A single Portuguese year

April 19th. The day I squeezed my luggage in the trunk of the infamous Olde Vechte “blue swan” Daihatsu and made my way to the Ommen train station, off to the airport. It was a sunny day; there was a bunch of people there that waved goodbye at me, just like I did to countless other people before.

Mixed feelings. Is this the right thing to do? What the hell am I going to do for a living in Portugal? Am I gonna be able to be a fully functional adult that pays bills and taxes and everything? I love Olde Vechte, why am I leaving it?

For a while, this feeling of being lost lingered.  Being in a new country, full of new faces, places, things to take care of, completely disoriented me. For a while, I was floating, torn between desperately clinging on memories of Netherlands, sustaining relationships with family and friends spread all over Europe and getting used to the way of life in Portugal.

And as I was mindlessly bingeing on some kind of anime (Monogatari series most probably), it hit me.

That instantaneous limbo, that realization that I’m between setting up my life in a new place and unconsciously letting go of the place I called home. Needless to say the sensation was pretty devastating for a moment; bleak, obscure, sore.

It’s over.

It’s not just the place. Or the people. Or the nature. The buildings, the large open windows. The bikes. The daily intercultural confetti. It’s all of this, carefully blended together in a soup of nostalgia.

I wrote a sentimental post before leaving Athens in August 2015. And a certain Panagiotis said, you’re gonna do the same post when you leave Ommen. I might have. Doesn’t matter. I’m anyway writing about it now.

I Wrote This For You has an amazing post about these kind of heart-wrenching goodbye situations:

{ I hope that in the future they invent a small golden light that follows you everywhere and when something is about to end, it shines brightly so you know it’s about to end.

And if you’re never going to see someone again, it’ll shine brightly and both of you can be polite and say, “It was nice to have you in my life while I did, good luck with everything that happens after now.”

And maybe if you’re never going to eat at the same restaurant again, it’ll shine and you can order everything off the menu you’ve never tried. Maybe, if someone’s about to buy your car, the light will shine and you can take it for one last spin. Maybe, if you’re with a group of friends who’ll never be together again, all your lights will shine at the same time and you’ll know, and then you can hold each other and whisper, “This was so good. Oh my God, this was so good.” }

I couldn’t possibly contain my feelings and memories about Netherlands in a few lines, so I’ll leave it for another post. We’re here to talk about Portugal.

Portugal has been kind to me. Despite my lack of “normal job” skills, I managed to find work in a relatively short while, both times I looked for it. It was actually possible due to the large volume of outsourcing companies (namely call centers) that are currently thriving in the country. There’s an insane number of projects around Lisbon area that feature use of all kinds of languages, surprisingly even Greek. I am currently working for the Greek market, for example. Lisbon, and Portugal in general, has been trendy to move into for quite some time. There is a large number of foreigners coming to live here because it’s so famous; freelancers, climate refugees, retirees from the US and the UK.

I was shocked when I realized what this has done to the real estate market. The rents and house prices have skyrocketed – basic salary is 500 euros and there is people advertising single rooms for up to 600 euros. To be honest, I saw lower prices in Netherlands. Where the basic salary is 3 times what it is in Portugal. While stunning Lisbon is just overflowing with energy and tourists, people with “normal” jobs have to move further and further away towards the suburbs.

I am blessed, as I said; I live far far away from Lisbon ( ok, not that far, but sometimes commuting makes it seem so), in Cascais. Our house is literally 500 meters from the ocean. Summers are cooler because there’s always this wonderful salty breeze. I’ve spent hours since I arrived to Portugal just staring at the ocean. It’s a very different feeling from looking at the Greek seas – I always feel that the ocean can wash away each and every feeling inside me until the only thing left is to breathe.

