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Marta’s experience in Ljubljana

My name is Marta, I am 29 years old and I am from Portugal.

I started my one-year ESC programme in February 2019, at Ljubljana Pride Association.

In Portugal, I was volunteering at film festivals, including Queer Lisboa – International Queer Film Festival.

Last year I came to Ljubljana to visit a couple of friends and learned about the ESC programme and the work that Ljubljana Pride did. I was immediately interested. The idea of moving to another country was extremely appealing as well as the opportunity to do some meaningful work.

I think I had really high expectations for the work that I was going to be doing, all the while trying to be realistic. I’m happy to say that a lot of times this experience has been more positive than expected.

I get to be part of a team of wonderful people, who have always made me feel welcome, since day one. They’ve been supportive and I feel like I’ve learned so much.

How do you find Ljubljana? Is it very different living in Slovenia than living in Portugal? What will you miss the most, what are you missing from Portugal? What surprises you with the culture here?

Coming from Lisbon, Portugal’s capital city, I feel that Ljubljana is quite small, and you always end up running into someone you know.

The good thing is that you can leave your house and within 15 minutes you are at the centre, meeting up with your friends for a coffee or a drink. And, at night, I can walk home and still feel safe.

From Portugal I think I miss mostly the food and warm weather. During the colder months I definitely missed the sun.

I’m sure I will miss the people I’ve met a lot and the work I have been doing.

What was the best part of your stay here until now?

I have always loved to travel, to get to know new places, people and cultures. Being here has made that possible. I not only have Slovene friends, but I also got to meet other ESC people from different countries, working both in Ljubljana and in other parts of Slovenia.

The on-arrival training and the mid term meeting were also great experiences and included sledging (Portugal has very little snow) and hiking to a waterfall, respectively.

Visiting places outside of Ljubljana like the seaside and the lakes was also amazing and I hope I’ll still visit more.

What have you learned during your volunteering project?

I’ve been given the opportunity to develop my photography and video editing skills. This was something that I had been hoping to do for a long time and I’m happy that the association has trusted me with the responsibility of covering different events.

I have also learned a lot about the LGBTIQ+ community, in general, and here in Slovenia. Being confronted with a different reality than the one I lived in Portugal has been quite interesting.

Me and the other volunteer working here have been given the freedom to propose different activities and topics for discussion, using our weekly “Pride Connects”.

What was the best thing during your volunteering project?

I still have 5 months left on my programme. So far the highlight was the Pride Festival, in June. It was almost a full month of non-stop work, stressful, but in the end very fulfilling. Over the next months I will develop a personal project, which right now feels a bit overwhelming, but I have a great support system here at Ljubljana Pride Association so I know I can count on them. 

Would you recommend ESC volunteering projects and why?

Absolutely yes! It will change your life; it will make you grow as a person and give you the opportunity to not only do something meaningful but to meet people from different countries and cultures. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity, so you if can, go for it!

Marta Torres, 29 let

Article published on: Mlad.si

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