Before setting off on my journey I had been warned about the laid back culture in Portugal. Personally, I have always a planner and I like to know what's going on before I dive into something new. I was hoping to take a lesson from being part of a country that are not so concerned with sticking to strick schedules and regiment. I am definitely learning from this experience. I've been embracing the flow here in Lisbon and am very pleased with the outcome.
First off, I've had to embrace quite a few changes at school within the initial three weeks of the program. I started out with the notion that I would be working with middle and high school students. So I researched and prepared myself with activities, games, and things from home to share with my future students. When I was told at our orientation that I would actually be working with kindergarten students, I thought "no problem" and continued to be excited for what was to come.
After starting at the school and making my schedule with the coordinator, it was back to a mix of different age groups; I would work with kindergarten, third grade, and tenth grade students. I was happy to help wherever it was needed, so again I thought "no problem". I was going with the flow and didn't let the changes bother me. After a visit from the PEBI coordinators from the Ministry of Education things changed again, and I think for good. I am only to be working with kindergarten students for the remainder of my time in the program.
Everyone at the school are great. I really enjoy the time with my students and supervisors. Since things changed for me over the three weeks I was able to connect with quite a few different teachers and visit different classes to chat with different ages of kids. Sure, all the materials I prepared for the older students have become obsolete but that's the least of my worries now. It's best to go with the flow, enjoy whatever situation you end up in, make the most of your time here!
I've received invitations from teachers to join them on activities and outings that I probably never would have known about if they hadn't been kind enough to ask me. I attended a fantastic concert last weekend with one of my supervisors and her daughter. A Portuguese band called The Black Mamba put on an excellent show in a historic coliseum in Lisbon's theater district and I had a wonderful time.
So keep an open mind and stay optimistic while you're abroad. Don't let little changes discourage you or stress you out. Say yes to new things and appreciate when things do work out in your favor. I don't regret anything about my experience in Portugal and I will keep going with the flow, wherever the wind takes me.