Birmingham – 23rd to 27th January 2016

Travel:

Journey to Birmingham: I took a plane from Oporto to London and then we got two different trains to Birmingham. It was a really tiring trip.

Journey from Birmingham: The trip was the same as the one to Birmingham but with the opposite direction even more stressful and exhausting.

First impressions: England is a multiracial country where everyone is extremely nice.

Landscape and climate: It was really cold but it was mostly sunny; the landscape is essentially composed by plains and some woodlands.

Houses (similarities/differences): The houses are really smaller than in Portugal and I could see lots of streets where all the houses were identical.

What did you do on Saturday? The plain left Oporto at 10am and, when we got to London, we quickly went to a train station where we caught a train to London Euston and then, after changing to another train and having a two hours trip, we finally got to Birmingham. The host families were already waiting for us at the station so I went home and, after dining, I went to bed because I was really tired.

 Best part of the day: Meeting the host family.JB

Worst part of the day: The long and stressful trip

Food and drink: Lasagne, garlic bread, past with tuna fish and a salad. To drink, I had Dr. Pepper.

What did you do on Sunday? I woke up and had breakfast and I went with my host, Callum, to the centre of the city where I met with some of his friends that were also hosting foreign students. We walked through the city and visited the Canals which are one of the most well-known things in Birmingham. In the evening, we came back home and, after having dinner, I went to bed.

Best part of the day: Visiting the Canals and playing FIFA 16.

Worst part of the day: Happily, it was a flawless day!JB_2

Food and drink: For breakfast I ate a typical English Breakfast with orange juice, at lunch I went to Nando’s where I ate a burger and a juice and, for dinner, I had roast beef and Yorkshire pudding with apple juice.

What did you do on Monday? On Monday, I had to wake up early to go to school. Me and my host, Callum, got the bus to school and a while after arriving there, an older student did me and the other Portuguese people a tour. Then, I met a boy from Year 10 with whom I spent the rest of the morning /afternoon with and whose classes I attended. After leaving school, all the students involved in the project went bowling and we played Laser Quest, which I won! In the evening, I went home and all the family sat around the TV watching a film.

Best part of the day: Meeting lots of new people.

Worst part of the day: Having to watch a swimming lesson take place for an hour while being alone and doing nothing else.

Food and drink: Waffles and apple juice for breakfast; I had the European Meal in the school’s library and, for dinner, we ate snacks while watching a film.

What did you do on Tuesday? On Tuesday, I went to school by bus again and, when I got there, I did some crafts with the other Portuguese student in an Art Lesson. After the class, all the foreign students went to Stratford-upon-Avon with some of the older students; we spent the day there and we had the opportunity to buy some souvenirs. We came back to Birmingham in the afternoon and when school ended I went with my host and some of the other students to a shopping mall where I had dinner at Pizza Hut. I went home and played on the Wii with Callum. At 9pm, all the family took me to the train station and, after a long time saying goodbye to them and thanking them for the amazing days, me and the other Portuguese people took a train to London Euston and from there, we took one to London Gatwick. Then, a taxi took us to a guesthouse, where we spent that night.

Best part of the day: Having the opportunity to wander freely through Stratford–upon-Avon.

Worst part of the day: Having to say goodbye to the host family which I really loved and the tiring trip to London.

Food and drink: Waffles and apple juice for breakfast; for lunch, I had a sandwich and a lemonade at Stratford and for dinner, I ate pizza.

What did you do on Wednesday? I woke up early, had breakfast at the guesthouse, and then we all went to the airport where I bought some more souvenirs. We got the plane at 1pm from London to Oporto and when we arrived, we caught a bus to Macedo de Cavaleiros.

Best part of the day: Getting to bed after such a long day of travelling.

Worst part of the day: The bus trip from Oporto to Macedo de Cavaleiros.

Food and drink: For breakfast, orange juice, a toast and an egg and for lunch, a sandwich.

Daily Routine:

School day (similarities/differences): The classes are shorter and they spend less time at school. They have to wear uniforms and have a really big school. On the other hand, they also have buses to take them to school, and similar classes.

Best part of your trip: Meeting lots of new people and creating a second family in Birmingham.

Worst part of your trip: The boring and tiring trips.

