Girl Power!

Image

This week was all about girl power. Funja had the crazy idea of doing a girls night in the dorms this week, she called it “Pussies’ night”. We all get together in the AIESEC office (that we use as living room) and, in our pajamas, watched “Magic Mike” (let us just say that there were a lot of hot-almost-naked-guys-doing-sexy-dances in the screen). I also went shopping with Iga, Funja and Haley this week, girly style: a lot of comments about how clothes’ numbers are getting smaller, and that is why we don’t fit in a 36 anymore and how we don’t need more high heels and we end up buying a new pair… And we also had an only-girls barbecue in Teodora’s house which was very nice because most of the times guys take care of the meat and the fire and everything.
Talking about girls’ power, another very girly subject is makeup! As you know, I lived this past 7 weeks with 5 girls in my room: Me (Portugal), Fedora (Indonesia), Funja (Turkey), Haley (USA) and Iga (Poland). It is very funny to observe the different ways of living, the different routines we all have. For instance, I never wear make up during the day, only to go out at night, but Funja needs at least half an hour to do her make up. And she takes it very seriously! Funja danced ballroom dances, so she was used to the stage make up and she can’t live without it now. Fedora also likes to take her time with bodylotion and one thing that is very curious is that her foundation (the makeup that girls use in their faces to make the skin more uniform) makes her skin look whiter! In Portugal everyone wants to look more tanned, but in Indonesia they want to look whiter! Most of the girls, no matter which country, have a straighter to their hair and they take a lot of time everyday straight it so “they would look nice”. What about pretty curly hairs?
I hope one day I will have the chance to talk more about how women are seen in different countries, but this is all for today!

Saudade

Image

“Saudade” is a Portuguese word that has no translation to any other language. I will try to explain: Saudade is the feeling of missing someone or something. It is a deep feeling of emptiness towards what we are used to have near our heart.
I’m away from home for six weeks now and sometimes I try to understand what I really miss from Portugal. Of what/who do I have “saudade”. My mother gets upset when I say that what I miss the most is my dog. To be honest , although I live with my parents, I have a independent life in Portugal, so I talk with them maybe one hour at night, and don’t even do it every day. Here, I can also talk with them every day; we can share our day and laugh about it. Actually I noticed that my parents only tell me the “good news” and they try to not show if they are upset with something, so I can say that our relation is getting better when I’m away! Sure it is not so truthful, but fights are avoided at all cost. But I cannot pet my dog by skype! I don’t have a fluffy thing jumping on me every time I get to my dorm…
What else do I miss? I miss the water. I live in Lisbon so I can see the Tagus river every day, and I can easily see the blue ocean if I want to. In here the sea is 11 to 13 hours apart by train. There is a small river in the city, but is not the same.
I miss doing the crosswords in “Publico” with a friend, I miss taking my coffee in “Esplanada”, I miss talking in Portuguese, I miss watching the news every morning…. Being here and missing these silly things only shows me that the most important things in our live are only special and noticeable when we are apart from them.
This experience and the people that I met here are always going be in my heart but not always in my mind. They have changed me and I’m sure I will never be the same, but in a few years they will be a shadow in my life, a good dream. I will be missing them even without noticing it, because they will always part of who I became. I’m happy that I will never see them again, like this they will be even more valuable. Priceless. Thanks to Saudade.

Places of Contrasts

Image

One of the things I love the most about travelling is getting to know people that can answer my questions about other countries first hand. I spent my weekend in Bucharest and I stayed in a nice Hostel where they do a barbecue, and all the hosts are invited to eat and spend some time meeting the other people in the hostel as well. During the night I spent there with Marina, we got to meet a German and a French group of young people travelling. I liked to talk with a German guy (I didn’t even ask his name, shame on me) because he showed me a picture of Germany very different from the one I had.

I asked him if German people like Angela Merkel, and he told me: “I’m really sad to tell you that we are going to have elections next month and she will win.” Why? “Well, the candidate of the opposition was no strong character, no one likes him.” Up to this point there is no news, it was just to inform the readers of this blog that the Merkel Reign will continue. But then we start talking about what was still noticeable from the Second World War and the Cold War in the Nowadays-Germany. Unfortunately, the wars leave deep scars in a country and they still have a lot of people that defend Nazi ideals. Not so directly, but there are demonstrations every week in different cities of Germany where the goal is to stop the immigration, to don’t let immigrants have a job, to go back to Deutschmark … Most of them are Racist Demonstrations and they are very hard to stop because of the Freedom of Speech. So, the only way to stop them is to make an Anti-demonstration Demonstration next to them (groups of people screaming the opposite that they are screaming), so they will give up eventually. He told me that there are still a big difference between the east and the west part of Germany and it is hard to change people’s mentality about the “other part” even though they are now just one country.

