City OR Place, Country
I have been home for almost 2 months and am missing Porto every day. The experience I had, volunteering in Portugal, was one that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. I started by interning at Porto Spot Hostel for 8 weeks, after just a short time there I knew it wasn’t long enough and extended my stay for an extra 3 weeks. I was required to do an internship for my minor, but I never dreamed the experience would be this incredible!
When I first arrived in Porto I was a little afraid because the city is made of hills and the hostel seemed to be perched on the highest one. However, after arriving I went on a free walking tour (provided daily to hostel guests by Poncho Tours) and began to see the marvels of Porto. The hills were something I got used to really quickly and they never deterred me from going out day or night.
From the first day the hostel staff treated me like family and joked with me, whenever I had a question they always had an answer. It wasn’t long before I was able to give directions to the best food, tourist sites, bars, and clubs to all of the guests.
During my shift, which was usually from 7:00 pm – 12:00 am, I ran the bar and planned nightly activities. The guests were usually in their 20’s and were always down for a party, so our activities usually included food or drinking games like beer pong or flip cup. There is a big patio area with picnic tables, a grill, and a hammock where we would spend the warm Portuguese nights and visit. Each day was a completely different experience and chance to meet new people.
Guests visit the hostel from all over the world and I met people from different countries daily. Not only that, but my job allowed (and encouraged me) to talk with the guests, get to know them on a personal level, and learn about their life and traveling experiences. My goal for the internship was to learn about different cultures and I cannot see a better way I could have done this.
The accommodations were great and I slept in an 8 person dorm. For the first week it was too noisy for me to sleep, but I soon adjusted and was able to sleep through guests waking up and packing. The kitchen was big and I could use it anytime I wanted. There were even some community items like oil and spices I was free to use.
One of the greatest things about Portugal is its size. It was easy to travel from Porto to Lisbon or to any other nearby city by bus to train and the tickets were reasonably priced. Also I was amazed by the culture and hospitality. Whether I was in the hostel or in the streets I was always met with a kind face and someone willing to chat (thankfully in English!) Of all the countries I have been, Portugal will always have the biggest space in my heart.