Your final impressions: I loved this experience and I can’t wait to go back to Birmingham to be with my host again.JB_3

Jorge Silveira (Portugal)

LIFE in Birmingham

Rita_3Travel: Journey to Birmingham: I travelled by plane. It was my first time traveling by plane, so obviously I was a little bit scared. However, Jorge (who is the boy that also went to England with me) calmed me down and, in general, it was a pretty good flight.

Journey from Birmingham: I travelled once again by plane but this time I was feeling more relaxed and it seemed that the journey didn’t take that long.

First impressions: We arrived in Gatwick, London at 12:30 and the amount of people we saw right there in the airport was impressive. As we left the airport and even though we didn’t see much of London, it felt just like we see in the movies: amazing (but really cold, though)!

Landscape and climate: It has an urban landscape with a lot of similar houses, restaurants and buses just going around the city. The weather in Birmingham is awful, I must admit. It was windy, cloudy and rainy all the time.

Houses (similarities/differences): The houses are totally different from the ones I’m used to here in Portugal. They are all really similar and inside they are a little bit small compared to the ones in my country.

What did you do on Saturday? On Saturday we got to the airport at 8:00 am, as we were already in Porto. Our flight was at 10:00 am and we arrived in London at 12:30 a.m. After we landed, we had to get on the train to Euston Station and once we arrived there, we had to go on another train to Birmingham International. It was about 5:30 pm when we finally arrived in Birmingham. My host picked me up and we went home. That evening, I met her family, which I really liked from the beginning because they are Portuguese as well, and then we went to a restaurant where we bought Fish and Chips, the traditional England food. Later that night, we watched a movie and then I went straight to bed.

Best part of your day: Arriving in London and getting to know Joana and her family.

Worst part of your day: All the trips we had to make by train made me really tired.

Food and drink: I ate a tuna sandwich and drank a fruit juice in Euston and for dinner I had Fish and Chips and drank some juice as well.

 What did you do on Sunday? On Sunday, we woke up quite early. We dressed ourselves and got ready to explore the city and do some shopping. Joana took me to the most interesting places in Birmingham and I really liked it. It’s a very big city with a lot of people from all around the world, which I thought it was great because I got to meet different cultures and people.

After that, we went home and had lunch. Then we decided to stay home that afternoon and in the evening I went grocery shopping with Joana and we had dinner.

At night, I helped Joana with her homework and went to bed quite early, since I was feeling tired.

Best part of your day: Getting to know the city and having some bonding time with my host.

Worst part of your day: There was no such thing!

Food and drink: At lunch we had egg on toast and for dinner we had an amazing salmon and potatoes!

What did you do on Monday? In the morning we had classes and I finally met all the participants in the project and got reunited with Jorge. Then the programme students had a conversation with the teachers and a student showed us the school facilities, which are nothing alike to the ones in my school. We also attended to some classes and at 12:30 we had the European lunch in the library, which consisted of traditional food of the countries involved in the programme.

After one more class, I went to meet my host and we all went bowling, which was an amazing experience, since I got to know my partners a lot better.

After that, me, my host, a polish girl and her host went to a pizza place and we went home afterwards.

Best part of your day: The day in general.

Worst part of your day: None!

Food and drink: For lunch we had the European lunch, in which we tasted a little bit from every country. For dinner, we had the most delicious pizza I’ve ever had in my life!

 What did you do on Tuesday? On Tuesday we went to school. Then a bus was waiting for us to take to Stratford. There we could do some shopping and buy souvenirs for our families. We had lunch and then we went to school again. I said goodbye to all of them, which was hard and went home with my host. I started packing my bags because I was leaving to London later that night, and I had the last dinner with the family.

At 9:00 pm I said goodbye to my host and her family and went to the station, where our teachers were already waiting for us to get on a train to London. By the time we arrived there, it was almost 2:30 am.

Best part of your day: Going to Stratford.

Rita_2

Worst part of your day: Saying goodbye to my partners, my host and her family.

Food and drink: For lunch I had sandwich, chips and a juice. For dinner, Joana’s mother made us an awesome fish pie.

 Daily routine:

School day (similarities/differences)? Their school day is very different from ours! Firstly, their classes are in general more interactive and don’t last as long as ours. Then, they all have to wear the school uniform. Their subjects aren’t the same as well.

Best part of your trip: The European lunch, bowling and pizza!

 Worst part of your trip: The exhausting train journeys between Birmingham and London.