Inevitably, the one thing that mainly happened while I was here for the past year is learning. I struggled with life and stuff, just like everyone else here. I had the unending support from Paco, without whom I feel this whole thing would be a tad impossible. Since April 19th 2017, we installed curtains, new gas tubes, contraptions to make our tiny kitchen work, we cleaned the house mold 100 times,  we walked far and wide, we melted into the couch playing games and watching tv shows, wrapped ourselves in 5 thick blankets in the dead cold heating-less winter, drank cider with chili in a secret garden, hosted friends from all over on our sofa bed (with whom we always had brunch with pancakes, it’s now a tradition), ate at least 100 pastéis de nata, did approximately 276.3 trips to Lidl that’s 2 minutes away, breathed in the dusk at Torre, had about 50 dinners with friends and in between all that, managed to stay sane and keep growing (25 is a really good age to be in).

I never let go of my goal. I am a personal cook and I will open my own catering company as soon as possible. I have so much to learn, which makes it exciting, and Portugal is an incredibly suitable place to get the best ingredients. Portugal’s food culture, although initially disappointing (way too much meat-focused, if you ask for vegetables in a restaurant they bring you whole boiled potatoes usually) is rapidly expanding due to the gentrification process mentioned above – there is not a single thing that I haven’t found, restaurant or market wise in this country. There is even a food truck, o Pirata Grego, that resides in Lisbon and serves Greek souvlaki, frappe and Greek artesanal beer. (Paulo is really nice, a stop there is worth it) There’s a couple of Greek restaurants as well, that I will visit shortly to make up for all the baklavas and pitas I’ve missed.

(I want to note here the uncanny resemblances between Greece and Portugal; Especially Finanças: it is EXACTLY the same as its greek fiscal counterpart. Same 50+ rude and unhelpful employees, same bureacracy, same procedures. As expected.)

All in all… I love Cascais. It’s home now, just like Athens and Ommen. Our hood is awesome and full of insane murals and graffitis on the old, moldy buildings. Full of kids competing with a ball or roller blades, and people making barbeques in the street. It’s colourful… Just like I like it. And Portugal gives me great energy, even though I don’t want to stay here forever. If you’ve read so far, you might have noticed from my writing that I have mixed feelings about living in Portugal. Oh well. I’m not sure if it’s a transitioning phase from one place to the other or from childhood to adulthood, but heck yeah it’s a hell of journey. What’s important is that I know where I’m going, I am sustaining myself and establishing my life path with slow but steady steps. Way to go Daphne, you’re adulting! Woop!!

So that’s a lot of memories, all of them hoping not to be forgotten, thus here are some stills from a year well spent in Portugal.


Lisbon pastel dream


More pastels from Lisbon

Lisboa view

Café da Garagem | Lisboa



Guincho Beach 5


Cascais Marina love


The Cascais Ocean 1


The Cascais Ocean 3




Our Hood



Cascais Lumina festival

Lumina Festival Cascais


Mango lime baked cheesecake

Food 8


Food 7

Hello Mrs. Fancy breakfast

Food 5

And another cheesecake because I can never make enough

Food 4

Learning how to make awesome crunchy bread

Food 2

Guess what. Cheesecake

Food 1

Chocolate banana bread @_@


FALAFEL! Best thing ever


Picture: Paco | Model: Despi




Olá! From the very first days I was here (oooold TV in the background and my long hair flowing everywhere)





Series #02 | [Black Mirror]

I’ll start by presenting a collection of the songs played in the ingenious TV show Black Mirror. The first few seconds is the opening sequence accompanying every episode. No fancy titles or catchy music. Just the somewhat uneasy feeling of realizing you’re seeing your own reflection on whatever screen you’re watching it on.

This exact type of uneasy feeling followed me all through the series, sometimes with such an intensity that I was left feeling completely fucked-up after the end of the episode. There is a couple of episodes that don’t really aim at tackling your gut in this way; they’re more like a breath of fresh air amidst the thick, choking overall atmoshpere.


Each episode is a stand-alone story, so you can watch them how you please, but I’d advise watching them in order. But any episode you start with, you’ll get a taste of the twisted (or ahead of their time?) minds of the creators. Alas, be warned: I read somewhere, “One episode at a time is a challenge, so six in a row seems impossible.”, which reflects my own experience quite nicely.

