The first thing I faced upon reaching the Scottish capital was how to correctly pronounce its name. One would think that given the ending – burgh – it would be articulated as in Pittsburgh. Wrong. English wouldn’t be complete without its quirks… Ask a local how to correctly say it: ED-IN-BRUH. Yes, bruh!

The second was the freezing cold temperatures that made it pretty unbearable to spend some quality time outside. Truth be told, when I packed, I took as if I was going to expect mild, rainy weather. Mistakes do happen and I paid the price – a runny nose along with a tenebrous cough.

The third ordeal I had to go through was the accommodation. I thought about doing Couchsurfing due to the fairly steep prices, but a few days before coming to the city I was able to snag a pretty good deal: $13 for 2 nights at a fairly central hostel with average ratings. I knew beforehand I was not in for anything spectacular and it managed to be even worse: dirty floors, uncomfortable mattress, Arctic cold room due to bad isolation, one single toilet for a 12-bedroom and staff that was nowhere to be seen (I waited for about 20 minutes outside the hostel because no one was at the reception). Avoid staying at City Stay Hostel Edinburgh. The price you pay doesn’t make up for all the hassle.

In spite of all this ranting, Edinburgh really found its way to my heart. Inspiring architecture everywhere I looked (from the medieval Old Town to the neo-classical of the New Town), a state-of-the-art museum where spending a full day might not be enough, striking hiking trails that offer great panoramas and at last but not least, affordable prices on food, shopping… (at least when comparing with London!).




Pomelo + mandarine = sweet orange

Portugal and oranges have been tied together for generations… Since the 15th century at least. However if you ask a Portuguese if they have heard anything regarding their country’s connection with oranges, they will most likely raise an eyebrow…
During the XV century, brave sailors from Portugal began wandering into the vast ocean to uncover what was on other side, on other worlds… Today we know these adventures as the Portuguese Discoveries. They ventured into unknown territories along Africa, India and the far East.

Let’s first learn how to pronounce the word orange in several modern Indo-European languages:

Albanian | portokall
Bulgarian | портокал (portokal)
Greek | πορτοκάλι (portokali)
Macedonian | portokal
Persian | پرتقال (porteghal)
Romanian | portocală

Other languages have similar names as well:

Arabic | البرتقال (bourtouqal)
Georgian | ფორთოხალი (p’ort’oxali)
Turkish | portakal

Southern Italian dialects, such as Neapolitan, pronounce orange as portogallo or purtuallo.

I guess you can now sense the similarities between the pronunciation of the fruit orange and the country Portugal!
Portuguese merchants were the first to introduce the sweet orange in Europe. At the time, the orange was an hybrid fruit made from the crossover of a mandarine and a pomelo.
I guess we can thank the Portuguese for giving us the juicy sweet orange we all know and love!


Dia dhuit!

With affordable Ryanair flights all around, it becomes incredibly easy to just hop on a plane and spend a few days somewhere else. Dublin was the chosen destination, as to smell the scents of an unknown territory. The scent of roasted barley, mostly.

Our trip began in great haste. The boarding closed at 9 a.m. and we made it to the airport just 5 minutes before. We hurried through the security screening and soon we made it to the gate. If the flight had not been a few minutes delayed, we wouldn’t have made it. A great rush of adrenaline even before we set foot in Dublin!

That’s the way you pronounce it. But you should write it as “craic”.

Let’s go have some crack! said every Irish once weekend comes. Not to worry, the Irish are not on the verge of having to check-in to a detox clinic. Craic is an Irish word, with no exact English translation. The closest meaning to it is fun.

“Having craic” is having a good time or a laugh. However, due to an unfortunate similarity in pronunciation with a well-known and illegal narcotic substance, not everyone gets the right idea about it… So if you are in Dublin and want to have some craic, head to Temple Bar and have a good time.