Your final impressions: It was a lifetime experience that I will certainly never forget. Getting to know my partners and exchange opinions and ideas about different subjects was amazing, as well as dealing with their cultures and habits. My host and her family were the sweetest and spending time with them was absolutely priceless. Lastly, knowing such a different city that concentrates so many different people made me grow as a respectful individual.Rita

Rita Bebiano (Portugal)

LIFE Experiences

            My name is Tiago Barreira. After almost two hours thinking about what to write, I finally started with only one goal, to let you know how it is to be part of something so special as the Erasmus+ program!

I could write a lot about this program, flattering it and its organization, but what really matters are the experiences you get to live through it. For example, I, a simple Portuguese student, with the help of such a program managed to go to Belgium and spend a week there, and then, a year later I was hosting an exchange student in my own home. Actually I am here to tell you about that very same experience!

Receiving an exchange student is not easy. Don’t fool yourselves! It requires a lot of understanding and patience at first. And when I say a lot, it’s a lot! After all you are receiving in your own house, to be with you and your family for an entire week, a complete stranger that doesn´t even speak the same language as you. For you it can be easy, using English as a bridge, but what about your parents and the other people who can’t speak English? That can be a problem, don´t you think? Another difficult part is the initial communication, you have to be ready to be you giving all the first steps. I mean, think about it, he is the one who is far away from home, he is the one surrounded by strangers.

However, with great effort and cooperation, you will get past that part and that´s when one friendship is born. And believe me, it´s not any friendship! As I was saying, getting to that part may be difficult but once you get there, there´s no stopping you guys. You will start having lots of fun together, you will start talking for hours closed in your room, you will start having another sibling! And that’s exactly what happened to me!

So, being a part of something as special as an exchanging program changes your life forever, it makes you grow as a person, it makes you see that there´s more to life than the little world you live in, than the little world you know. Of course that another difficult part is when it gets to an end and you have to say goodbye. You will be far from each other but tell me, aren’t there a lot of means nowadays to overcome that?

LIFE in Macedo de Cavaleiros

I never thought having a person from another country in my house would be such an amazing experience.

Kinga Trochanowicz is the Poland girl I hosted. She is sixteen years old and I loved meeting her.

On the first day, Saturday in the afternoon, I picked up Kinga at the bus station and then we went home, I showed her my house and we had dinner. Then me and the rest of the people that were hosting somebody decided to meet and showed them the town.

We gathered together at school and then we went for a coffee and for me it was one of the best moments during those five days.

I had the chance to meet everyone and I spent a really good time and it was a lot of fun.

On Sunday morning, Kinga woke up really early because she was very excited to visit the region.

So we had breakfast and we decided to visit Barragem do Azibo, a fluvial beach in Macedo de Cavaleiros, in the morning. She loved it because she told me that she loves nature and she said that the Barragem do Azibo was beautiful.

We had lunch and then we visited Mirandela, a town near Macedo de Cavaleiros.

I showed her the most beautiful parts in Mirandela, the river and the park and we talked about a lot of things. I learnt a lot of things about Kinga and Poland.

In the end of the afternoon we went to my grandparent’s village and she met almost all my family. She tried some food she had never tried like “alheira” and I think she liked it.

On Monday morning we went to school and we showed all of them and their teachers our school. Then we had lunch in the library and it was really funny too, because there were tables from all the countries in the project and I tried a lot of food I’d never tried before. In the afternoon we all met to have dinner together and we spent a really good time too. After dinner we were together again and we went for a coffee. It was really nice.

On Tuesday morning all the teachers and students met in school and we visited Barragem do Azibo. We took a lot of pictures and we invented a dance for a song that the teachers created about our Erasmus+ project and that was really funny. After that we lunched and we spent some time there.

After that we came back to Macedo de Cavaleiros, we had a snack and we went to some stores so they could buy some gifts for their families.

And Wednesday was the saddest day. We all woke up really early and I left Kinga at the bus station.

This was an experience that I am going to keep forever in my memory. I couldn’t have asked for a better person to be in my house.

Maria Vaz (Portugal)

A great experience

I loved the experience of being a host to an exchange student because it helped me to see how other cultures live their day-to-day life.

I was so excited about the trip even though I wasn’t the one doing it, I spend days preparing so everything was perfect. By the time I went to pick Chandni at the bus stop I had all the minutes of the trip programmed.

