Second. Ithappened today. I’m kind of in charge of a really troubled kid right now. Ican’t give so much detail. But he’s not easy. Sometimes he can be violent.Today he was entering in one of that crisis, starting to trouble everyonearound. So I just did my part, not knowing at all what I was supposed to do,but I searched in my heart. Because yes!   And so I told him “Look… in less than 1 month, I’mgoing to Portugal, and seeing you like this isn’t a memory that I want to takewith me”.

He startedcrying. He started talking. Truthfully talking about what he didn’t like about beingthere, etc, etc. The point is: I have no formation to be a professional in thesethings. I have only the experience. I tried. It worked.  In the end I know that he will continue to beproblematic, that tomorrow we will have more work to do. But today it made myday. It made him, at least, being able to express himself.

We continuedtalking, really peaceful, relaxed, so close to each other (in terms ofspeaking), that one of the other kids came to me and out of nowhere asked:

“Is he yourbrother?” (I guess that our 'friendship' was showing)

And I justsaid “Nooooo, lucky me!”. And we laughedtogether. And I did it, I made him laugh. 

For a second he was smilling kindly.
 And this is one of the memories that I will want to remember after I go home. Through all my life, in moments of sadness (because they happen), I will have this piece of heartful memory to keep me moving forward.

After all of this, I can only feel peace, serenity and harmony deep inside. And this is the simple answer to so many questions. 

The Jedi Code.

Why I fell in love with Italia #2: La diversitá!

Filipe B., 11.07.16
A part of Italia. 

         It’s kind of ironic that one of my favoritethings in Italia is something that most of Italians despise (you don't have an idea of the things I've heard in people fighting over regioni).
         I’m talking about… la diversitá!The diversity… in terms of culture and habits.
       In fact the difference betweennorth, center and south (let’s divide it this way) is so big that in the firstmoments you can just find it strange, but you’ll need to travel more throughthe country to see how profound it really is.
        I’m not saying this becausesomeone told me, but because I saw it with my own eyes. I lived it. I know, Iknow. Even in Portugal we have differences from north to south. I guess we haveit in every country. But Italia is a really big country (even bigger when compared to Portugal). So it is not so strange to find such diverse ways ofthinking and acting. For example, people from south regions tend to be moreopen and friendly immediately. They just talk to you as if you were friends fora long time. This doesn’t mean that people from north regions are not nice.Because they are! But in the first impact they are more quiet and reserved. It’slike they’re acting with guidelines from a “How to be polite” book, whensoutherners are more like explosive and not caring so much about it. It’sobvious that I’m dealing with some general ideas here… and not every peopleacts the same way! From different perspectives, both can be lovely. Depends onyou too. What I can say is that in every region I’ve been, in every situationthat I needed help, every italiano that I’ve asked something... decided to help mein his own way. So – this one is for you italians – you are a really, reallynice people. I have to take a bow! Especially to that old lady that helped me here in Forlì in my first weeks when my bike basket fell down with all my supermarket shopping. She automatically came to help me. <3 Sorry but I had to say this. Grazie, grazie, grazie!
Trieste (left) and Napoli (right). Can you spot the differences?

Let's continue! The way they eat, thelanguage, the way they express themselves, the geography, the architecture, colors,tastes. It’s all so different, really, that I could write an entire book onthat. It’s like: you can take all the diversity in Portugal and multiply it per50x.
                Historical this can be explainedeasily. Portugal is a country with more or less 9 centuries of union (asPortugal itself, let’s say), while Italia is really young in comparison. Only 150years (approximately) since the country became the united Italia. Not so longago, they were still fighting each other over power (in a Game of Thronesstyle...), divided within the republics (or city-state) of Firenze, Venezia, Milano,etc… and also in a war with the Pope (yes, I read that Machiavelli book, ok?).Sooo… they still have a long way to travel if they want to reach our point of…unity. But… should they change?

                I think not. Apart from somepolitical parties that want to win independency over regions (!), I find thisawesome! This is a cultural treasure. From art to architecture, from a way ofdoing pizza to a musical style, it’s amazing to travel to cities like Trieste (north)and Napoli (south) and find them so diverse from each other. In a way that itmakes you keep thinking on how can you love so much, at the same time, suchdifferent realities. 

A foto of Forlì, just because I love my city! 

Lost in Slovenia

Filipe B., 10.07.16
At least I got to see this breathtaking view!

So... Iwas in Trieste (Italia), which is really close to Slovenia. Let me justsay this: first I was the Chosen One to a volunteering project in Slovenia… but Iwent dark side and refused it, because I really wanted to go to Italia. Butbeing there so close to this country led me to think that I could escapequickly and do it a visit. So I searched for a bus. 45 min to arrive at Koper(a beach town). 6,60€ andata e ritorno (roundtrip). And I was like “Wow, soeasy! I’m totally going”. I just had to seat my sweet portuguese ass and wait tostep out in Koper. This trip alone, at least, was being completely normal.

But Sleeping Beauty here decided to take a nap in the bus… and being so tired... wokeup three stops later… in Lucija.

I went to talk to the driver and kindly asked if the same bus was goingback. Now imagine. I don’t know a single word in sloveno. He didn’t spoke English…and only knew a really bad italiano, so our conversation was kind of not aconversation and he rudely told me that I had to take a taxi if I wanted to goback.  And I just did my “Do I look rich?”face and stayed there in Lucija... before finishing my trip in Croatia. The thing is… I wasn’t even worried. Because Isaw a map near the stop. But of course… I also saw the sea and decided to totally ignore themap to go put my feet in the freshwater, to do some photos and to take a caffé. Why not? I needed energy. Don’t ask me why but I was completely relaxed, even when I was looking to anHotel outdoor and saying out loud to myself: “Maybe I will have to sleep in the beach tonight,cause I don’t have money to pay for this”. The good part? I go to see 3 different places... paying just for one. Bang bang!