If you happen to be in Dublin for a few days, I highly recommend hopping on a train (or bus, or whatever transport suits you better) and go immerse yourself in the nature. We chose Howth, a seaside village merely 20 minutes away from Dublin by train. Set out for a walk along the cliff paths and soak in all the misty and damp beauty of the place. Make it extra worth and bring with you some light sandwiches for an invigorating picnic.

Do you know what Guinness and Ryanair have in common? Take a look at their logos… You’ll notice something: the harp! Only when in Dublin I came to such realisation. Silly me.

But why the harp?
Both Ryanair and Guinness were born in the leprechaun island.

Is is known that the harp as history dating as far as 1000 years. Brian Boru, the last High King of Ireland (death: 1014), is said to have been an accomplished harp player, but little evidence remains to sustain this fact. However, 12th century historical records refer to the Celtic harp being the only music played during the Crusades.

At this time, the Gaelic harp was hold in high regard in Celtic culture (and all over Europe). Scottish and Irish kings had their own resident harper who, in turn, enjoyed high status and special privileges.

In 1531, when the English monarch Henry VIII declared himself King of Ireland, the country’s harp was taken into high regard, being chosen as the official symbol of Ireland and stamped on every coin issued during Henry’s realm.

What not to forget!

  • Bring with you a power plug adapter! Ireland uses the same standard as the UK…
  • If it’s in your plans to go out of the city to explore the nature, bear in mind the shoes you take. It can get quite muddy.

In the Spotlight with… Rita Mendes!

In the Spotlight with… began as a little project in my previous blog (Take the Plunge), in which I invited friends from all around Europe, who were crazy enough to become EVS volunteers in Lithuania, to share a bit about themselves and the projects they were developing.
I have now decided to resurrect this idea and invited my dear friend Rita, who recently became a volunteer in Lithuania as well, to share her thoughts.
Live from Biržai (Lithuania)!

Who is Rita? Be brief.
1,70 cm, brown hair and eyes… Well, that is difficult. I think Rita is a strict person, concerning the things which really interest. I consider myself as tolerant in many different ways and subjects, but that doesn’t mean absence of criteria or limit. Actually, I have my ideas quiet well defined but I always try to understand the others around me. If I do not understand them, how will I expect that someone will understand me? I like to meet with different people, but I also cherish having my own space and time. I like to think about issues but also to enjoy a very good moment just by emotions. I care about people in general, but even more the ones I really like. I’m not a person of having many people around, unless it means to party! I could say a lot, but I think this is enough.

Santa Rita

What made you decide to become a volunteer? Both as an EVSer (European Voluntary Service volunteer) and in your previous experiences?
The need and willingness to help and know people more.
Regarding the need to help: please don’t see this on the romantic way of showing off and being kind just to say that to the world. For me that is not the real volunteering or kindness. I simply believe that all of us have strengths and weaknesses, and it’s in our power to use the good we have in ourselves, share it (it can be simply a conversation with someone else) and with that we may change a life. We are not all born in the same places, we don’t naturally have the same access to good weather, food, money or even knowledge.
I believe I can help someone through different actions, by sharing my knowledge, helping to cross a street, having a good conversation, … I think the aim should be always one: make the people with whom I interact better in a certain way. This feeling fulfils me a lot.
About knowing more people the reason is short: I think we become more complete as human beings as much we know about other human beings. And we just achieve that the most when we contact with different ways of living, different realities. It shows us how small we are and give us much more sensibility and human tolerance and conscience.

It is normal for people to make stereotypes, especially when you are unfamiliar with the subject. Introduction aside, what were your thoughts on Lithuania before being there?
Actually, I did not have that much information about Lithuania. For me it was a country as any other of this unknown European region, where I had no idea about lifestyle or people. When I searched for EVS program it was one of the reasons that made me choose this country. Meanwhile, during research I learnt a bit more about it and also could talk with some people who already had gone there and it was essential to decide. Besides, having a friend (YOU) that made EVS in Lithuania helped me making the decision and knowing more about the strong and difficult weather, the food or some aspects of lifestyle.