Besides this very informative talk, I really liked my trip to Bucharest. It is a city of contrasts.  The city is very old and most of the buildings are from the Soviet Era, but then, in the city center, there were also streets with big malls, big advertising campaigns, French architecture style, a huge avenue that is even bigger (4 meters bigger)that the Champs Elysees in Paris. The whole city was restored by the Soviet Dictator, Nicolae Ceausescu: he wanted the biggest avenue, the biggest Palace/House of People (that has a huge bunker above), he didn’t want the churches to be visible, so he destroyed most of them and the ones that survived were moved to the middle of neighborhoods so they would not be visible from the main roads…  The city is a mix of Soviet Ideals and Capitalism taking is place. It couldn’t be more confusing! But the parks are nice, those are safe for now…

Two weeks to go in this crazy, but lovely, country!

The everybody syndrome

romenia11

Living with almost 60 people is not easy, especially in a society with the “everybody syndrome”. What is that?

When I arrived, we all wanted to get to know each other. In the first week, AIESEC organized a lot of activities for all the interns, so it was normal for us to be all together, all the time. But I can’t understand why, after five weeks of living together, in the same corridor, in the same rooms, working together, having meals together, everybody still needs to be with everybody.

I have noticed that if I’m in the living room alone, or if we are just a few, everyone that comes in asks “Where is everybody?”. I’m not exaggerating… this is the question I answered more than five time in just one hour. Then, they usually ask: “Why are you alone? Is everything ok?”. As if being alone is a symptom of a disease! If I would be alone in my room or in any other private place it would be ok, because I would not be exposing my “loneliness” to others. But being alone in a public space, just because no one wants to be there as well, it is a matter of concern!

Then, another symptom of the “everybody syndrome” is the “waiting of everybody”. Whenever we go out with a plan, and the plan is completed, instead of creating small groups and disperse, we stay in the same place for one hour waiting to see what “everyone is going to do next”. People are just afraid of not waiting enough and end up losing the “everybody plan” that can turn up being amazing. We all end up going home in small groups or going to have beer also in small groups, but the “waiting to see what is everybody going to do” part is very important! Result: Everybody is waiting to see what everybody is going to do.

It is very common to see my roommates going out of the room just to see “what is everybody doing”, just in case they are missing something amazing. I can understand that it is important to be sociable, but is also important to be alone or to be the “everybody” now and then. If I want to have dinner in a place, I will be the “everybody” going there, me and whoever wants to join me. Sometimes that is what makes you a leader, the “everybody” that “everybody” follows.

 

Father, can I marry her?

yahya

Today I will not write about my last days. Today I will write about cultural differences.

I really like to talk with two guys from Pakistan. Before I met them, the only knowledge I had about their culture was what I watched in the movie “Gandhi”. I saw them as intolerant people that had created their own country because they didn’t want to get along with Hindus. Now I know that “Gandhi” is the vision on India about their conflict, so not all of it is impartial. I was taught to not like Muslims. I was taught to think that they don’t respect women and that they like to be considered superiors. But since I’m here I can see that the Muslim culture differs a lot from country to country and now I can understand some actions that I earlier disapproved.

My first shock was the idea of “arranged marriage”. To understand it I had to understand the value of family in Pakistan. I always thought: “If I’m happy, my parents will be happy for me”. They think: “If my parents are happy, I will be happy for them”. This changes all. They respect their relatives very much, that is why they put their love future in their hands. They truly believe that their parents will make the better choice for them. Of course nowadays they can have their opinion and most of the times their parents “choose” the girl they ask them to choose because their respect is mutual. But another funny cultural difference is that they have to hide their relationships until the time to choose their wife comes. One of the guys from Pakistan is “dating” the same girl for almost 5 years and he is not sure if his parents will choose her when the time comes. He will only tell his parents about her in the right time, and he is ready to accept if they don’t think that she is the best option to be his wife. How can he accept it? How can he accept to lose the love of his life? I think he is pretty sure his parents will take his choice into consideration and will choose her, but it is just wish full thinking…