Yes! I woke up like this. [ Lucija ]

But then I had a good idea (sometimes this happens). Maybe this small town had some connection toKoper and so I decided to look back for the map. I saw where the bus stationwas and started walking under the hot hot hot sun. I walked and walked andfinally reached the station. The next bus to Koper was indeed parting… NOW!
Of course no one there knew how to speak english or italiano. But Imanaged to speak and ask the driver for directions. Body gestural language isthe best, believe me!

Headingto Koper, passing by the amaziiiiing town of Izola, I started to think how calm I was… how one year ago (lets say) I wouldbe panicking so much with this. But there I was, laughing alone, writing theadventures on my diary, certain that my Voluntary Service experience taught mea lot about not being afraid. And about being crazy too! 


And Iarrived to Koper. The next thing would be to search for a bus to go Trieste,but not without walking first around the town. Not without buying a postcardfirst. Not without going to the sea again to refresh myself.
But Iknew that I had to go back to Italia, so in the end I asked a lady to give me directions tothe bus station (because the other bus letft me in the beach). Again the gestural languagewas our idiom. And yeah, I got lost searching for the station, but after awhile I got there… to find the tickets office closed. How the f*ck was Isupposed to buy my ticket ? No ticketmachines. Niente! The desert. 

There was a ladyworking there, but she was working for the trains, not bus. And she couldn’tsell me a ticket. At least this one was speaking fluent italiano and told me totry to buy the ticket online using my phone. The station had wi-fi. But a reallybad wi-fi and so I wasn’t able to anything and after 1 hour of trying I quitand decided to go out waiting for the bus under the red sun.

Maybe I will have to sleep on the floor, but first le me take a seflie [Koper - Slovenia ].
A taxi driver saw methere and started to talk to me in sloveno (HELP!). I said that I was italiano di Trieste(I never taught of me as portuguese in this moments!! It's really scary,believe me!!). And then, trying to speak italiano, he started to scream and shout that for 30€ we wouldtake me there. I refused. I think this one at least was legal, but I’m not 100%sure. And yeah… after a while I started considering that as an option toreturn, even if I would have to sell a kidney for that. 

The bus arrived. Thisdriver was also rude, refusing to sell me the ticket. This one was italiano (Madonna!!!). And I kindly said that like that I would have to sleep on the floor that night... and he just gave me af*ckin ticket. Really?!

Going back to Italia Iwas so happy seeing the views from the top of the mountains that we climbed to crossthe border. The sea so vast and calm. Like me. Me, the luckiest bastard alive.

Why I fell in love with Italia #1: LA LINGUA

Filipe B., 07.07.16

It’s the FinalCountdown serving as a volunteer for Europe. It’s my last month in questomaledetto paese that made me fall in love since the very beginning. So I’ll startnew posts trying to explain why I have this grande amore for Italia. Starting with… Lalingua! [ Italian and english sound so great mixed ]

First letme say this. As a portuguese I always thought that learning and understandingitaliano would be much easier. And... it was not so difficult (let's saycomparing to someone who comes from Russia for example). In the end italianoit's so similar to portuguese in terms of writing but at the same timesooooooo different in the way it sounds. 

Italiano isin fact one of the most beautiful languages in the world… if not the mostbeautiful of all! I realized that during my life here.

When Italianstalk, they don’t speak, they sing. For real! We portuguese speak with closedsounds, but they really use all of the mouth… really open! Like… amazing! Atthe beginning it’s strange for you, but then you start to see how theyarticulate every sound, doing some pauses in the same word just to highlight aletter. For example when they say “Morena” (with only one N) they say it quick,but when they say “Ravenna” (with two N) they say it slower… almost with amusical pace. I think they don’t even think about these things. But imagine mediscovering a new language and paying attention to every little detail.

Mariano Di Vaio... because... he speaks italiano. :P

Anotherthing. Everyone knows that the ragazzi italiani have a great fame abroad. But letme say this. Obviously they don’t look all like Mariano Di Vaio, so how do theymanage to have this notorious fame? It’s in the way they speak, for sure. Howcan you end a relationship with a ragazzo that calls you amore mio with allthat swing? How can you not fall in love when a ragazzo comes and calls youbella (or bello!) with such passionate sounds involving such simple words?

I’m notjoking. One day, after a first kind of a date, a ragazzo said this to me “Sei moltocarino!” (like: You are really cute) and he’s voice was so powerful and musical that I thoughthe wanted to marry me. I got so scared that we never talked again. Oh yeah… soit’s possible to resist it. I’m the proof. I'm always the proof when things go the wrong way.

Anyway… I’mtalking about the “general” italiano, because they have so many variations, somany dialects, that it would be impossible to cover all of them (Thank you Dante!!). Believe me.They have a dialect for every region, every city, every neighborhood. I’mpretty sure that only in my street there are 2 or 3 different versions of italiano. Starting with my Italiano - the Portuguese remix feat. Giusy Ferreri.

To endthis.

Italians soundlovely even when they are angry. Arrabbiati!

When they're sad they sound even more touching. Tristezza!

They soundlovely in every sound. That’s it. E basta! 

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