What is a typical day for you in Biržai?
Well, I wake up at 7:30 every weekday, walk to my working place, the “Biržų krašto muziejus – Sėla”. I work there from 9:00 to 16:00 and have one lunch hour. Usually I go to have lunch at 12:00 with my tutor and my partner, also savanoris (volunteer), Natalia. We go to the public canteen, Valgykla, where we meet lots of locals: policemen, teachers, museum staff and others.
In the museum the tasks are many and we don’t usually do the same things everyday. We work on texts to prepare tours in English and other educational programs that museum offers, also attend to some workshops and prepare and give lessons, give ideas and discuss about what to improve in the museum.
After work, around 16:00, I usually go to the supermarket to buy groceries or for a coffee. Sometimes I go together with other volunteers to the gym or to attend a sports’ event. I am usually at home by 18:00, since it is very cold and gets dark very early. Occasionally we (all the volunteers) meet in someone’s flat to have some tea and enjoy the time together. The typical time to go to bed is 22h30 +/-.


Be honest, how is your Lithuanian going?
Well not that good, unfortunately. It is a very difficult language and I was not expecting that. Everything is different, from sounds to way of thinking and of course the words. So until now I just barely understand some words or usual expressions. But I am determined on learning it. I want to be able to communicate with everyone here and I feel that the language is in fact a barrier.

Have you already discovered something about yourself during the time you’ve been in Lithuania?
I don’t think so. At least not that clearly. I think it’s too soon for answering this question with a clear response. We are always changing ourselves and finding something more about us. Here is no exception. Maybe things are more intense in the way we live because everything is new, and maybe it will result in a bigger exposition of our personality. But until now I didn’t think on that too much.

Snowy Biržai

Now for the cliché one: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Well, still have no idea. That is the one million question! But doing something related to my course, physics and bio-engineering, making more volunteering actions or doing something related to my ‘’passion’’ arts. In fact I have some ideas, but still being developed inside.


If you had to give some advice to future EVS volunteers, what would you say?
To choose properly the project they want because it would be half of their daily time and a good project is half of the way. To try to know the most about their receiving organisation and have some previous feedback because it will influence the way some personal problems will be solved and the accommodation conditions, which also depend on the place of the project.
Being conscience about which are the rights and the duties of each involved part, since they will be our “laws’ during EVS program.
Besides, to try to enjoy the most and take the best part of what this experience is. We have a freedom to be ourselves and improve the skills we want, sharing it in a multicultural way that is extremely rich.
Each one make their own experience. Make it worth your while.

Obrigado Santa Rita!

OnAir #6


Netflix is a well-oiled marketing machine. Almost everything that is under its umbrella is highly scrutinised by the media and usually met with great receptiveness. The End of the F***ing World is not different.


A TV series premiered on the British broadcaster Channel 4 in October 2017 and it only gained international momentum once Netflix bought the rights to be aired beyond the Brexit Kingdom.

Short and thriving, The End of the F***ing World follows the story of James, a 17-year-old who believes to be a psychopath and kills animals for his own pleasure. Grown tired of such endeavours, he seeks for an upgrade: killing a human being.

Enters Alyssa, a cocky and grumpy girl who brings a breath of fresh air into James’ life. Mutual interest leads them to cut loose with their past and embark on a dark and indie (yeah, something) adventure through midland England. Blood, swears and tears and complete this package.

Fucking World

You get involved in the story from the get-go, and eight episodes of roughly 20 minutes each seemed too short. I was craving for more and the ending, albeit perfectly suiting the show, left many things without an answer. One way to unravel what might be in for a future season (unclear if that is going to happen… with Netflix, who knows?) is by reading the comic book by Charles Forsman, with the same name, in which the TV series is based.

Also worth noting the excellent photography and soundtrack.