How often do you thank the good things you have?
Do you know what things you should be grateful for?
The exercise of knowing how to recognize our privileges should not make us take them for granted. But that's often what we do.
Being healthy, enjoying a good meal, going to the faculty or work every day, or having those you love the most around you, seem to be conditions inherent in our daily lives.
Sounds simple, doesn't it?
Sabrina and Anaís could subvert these acquired concepts, and yet, when we spoke, they seemed to be more positive than most of us.
This is the brief history of Anaís Sumeya Achá Baronet, from Mozambique, and Sabrina Farinha Mendes, whose homeland is South Africa.
What would our students say if we asked them how they were going to experience the Christmas period? That was the excuse to get to know them. Even knowing that Anaís is a Muslim, for her, the concept of Christmas means meeting her family, but without a religious slant.
It is not difficult to imagine Anaís and Sabrina, daughters of tropical lands. If the flights took them at the right time, and if the pandemic did not exist, they would soon be reunited with their family, sharing a wonderful barbecue, perhaps.
Instead, and because they decided to choose the best path to achieve professional success, they accepted giving up the comfort, the affection, the company and accepted to grow up earlier, alone, far away from home and parents.
The Sunday before we published this newsletter, the media announced that the air bridge between Portugal and Mozambique had reopened. I hurried to photograph the news and send it to Anaís, “maybe you're finally going to your parents?”. Her joy was explosive. We just don't know if the news came in time.
Arthur is to blame for her choosing the medical degree. It is a plastic skeleton she received as a gift and to which, every week, another bone, or organ of the human body was added. Sabrina had the task of knowing how to assemble it, step by step. Step by step, she also received a small booklet about that part of the body to be added to the skeleton. She loved to learn and talked about it with her parents and friends. “The human body has always fascinated me and I've always wanted to study Medicine since I was little”, she says.
She is in year 2 of the Integrated Master Degree in Medicine, in Portugal. She came from South Africa with her sister and left her parents there.
I honestly never thought about studying abroad, but when I was in year 12, my father asked me if I would like to study in Portugal and I said yes. I am of Portuguese descent and have returned to my roots. There is more opportunity in Europe and I don't regret my decision. It has been very difficult, especially in the beginning, but in the future it will be worth it.
My Christmas in South Africa remind me of three words: sun, barbecue and swimming pool. In the southern hemisphere, at Christmas time it's summer, so it's not the typical Christmas shown in the movies. We don't have snow or a fire burning.
Over the years, there are fewer people at the table, as many of my family members have emigrated to other countries. My childhood Christmases were spent with about 50 people, nowadays we are all spread around the world.
A lot has changed since I came to Portugal! Mainly my personal growth. I am the baby of the family and when I arrived in Portugal I had to do everything myself, in another language. I developed a lot, I'm more independent. Although I am further away from my parents, I feel closer to them. Thanks to technology, we speak on FaceTime several times a week.
This year, Christmas will be spent in Lisbon with my uncle, aunt and my sister. I am so grateful to have my sister, I don't know what I would do without her! It's sad because it will be the second Christmas without my parents, but I hope that next year everything is ok and I will have the opportunity to return to South Africa.
Being suddenly deprived of taking a flight home made us change all our holiday plans. I haven't seen my parents for over two years and we were going to celebrate my mother's birthday – an exceptional birthday. It was going to be very special for us, but it's all out of our control. I just want my family to be healthy and well.
There have been many changes in my life in recent years and I have had to adapt to the language, culture and university life. In addition to this, we all had to adapt to the “new life” we are living during the pandemic. I contacted Espaço S to better deal with all this and there I am.
My only wish is to see my parents, receive kisses and hugs from them. I miss the affection.
Anaís Sumeya Achá Baronet
In year 3 of the medical degree, Anaís decided to come to Portugal due to the best educational offer. Perhaps the internship she did in Nursing reinforced how she saw others, with compassion and a great desire to help. The choice was courageous as she left her family in Mozambique, towards her greatest dream.
In Mozambique, education is not that good. I chose Medicine because it was always a big dream of mine. I really like helping others and I don't see myself in another professional area. The reason why I continued on the degree, despite all the difficulties, was undoubtedly the support of my parents and the nursing internship that I took in year 1.
As I am a Muslim, we do not celebrate Christmas for its true concept, but because it is family day on 25 December. Still, we have always been invited by our Catholic family to spend supper with them and my childhood memories are the best. We received many gifts, and I remember the warmth of the family, the full table surrounded by countless smiles, and the conversations with cousins. The best part was spending the night diving at the beach or pool, because in Mozambique, the peak of summer is in December. I wish I could go back to those times!
Despite not being Catholic, I have great admiration for the Christmas season. I think it's a magical moment and I'm always in love with the lights, Christmas decorations, typical desserts and everything that characterizes Christmas. I'm always more sensitized at this time because everyone goes “home” and generally I'm always here, away from home. But this year, Santa Claus gave me the best gift, a trip to Mozambique to spend the holidays with my parents. I'm traveling this Monday and my heart is full because it's been a long time since we celebrated the New Year together.
I arrived in Portugal in 2017, I've been here for 4 years and since then a lot has changed. I would say that I gained wings and flew! I left my parents' house very early, I'm an only child so the difficulty was doubled. I came to study and live alone in a distant country and despite having the same official language as my country, I couldn't understand a word because here people speak very fast. The adaptation was the hardest part, I had a lot of difficulty making friends at the Faculty, which says a lot about the person I am today. But despite everything, I grew up a lot and from being a girl, I became a woman.
That's why I registered at Espaço S, because even though it's been 4 years, the difficulties still exist and at a time when I was feeling less well, I sought help and Espaço S helped me a lot.
If I could ask, I wish my parents were eternal and for more Christmases with them!
Thank you for this opportunity.
Merry Christmas :)