Eu adoro estas crianças!


Last month we started working at the kindergarten and I couldn’t be happier.

I am really enjoying my time at the school, the kids are amazing, they are really curious about us and our culture and the teachers welcomed me in the best way and they always make me feel included and part of the class.

It took some days to get used to everything, at the beginning I was trying to communicate with some Italian words and a lot of gesture but now I can understand almost everything (If they speak slowly) and I am trying my best to communicate with the kids in Portuguese.

Last week we prepared several activities about Italy and the Italian culture. First of all, I have shown the kids some Italian monuments and videos about Italy, after that we made the Italian flag with different type of Pasta, we danced Italian Tarantella, prepared some Pizzas with colored paper and on the last day we prepared REAL pizzas. The kids were really excited about these activities and their reaction made me feel really appreciated and satisfied.  

I am sure in the next weeks we will do other interesting activities and games with the kids.

This is my Portuguese translation!

No mês passado eu comecei a trablahar na escola e estou muito feliz.

As crianças são maravilhosas, eles são muito curiosias e os professoras me fazem sentir parte da turma.

Eu estou a tentar de comunicar com meninos e os profesorras no Portuguese, na primeira dias estava dificil e tentei gesticular mais agora percevo tudo (quase tudo) e estou muito feliz.

Semana passada fizemos atividades sobre a Itália, uma bandeira com massas pintadas, dançamos as danças Italianas e preparamos pizzas. Os meninos ficaram muito felizes e por isso fiquei muito satisfeita. Com certeza nas próximas semanas prepareremos outras atividades maravilhosas.

Here some photos at the kindergarten during the activities! 🙂

Até já



Οla a todos !Como esta? I would like to make an update about what is happening during the EVS. Life in Portugal is really good, happy, colorful and very cheap as I already mentioned at my last post. I would say that  it’s the perfect choice to join an EVS here. Even with the COVID situation you can enjoy everything here (safety first!) .

About the volunteering stuff, I couldn’t be happier with the environment and the people in the kindergarten. The problem with the language becomes easier day by day. During the last weeks I am also available to understand the kids and give them some directions and I am proud of myself. The teachers are always welcome to every idea I have, always available to try new things that I recommend.  Also, my favorite part is when we combine things and ideas and the results are amazing. Even if we have any problem, people from Gaiac and the kindergarten are always there to solve it. Of course I can’t do my activities every day, but following a schedule and the daily routine there, everything  becomes so smooth and relaxing. Here I’m going to show you some stuff that we made during these weeks.

This photo is from my first days in the kindergrten. Even if I was not able to speak to the kids , I tried to draw a game on the ground that everyone knows,so we can communicate with smiles and hearts . Here my friendship with the little kids started.

Here as you can see they planted some beans after we read the famous story ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’ in Portuguese . On the next photo they are making a castle of a very soft matterial.We still waiting for the beans to grow up and make the fairytale true!

As the kids love colors, we paint a lot of stuff in the kindergarten.I should admit that sometimes I’m jealous of that, so I join them while they are painting 🙂

Through this ESC I’m trying to make them understand (but I also learn from them) how important is the value of tolerance, how to accept the differencies and how to treat everyone equally . Of course we do all of these things in through games,stories,colors and songs.

This was my short update about my life here. I wish you like it.

See you on the next one! Beijinhos!

Our first weeks of volunteering


This is our second month here and we would like to share with you what we have been up to.

In the first month we were getting to know each other better and discovered similarities and differences. After some days, unfortunately, Laura was in a culture shocked by discovering that Marttiina and Chrysa prepared overcooked pasta with cinnamon and ketchup. Obviously, Laura doesn’t want to be kicked out of her family, so she decided not to tell her grandmas.

Because of the lockdown our main outing was going to the supermarket and look for the best prices (an important skill for an ESC participant). Marttiina became crazy about Portuguese oranges by reaching an average of 4 oranges a day.

Gaiac team welcomed us at the headquarters and they are teaching us Portuguese, we are trying to do our best even if we don’t have the possibility to interact with locals. (apart from the grocery)

By hoping to see the kids from the kindergarten soon we are preparing a puppet show in Portuguese that we can’t wait to show them and receiving their feedback. (esperando que eles possam entender nosso português) and like the story we invented.

 Last week we had the on-arrival training for ESC volunteers, also if it was online it was a great opportunity to meet other volunteers in the same situation as us. In this week we discovered new tools and skills that will be useful for our volunteering experience.


Chrysa, Laura, Marttiina

The Magical Village

I wanted to see little bit of Portuguese nature and one day António took me to hike, away from the city, people, the kids and virus to be in total silence.

We were standing on top of mountain and we could see from there half of Portugal
You might see in this picture near the sea radio link tower and that’s Vila Nova de Gaia
Views were breath taking. I had never seen anything like this.
On top of that waterfall were standing cows.
To this view we ended our first morning hike. After this we had lunch break and started a new hike to The Magical Village.
From this village we started our hike.
He lied to me. I know that Portugal is very hilly country but I was still surprised.
Here it is The Magical Village in middle of nowhere. Only way to get here is by foot.
The village was really magical and very old.
Thanks to the goat I had more time to look at the great view.

Até já


My tour guide told me that this route is easier than the first one.
The whole route was just up and down, up and down, I was so exhausted and ready to quit. From here I could see our destination The Magical Village.
I took that upper picture near those trees.
It was getting dark and we started to get back to the car but there was a little bump on the road. On top of the hill you can see a goat. The goat was more exhausted than me and was slowing us down.
12,5 km up and down. The next night I was sleeping like a baby.