Black Mirror ventures in a wide range of territories. Politics, social media, television, hate, video games, relationships. Most of the episodes are set in the (near) future, featuring advanced devices which make the whole point of the show seem like technology is the ultimate bad guy. All stories stayed with me for a few days at a time – the question always lingering in my mind; isn’t one or multiple of these fictional stories the inevitable future?

I wouldn’t exaggerate if I said that if I had to (re)watch only one show for the rest of life, it would definitely be Black Mirror. Are you ready to dive into the deep, dark abyss of humanity’s mind?

On a side note, here you can find faux comic book-style covers for each of the show’s episodes, accompanied by a short description.

2016 through sound

This year brought me everything that every other year brings.
Pain-first emotion that came to mind; too many farewells these days, too many walls being raised simultaneously. Love-finding it, as always, in the strangest of moments.
States of bliss, of sorrow, beauty, desire.

Epic screenings, followed by epic music.

Gaming as a form of meditation.

Visualising love through cooking.

And as I am spending the last day with loved ones, I would like to close it with this piece of art. I started this year with watching Episode VII of Star Wars and I end it with Rogue One. Rebellions are built on hope, no matter how grim things may look.


The closer you get to light, the greater your shadow becomes.
– Kingdom Hearts

In order for the light to shine so brightly, the darkness must be present.
Francis Bacon

There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.
-Edith Wharton

What is a soul? It’s like electricity – we don’t really know what it is, but it’s a force that can light a room.
Ray Charles

There is a crack in everything.
That’s how the light gets in.
― Leonard Cohen

We are told to let our light shine, and if it does, we won’t need to tell anybody it does. Lighthouses don’t fire cannons to call attention to their shining – they just shine.

-Dwight L. Moody

It may be that you are not yourself luminous, but that you are a conductor of light. Some people without possessing genius have a remarkable power of stimulating it.
― Arthur Conan Doyle




Erasmus+ and youth opportunities resources for Greeks and the general public

This post has been long overdue. Since my first youth exchange in June 2013, I’ve talked with an ever-growing amount of people about what I do abroad, how I managed to find these projects, how it’s possible to do so many of them if I’m always broke as fuck and what exactly do I even get from them.

The last conversation I had was with the guys from the coding course I attended this week, and some of them showed great interest in what I had to say, since I already know a lot about these things. I absolutely despise talking, I get nervous and awkward and am unable to explain things properly, so writing is a much better way to get all this information out there.

So finally, here it is. A resource post with all the info and organisations I know about that have to do with youth mobility. Please, feel free to comment under my post if you are part of/know an organisation that you believe should be included in the list! Of course, I recognize that even my knowledge is quite limited compared to people that are actively involved in Erasmus+ as  part of an organisation.

First things first: What on earth is Erasmus+? (here is a bit more detailed page)

When people hear the word “Erasmus”, they instantly think that it’s all about the student mobility thing. Well, guess what. In short, Erasmus+ is the EU’s new programme for boosting skills and employability through education, training, youth, and sport. Before that there was Youth in Action.

The funding for the whole project is channeled to each country through the National Agencies. Through their pages you can find projects and information in your own language and contact them for inquiries.

So the lists that follow include NGOs that are either Sending (SO), Hosting (HO) or Coordinating (CO) organisations, or even all of the above! As copy-pasted from the programme guide, these mean:

    • Applicant organisation from a Programme Country: in charge of applying for the mobility project, signing and managing the grant agreement and reporting. The applicant can be a consortium coordinator: leading a mobility consortium of partner organisations of the same country aimed at organising any type of student and staff mobility.
    • Sending organisation: in charge of selecting students/staff and sending them abroad. This also includes grant payments (for those in Programme Countries), preparation, monitoring and recognition related to the mobility period.
    • Receiving (Hosting) organisation: in charge of receiving students/staff from abroad and offering them a study/traineeship programme or a programme of training activities, or benefiting from a teaching activity.
    • Intermediary (Coordinating) organisation: this is an organisation active in the labour market or in the fields of education, training and youth work in a Programme Country. It may be a partner in a national mobility consortium, but is not a sending organisation. Its role may be to share and facilitate the administrative procedures of the sending higher education institutions and to better match student profiles with the needs of enterprises in case of traineeships and to jointly prepare participants.

