Felicitas Pensch testimony
“Hello, my name is Felicitas, I am a 22 -year-old student from Austria. I finished my bachelor’s degree in landscape architecture last autumn and was later struggling to find the motivation and inspiration for my master´s degree. Feeling quite unsure about further studies, I joined the program of Plantar uma Árvore in February and stayed for two months. When I was leaving my home country, we were in one of the many lockdowns and due to the season, it was cold and dark. Arriving in Portugal in our small village Afonsim I felt kind of relieved and freed from my worries. I really enjoyed living in such a calm place and liked the surrounding area. I also loved watching the cows walk by our doorstep every morning and waking up to sheep running around in our garden (yes, I grew up in a city). During my stay we were mostly planting trees and controlling invasive species. Although I had already learned a lot about plants and different environments during my studies, our coordinator Gil taught me so much not only about planting, but also about nature conservation and forestry. Furthermore, I learned from the people I lived with. We were having lots of discussions about different topics or our plans for the future while enjoying our time together. I felt very inspired by their passion for nature conservation, feminism, sustainability and other topics concerning their lives.
Besides working in Afonsim, we got the opportunity to join a volunteering camp at the Açores islands. There we explored the island and worked together with volunteers from different islands. It was an amazing experience and I think we all took home a lot of great memories and even more knowledge about the fascinating environment of the island.
All in all, I learned a lot more than expected, got to meet wonderful people, and enjoyed our life in the countryside next to cows and dogs. I am truly thankful for my time in Portugal and wouldn’t want to miss a second of it!”