This was my first project funded by the Erasmus+ program. It was all new to me. When I arrived in Sofia it took me some time to realize that the adventure had started. The adrenaline in my body only increased as we approached Dobrinishte. When we arrived, I realized that I was the only Portuguese in the project, and even though I had in mind that I wouldn’t allow myself to stay in my comfort zone, part of me felt that it would be more difficult to communicate with the group.
I remember that on the first day, during a circle in the hotel’s garden, we were asked to release all the stress and anxiety we had, through a race to the center of the circle. It seemed pointless, but I soon realized that it helped the whole group to break the ice and create a more relaxed atmosphere.
Another activity that brings me fond memories was the „mission impossible“, where we were divided into small groups and together we would have to complete as many tasks as possible. My group set out on an adventure in search of the Dobrinishte church and among many mistakes and unusual situations, we managed to find the church, talk to a local resident who kindly answered some questions. I remember helping my friend Vera throughout the activity and sharing jokes with her and laughing about everything.
In the morning I always woke up with the help of my roommate, who already knew that the probability of staying up late was very high. Every morning I went downstairs to the living room and there I found part of the group still sleepy. Then the training sessions started with trainers, who even seeing our sleepy faces, managed to cheer us up and get us moving! They were always ready to make every moment even more fun. And I remember perfectly how exciting it was when we learned that we were going to hike into the mountains that surrounded Dobrinishte. We quickly prepared for the adventure and continued our journey towards the mountains. On the way, in the middle of a lot of conversation, we saw some farm animals (cows, horses). It was one of my favorite activities, as it allowed us to know a little more about Dobrinishte, being in contact with nature and the spirit of mutual help that took place on that walk, it was something that I cherish.
If I could get into a time machine and return to the dawn of June 16 at Porto airport, I would tell Raquel that I wouldn’t regret living the next few days in Bulgaria. We had total freedom to have fun and be able to socialize with people, without having to wear a mask, it reminded me of the times before the pandemic.
To all my partners, coaches and organizers of this project, I just have to thank you for getting to know them. I treasure all the moments I lived in Dobrinishte with great affection and with the certainty that this was the first of many projects that I will participate in.
Ana Raquel Ribeiro, Portugal