Exchange Sobreda-Uden – A rewarding experience
5th-11th January 2009
After several days of expectancy, our students finally met their Dutch partners on Monday 5th. Shyness and anxiety were the dominant feelings. At tea time students from the two countries were introduced by the Portuguese and Dutch teachers although the most outgoing had already ‘recognized’ their partners and started a conversation. The rest of them were really shy due probably to their lack of confidence in speaking English.
Day after day it was visible a closer relationship as they started to create friendship ties and mingle more spontaneously.
The second day was spent in Almada and Costa de Caparica. In spite of the freezing wind we walked through old Almada up to Cristo Rei and could enjoy the wonderful view from there. The afternoon was at the beach picnicking and playing human football. The sun was warm enough to make three crazy Dutch students dive in the cold wavy waters… Despite shivering, they bravely managed to take their first bath of the year!
On the third day we toured Sintra, Cabo da Roca, Guincho and Cascais. Everybody really enjoyed the visit to Quinta da Regaleira. The place is a wonderful combination of several artistic and architectonical styles, from Gothic to Manueline, with a Renaissance touch. Filled with so many magical nooks and details, time wasn’t enough to see everything properly. Before leaving, Portuguese and Dutch students were given quizzes about Portugal and the Netherlands. The Dutch won the contest as they got 13 right questions out of 20 while the “poor” Portuguese only managed to get 7 right … at least they got to know a little bit more about the Netherlands so they “won” cultural knowledge! After having a light lunch we headed to Cabo da Roca, “where the land ends and the sea begins”, as Camões, our Portuguese poet, once wrote. We pulled over for a little while to enjoy the view in the westernmost point of Europe’s mainland. In our way home we still stopped in Boca do Inferno to take some photos.
In the evening we went to a karaoke bar in Fonte da Telha where students and teachers had the chance to show their singing skills (or not!)… Anyway, it was really fun!
Thursday morning was spent in Lisbon. First old Lisbon: we visited St Jorge Castle and downtown. After some shopping there, our cultural tour continued in “modern” Lisbon. We paid a visit to some terrestrial and underwater creatures at Oceanário and had a late lunch at Vasco da Gama shopping centre. After an exhausting day (as we had to travel by public transports and walk a lot) students were still enthusiastic about going out in the evening.
Friday was a normal school day for the Portuguese students. The Dutch had to finish their reports on the exchange experience but had still time to attend some of their partners’ classes. Lunch was served at the students’ bar with sandwiches, pizzas and soft drinks. In the afternoon students had a “salsa” and “merengue” dancing lesson with teacher Joana Silvestre, where they learned and tried the basic steps – Mattijs, you’ve got talent! But the highlight of the day was the superb dinner at school: you cannot imagine the variety of marvelous home-made Portuguese delicacies the parents brought! As a big family, students, teachers and parents had a great time. Itwas really a unique moment. Portuguese parents: you rock!
On Saturday, after a day spent according to the families’ own programme, we had a relaxing farewel dinner at a restaurant, followed by a live music evening at a bar.
Sunday – departure day – hugs, kisses and tears at the airport but the same thought in everyone’s mind: it’s just a month and we will see each other again!
A final word for the Dutch teachers, Inge and Karel: thank you for your cooperation and good mood. It was great to work with you during this rewarding week!
Fernanda Serra and Lurdes de Jesus