These may all sound kind of (or largely) unclear, so what essentially happens is, you find a SO in your country of residence, you apply for one of the projects they are offering (could be an EVS, or a training, or a youth exchange), you get accepted (or not), and you get to go to the country where that project is taking place. You’re hosted there by the HO. How to explain with clear, precise ELI5 wording what the CO part is still a bit unclear for me as well, so I would appreciate corrections and help here.

Personally, the crown and pride and glory of the Erasmus+ programme is European Voluntary Service, or EVS for short. It’s what I’ll be doing in the Netherlands from September 2nd.

Again, in short, if you are between 17 and 30, have spare time from two weeks up to a year in your hands, want to do something creative with your time, have no money to fund your interests, travel, meet other cultures and a horde of other like-minded people, EVS is for you. I strongly recommend it to people who are fresh out of university or school, have been unemployed for some time or just love travelling and experiencing new things. Or all of these! Important:

You will receive free accommodation, food, insurance and pocket money. The only thing you might have to pay is a small part of your travel costs.

Also important, you can only do EVS once in your life. If it’s a short-term project, you may be eligible to apply for a second EVS, but the time you spend abroad must be in total one year. Consider the possibilities carefully, because not everything is rainbows and unicorns. There are terrible projects out there, and people who just want to eat up the funding money. But don’t be discouraged like this – talk with people, do your research, ask me for recommendations and you’ll have the time of your life.

You can find ALL of the EVS projects here. You can search by country/town of preference and type of the project you want. The themes are extremely diverse. For example, I was a mentor of EVS volunteers who worked in TRAG, including therapeutic riding sessions for disabled people and of volunteers who worked in the offices of Greek Forum of Refugees.

In this European Youth page, you can also find other volunteering opportunities here, but I’ve never really participated in something like this so I can’t be of much help. Here you can find their Facebook page. I like organising things in lists, so I have put every page I’ll mention here in special list on Facebook. Good that it’s kinda worth it for something other than hoarding friends and stalking people.

Here we go then. It’s a clear list of NGOs that help you get involved with all the things I mentioned above!

Greek NGOs and other amazing groups of people:

This is not the best time for me to post this, because the Greek Nation Agency’s funding has been indefinitely suspended since April. You can probably discover the reason if you think about the state of the Greek political scene since the beginning of the year. What the suspension means is that there can be no projects implemented in the country whatsoever – no new EVS volunteers, no trainings, no youth exchanges, etc. The problems started way back of course, I remember the NA having financial difficulties for more than a year. BUT, you can still contact these NGOs to projects outside of the country – which I strongly advise you do. Most or all of these post regularly about new opportunites, be it short- or long-term. Keep in mind that even though I’m writing this in English so it can be accessed by everyone, a lot of the NGOs below have projects and information in Greek only.

You can also find some of these in the EVS database I linked above, if you search them by name.

I’ll start with this one as an honour, because I went to my first youth exchange through them. Everyone, meet

Based in Crete. I went through them to Finland, for a youth exchange called Creative Photography in the Finnish Wilderness, along with Garret and Dimitris. Gotta thank him for this whole business, cause he was the first to discover these things and went through Nuestro Mundo to Olde Vechte in Ommen, the Netherlands for a youth exchange in March 2013. That’s incidentally the organisation I’ll be going to for EVS.

Continuing with the organisation I was (am?) an EVS mentor for.

The Greek branch of Service Civil International. They will be my SO for going to EVS in Olde Vechte. They also organise a lot of workcamps which you can find out about in the page I linked here.

I know a couple of the guys involved here personally, and I love them. 😀

I think just their name is motivating in itself. Don’t be a couch potato.

Self-described as an informal group of ambitious people and filmmakers interested in new media & youth work.

I know their crazy dudette Antonia, who will never forgive me for taking away her tobacco.

You can also participate in workcamps through them.

They organised the last training course I went to, in Skoulikaria, Greece. They’re pretty new but have great aspirations.