They also have the most interesting rituals. Yesterday I went with them to a special restaurant so they could eat meat. They only eat meat that is made in a special way, with prayers and they have to cut it in a different way so the blood will all come out. During the meal, one of them told me about a ritual they have every year, in which they kill lambs and give half of it to their families and the other half to the poor. It is a way of proving their devotion to god. So I asked him if he could picture his life without god, and the answered: “Can you picture your life without maps? Without light? How would you know what to do? Where to go?”  I told him that I know what I want because of my will. “Who gave you that will?” End of conversation…

I have been wondering: Who commands my dreams? Maybe it is better to have a god than only wish to be like the superstars in Hollywood movies or to aspire to be as pretty as the Disney princesses. Sure I still can’t understand how some people follow their god blindly, how some girls from Egypt try to convince me that asking questions is a bad thing because it will destroy my faith, sure I still can’t understand how people rule their lives by books that were written thousands of years ago….  But now I can understand that Muslim people do their fasting because they want to feel what poor people feel every day, because they want to train their patience…  Now I can understand that most of their choices are based on good values such as Family, as Honor and Altruism.

I still have a lot to learn, a lot to question. I really hope I can understand more and judge less. I will stay loyal to my convictions, but I will also feel passion and respect for other people`s choices.

Rock night and Ducky days

nice3

I have been too busy living to write about what I was living. These last days were amazing!

After writing my last post, I went out with a small group: 2 Greek guys (Dimitris and George), Marina from Spain, Layla from Egypt and Haley from the USA. First we went to a Reggae Pub, a fun experience, and then to a thematic small disco. The theme of that night was Rock and I was really afraid of being killed by somebody’s head, because there were people shaking their hair like it was on fire.Thursday was a more quite day and I decided to work a bit, even though it was a holiday. But on Friday everything happened! The day started with a Brunch, never had I had a brunch in my life. Of course I was with Enya, from the UK, Haley and Marina. Then we decided to rent a small pedal boat to cycle down the river.  In the middle of our trip, some guys, also in a pedal boat, started to crash their boat into ours. It was a very creepy moment! Besides that problem, the trip was very nice. In the evening the football team I’m working for played at home for the first time this season, so we all went to see the game and support ASU Poli Timisoara! Our team won the match and the supporters were very enthusiastic! To end the perfect day in a more emotional way, Marina and I decided to watch “Les Miserables” together. We cried so much! And because we were in the AIESEC office, which we use as living room, everybody started laughing at us and there are even pictures! I hope they won’t end up on-line because they were really ridiculous!

Yesterday I went to a small party in the country side, near Timisoara. The party was organized by the Plai Festival team and I loved the place. The Plai Festival is a Music/Cultural Festival in Timisoara. They have singers from all over the world, and Marisa (a Portuguese singer of Fado) sang here last year! I’m just sad that it is in September, when I’m already gone…

Today I’m organizing my trip next weekend to Bucharest with Marina. It is going to be so nice!

Food? Food, food, FOOD!!

2013-08-12 22

These past three days were food-orientated. I will explain, on Monday I went to a Mexican Restaurant for the first time and on Tuesday it was AIESEC International Cooking Night!

To be honest I’m making these two events sound much better than they actually were… The Mexican food was not that good, and I hope that it was just a bad restaurant (although very expensive) because I really thought I would like Mexican food. The meal started with a free shot of tequila, which sounds exciting but I had nothing in my stomach so I decided to just drink half of it. I didn’t want to start my Mexican meal throwing up! Then I ordered tacos. What is more Mexican than tacos? But what I thought would be a meal with a lot of flavor didn’t taste like anything special… Well, I hope my next experience in a Mexican restaurant will be better!

The AIESEC International Cooking Night was yesterday and in this event every country should have prepared some traditional food. But I had a meeting with the entity I’m working for so I just helped my Spanish friend, Marina, cook tortillas, gazpacho and sangria. It was a fun experience because we didn’t have the right kitchen tools to mix the vegetables in the gazpacho, so we had to be very inventive and at the end of it the kitchen was a bathtub of tomato! Of course we cleaned it but the guys that were cooking at the same time had a good laugh at us.

My work for the football team has been interesting but actually we can’t do much now because our target is the students and they are not here. So I decided to help the rugby team that is preparing an event! I hope I can help both teams and learn a lot from this experience. It is hard to do marketing in a foreign country because we don’t know anyone, we don’t have media contacts, we don’t know the protocols to do partnerships, and we have to translate all the materials… I never thought it would be so hard. Something that in Lisbon would take me one week and I would do it just fine, here it takes me two or three weeks and it is not as good.

Tomorrow is a national holiday so I think I will take the day off and walk around the city!