Learning Finnish

Because of worldwide pandemic we can’t do so many things in the kindergarten and everything we do is carefully thought. We can’t share arts and crafts items and everyone have to have their own. So I thought nice and easy thing I could do with the kids is get to know little bit of Finland. I printed map of Finland and I put there my home in Helsinki and my parents home in Lapland because Santa Claus lives there. I also brought Finnish children’s book to the kindergarten and there was also map of Finland and many pictures and little bit of Finnish history. Okay the book was in Finnish but I think the kids will understand the pictures. We also learned few animals and easy words in Finnish.

They draw me, my parents and our homes.

At first I thought that we could color the map like Finnish flag but because of language barriel we didn’t do that and most of the paper would stay white so that would be little boring for the kids 😀

Finnish flag and children’s book

Até já!


The Magic Word

When I was a child one of my favorite movies was Shrek. It was 2011 when they made to the cat his own movie. When I was child (that time 12) they always dubbed children movies in finnish. I remember there was one scene in movie that Puss and Humpty Dumpty were in a orphanage and all the orphans were making lots of noise in the lunchroom. The lady who worked there tried to clap her hands few times to get thoses children to be quiet, of course that didn’t work, she tried again and again it didn’t work. After that she yelled “silêncio” and all the orphans were quiet. Eventhoug the whole movie was dubbed in finnish they didn’t dubbed that part.

One day in the kindergarten where I work as a volunteer I was alone with the children for about 7 minutes and there were lots of noise. I tried to calm them and speak to them in english (cause I don’t speak portuguese) and they didn’t understand and they thought that it was funny. I didn’t have time to open Google translate to check what’s the right word for that. Then I remembered the magic word “silêncio” I learned many years ago watching an animation movie. I knew that in that movie they kind of speak spanish but I had nothing to lose and I will give that a try. I said loudly “silêncio” (in my very beautiful finnish accent) and before I get to even finish the word all of them were quiet.

So the teaching of the story was that watch animation movies and give things a try because you have nothing to lose.


From the magical land of Santa Claus


Who am I? 

Hello I’m Essi, 21 and I come from Santa Claus’s country. There’s many rumors about where Santa Claus comes from but for me he comes from Finland and Lapland. Enough of Santa Claus.

Originally I’m from Lapland, a small town called Sodankylä and the population of Sodankylä is about 8000 people. Sodankylä is the second largest municipality by size in Finland.  When I was 13 years old I moved from my parents home to a boarding school and it was 800 km away. It’s the only boarding school we have in Finland and I went there just because I wanted to be more independent. I was there for three years and after that I went back to Lapland. When I was 18 I moved to the capital of Finland Helsinki. I started working. 

How did I get here? 

I was in that part of my life that I wasn’t enjoying my current job that much. I graduated 2017 to be a tourism service provider. I never did even one day that job because somehow I always found myself working in restaurants. One lucky Friday morning when I woke up before going to work I saw an email from Finnish organization. I saw that I could go to Portugal and do a volunteering job in kindergarten. I’ve always wanted to do a volunteering job abroad and live at some point of my life in another country. So this could be a great opportunity for that. At first I was thinking how I could do work with kids because my only experience working with kids is from swimming school where I was a swimming teacher for several years. I have been on Youth exchange and there I got to know few people from Portugal so I already knew that I wouldn’t be alone. 

First weeks in Portugal

We were planning for me to come here in the first week of April but because you all know, things happen and we are still living in a worldwide pandemic. I came here 2nd of September and because of Covid-19 I had to stay in quarantine for 15 days at first before I got to go to the kindergarten. All I did during that 15 days quarantine was sunbathe in the balcony and watch too many hours of Disney+ (for you who are coming here I recommend learning Portuguese during that free time. I recommend learning from Duolingo. for me it was the easiest way and it’s free) 


Now I have been here little bit more than two months. I have already learned some Portuguese and it is not easy for me because Finnish and Portuguese have NOTHING in common. And finally I have been able to go to the kindergarten.  I have been enjoying that a lot!

I will later write more about the project and my feelings 🙂


Gaiac preparations for Festa da Broa de Avintes

On a sunny Sunday of September, Gaiac gathered some of their members along with the volunteers to prepare the materials for Festa da Broa. From what I understood, this is an important event of the Portuguese gastronomy, which celebrates one of the national bread types called “broa”, quite wide-spread in the north of Portugal.  This event took place in one of the districts of V.N.G. named Avintes, where, they say, is the best place for broa. You have to try by yourself!!

With several initiatives at the gastronomic, musical, cultural, recreational and sports level, Gaiac was also present with all kind of activities that attracted the curiosity of the youth looking for some fun. But the preparations started with some hours before the festival, in da house, where we had some leisure activities like preparing origami flowers &butterflies, creating stencils, decorating our T-shirts with Gaiac’s logo or juggling around for the first time. These types of events, where we are all together make us feel that we belong to the same organization and as long as we are having fun the outputs no longer matters.


Festa da Broa

Recently we had to present Gaiac association in a festival called Festa da Broa. Named after a traditional type of Portuguese bread, the event is filled with activities related to gastronomy, music, culture, recreation and sports.

Besides trying the surprisingly heavy loaf of broa with peaces of chorizo sausage and tasting possibly the best hommade icecream of my life, we entertained ourselves at the festival with learning how to juggle and filling a wall of different stencil designs, one of the members from Gaiac did impressive magic tricks for the public, and I had a chance to show the human rights boardgame to a member of Gabinete da Juventude, a youth organisation that might develop this game further in the future. We ended our day by a diner table together with members from Gaiac and Gabinete da Juventude.