I can’t remember how I found out about the rest of the NGOs, but probably through facebook shares or through people I met that knew them. Networking!

(Of course, there’s a lot more, and quite a few that are just Hosting/Receiving NGOs — meaning they can’t send out Greeks but only receive foreigners as EVS volunteers)

Other European organisations:

I will start with my favourite, since I’m going there for EVS in a couple of days. For a whole year! Woo!!

I strongly recommend attending at least one training/project happening in Olde Vechte, because you’ll start seeing your life change before your own eyes. I started with a youth exchange, and the place inspired me so much that I went back for a personal development training. From then on everything fell slowly into place and I decided it would be the best place for me to go to right now. There is an amazing amount of people who are working there, including the EVS volunteers and the trainers that come back several times per year to shake a bunch of young people up with their wise teachings.

OV is part of the Synergy Network, that organises trainings (either open calls or funded by the EU) for personal and professional development.

Right now the Spectrum Synergy project is ongoing.

Continuing in the Synergy business, I’ve also got to know some of the guys involved here. They’re real good! (They also have a wonderful partner page)

Moar Synergy. Their team has some amazing members and I’ve wanted to participate in some action with them for a long time, but I never got the chance. Soon, I hope!

Never had to do anything with these guys but I’m pretty sure they’re awesome too.

Welp, there’s also the Greek one. Starring my favourite mouse on their fb page.

Another NGO that is involved with Synergy and a long-term wish of mine to get involved in. Hungary.

More Balkan stuff, specifically Bulgarian. I went back and forth so many times in 2014 that it will always be in my heart, even though I wasn’t closely involved with any NGO there. Most of the info is in Bulgarian.

  • Balkan Kids| SO, HO (Hey David :D)
  • CVS Bulgaria | Facebook | SO, HO, CO
  • Suddenly I’ve forgotten half of the NGOs I got to know there. Ok. There’s still the EVS database.

Czech. Got to know through Šárka. 🙂

Cyprus! I visited (and was hosted at the volunteer’s places) both of them when I was in Nicosia (thanks to Toni :D) and later got to know Iliana from YEU in a training course in Bulgaria. Small world!!

Ok. This is getting really long, so I’ll now link to some more general resources which post about trainings all over.

First, here are some facebook groups (not my favourite thing because there’s too many posts):

Again, there’s quite a lot more of them, once you get involved they’ll start popping out like daises.

And some more pages and websites that can help you get into things.

Edit 31.08.2015: Panagiotis prompted me to add this one, it seems quite promising and I had been looking for something like it for a long time.

You can basically search for upcoming projects based on where you reside and where and when you want to go.

A network of eight Resource Centres working on European priority areas within the youth field. As part of the European Commission’s Training Strategy, SALTO-YOUTH provides non-formal learning resources for youth workers and youth leaders and organises training and contact-making activities to support organisations and National Agencies within the frame of the European Commission’s Erasmus+ :Youth in Action programme and beyond.

The Alliance of European Voluntary Service Organisations is an International Non-Governmental Youth Organisation that represents national organisations which promote intercultural education, understanding and peace through voluntary service.

The European Youth Foundation (EYF) provides assistance and funding for youth activities which promote human rights, democracy, tolerance and solidarity.

Phew. This took me two days to complete! ^^;

I’m pretty sure there’s things I forget and mistakes I’ve made with the NGO info, I may come back and fix this post from time to time.  Please, if you belong to any of these and get enraged by my neglect, don’t hesitate to flame my inbox.
Of course, you’re more than welcome to ask me more, and I can direct you to people who have an even better understanding of what this whole wonderful business is all about.


“As an introvert, interacting with other people feels like exercise. I feel better about myself every time I do it; it makes me stronger and healthier. It also exhausts me, and if I do it too much I feel sore and cramped. But if I go too long without it, I feel sluggish and stifled. Ultimately, it is the space between that energizes and sustains me. And some days, I just don’t feel like working out and would rather sit on my ass and read a book by myself.”

-Daniel Miles

Original post by Cubilone