After having my first vegetarian dinner ever, we went to the town to meet the others, where I met the group for the first time, we had a good time getting to know each other and joking about the different accents.

On Sunday we went on a little trip to a nearby city called Bragança to see the historical past there, it was a beautiful sunny day so we went to the dam, Azibo, for a coffee and a good photo.

Joana

On the first day of school we attended my History and English classes where we just did the normal things in class. At lunch we tried the traditional foods from all countries, which was terrifying but very good in most cases.

By the end of the day we already were inseparable, went all around the town together in a big group.

The next days were spent exploring the town and its surroundings. Singing and dancing, taking a lot of photos because after all we are from the 21st century. Lunch and a lot of selfies after that we were tired and full of cookies.

The hardest part for everyone were the goodbyes although at six in the morning we were feeling sick to the stomach to say goodbye but all these days after I still speak with Chandni and that’s all that matters.

I learn that a thing is to learn English at school and another one is to live with it on a daily basis.

Joana Bourbon (Portugal)

Being part of LIFE

From 19th September to 23rd September I hosted Cyril, a Belgium friend I met virtually, when I decided to take part in the Erasmus+ programme.

Despite having chatted with Cyril for a month previous to the meeting, we didn’t know each other very well, the first contact was very informal, maybe because we both Portuguese and foreign were students very excited to be together.

After picking up my host at the bus station, we came home and our dinner had a typical Portuguese ingredient, codfish, which I can say Cyril loved. We finished with a Belgium biscuit Cyril brought.

The journey had been tiring to Cyril, so he went to sleep early, we would have the whole Saturday to enjoy each other’s company.

As indeed we did, in the morning I was his tourist guide in Macedo and in the afternoon we went to Azibo where we ate an ice cream and walked a little and then we proceeded to Bragança. There we met Marta, who hosted Lidia and Joana who hosted Chandni. We visited the Iberian Museum of Mask and Costume and the castle, where we climbed the tower.

Eurico_1

Monday came, school stared for me, in the morning we went to classes until 10 am and then we took part in some activities organized by our teachers, such as the school visit, made by Portuguese students and the international lunch with food from all the five countries, Portugal, Spain, Poland, England and Belgium, a lot of delicious food that we spent about an hour and a half eating up. In the afternoon we did a cultural quiz and when we finished it we went to the city centre and had fun together, we came back home at night.

The last day came too quickly, Tuesday we went to Azibo again, but these time with the group, and despite the cold wind, we had an amazing day, since Tiago´s jokes to our song, “ESBELENPOPOR”, that although our floppy voice still sounds well. The day finished at Ana’s house, we had dinner with Ana, Missia, Lara, Mariana, Lidia and Marta.

Cyril left on Wednesday at daybreak but we still text each other.

Eurico 2

Eurico Afonso (Portugal)

A five-day experience

It was a very thoughtful decision, knowing that we had conditions and that would be an enriching experience, we said “yes” very quickly to the teacher’s invitation.We think it was an experience to repeat.

For five days I hosted Lydia, a Spanish girl who made this “task” of hosting someone much easier.

Marta_1

This experience began with the arrival of all students and teachers from other countries. I soon realized that my guest was very friendly and I got even more convinced that it would be a magnificent five days.

At home I showed her the rooms and explained that we needed to realize that the fact that we had to speak English whenever we wanted to talk to our guest was a big difference, and also the largest and perhaps the only difficulty. We always tried to make her feel as comfortable as possible and to enjoy this little stay at our house.

These five days coincided with the beginning of our school year, which made us take our new friends to our school. At the beginning, I did not find it very funny, because in addition to being in a new class, I was taking a foreigner with me … but as the day went by, all the activities became more interesting and fun.

During these days there were many activities, from visits and games to school everything was different and captivating.

This project allowed me to become friends with people from other countries, but also with colleagues from the same school who I had never spoken to before, and with this, I always try to keep in contact with everyone. I could also get to know the ways of life of foreign students, which in some aspects are quite different from ours. We shared a very nice international lunch, in which I could see the differences and similarities between meals of each country, this lunch also served to strengthen the most remarkable aspect in this project: the friendship created between hosts and guests, students and teachers.

Shortly …. A tough goodbye … Some longing ….

but the most important…

A wonderful encounter … New friendships … A great experience!

 

Marta Gonçalves