On 6th March 2017 5 students, Metka Šalehar, Katja Obreza, Ksenija Pugelj, Nina Prijatelj and Monika Kovačič, along with our teachers Ms Ana Koračin and Ms Urša Troha went to Braga, Portugal on a student exchange program for five weeks. This project has been enabled by CMEPIUS National Agency within the European project ERASMUS + that allows students from abroad to acquire practical skills, for which they have been training all these years.This is also an interesting way of gaining life experiences, getting to know new cultures and to discover new techniques that can be used as a hairdresser in our country.
Upon arrival at the airport in Porto, there was one of our coordinators waiting for us and he drove us to our flat, where we would spend five weeks. We were amazed by how the apartment looked; it had five rooms, it had a modern look, two bathrooms, a huge living room, a spacious kitchen and two glazed balconies. The apartment was on the fifth floor. At first we unpacked, then we took an afternoon nap.
With our coordinator and guide we agreed that later he could show us around and the salons as well where we would carry out our work experience. We were pleasantly surprised by the throb of the city, where there were a lot of people. We really liked the old part of the city, where we could walk around, do some shopping and in general have some fun.
The next day together with our teachers we took a look at our workplace, because we were assigned three different salons. We were divided into pairs; each pair would be in one location. The pairs were: Katja and Metka, Ksenija and Monika, and in the last salon, Nina was by herself. Our working hours were from 10am to 6pm and we had Saturdays and Sundays off. At the weekends we had guided tours and trips around Braga and nearby locations. Of course, we had enough time for souvenir shopping, cleaning, watching films and resting.
We were very satisfied with the tidiness and cleanliness of the salons and the friendliness of the staff. Everyone tried to make us feel comfortable . At first we had some problems with communicating in English, but we solved all the problems and succesfully communicated.
In Katja’s and Metka’s salon they showed cutting and styling techniques as well as coloring techniques with each other, blow-dry, as well as mandatory manicure nails. It should be mentioned that they weren’t allowed to show customers what they already knew, they could only wash their hair, so they were models to each other.
In Nina’s salon they also had additional services as massage, manicure and others. A lot of emphasis was placed on men’s grooming, trimming beards and also let’s not forget the women’s hairstyles, since the Portuguese women like to have nice hairstyles. A lot of emphasis was also put the in the orderliness of nail manicure. The salon had a lot of customers, because it had a very good location as well as a good reputation. Nina often washed the client’s hair, cleaned the tools, made sure that the bar was clean and tidy, made coffee for customers and served it. It is also the salon for men’s haircut, as well as cutting beards. The dying technique is similar to ours, with the particularity that the head must be shampooed three times to make their hair more lustrous, softer and to destroy all the microbacteria. While watching her mentor working, she was impressed by how he treated costumers and it made her realise that communication and kindness are important key features to the success of the salon.
In a small salon approximately a kilometer away Ksenija and Monika were washing, coloring and blow-drying some customers. This salon had significantly fewer customers, but in quality it wasn’t behind. There they had new manicure techniques, gel nails as well. Among themselves they were making modern hairstyles, coloring individual strands as well as haircutting.
As already mentioned in the beginning, we were able to get to know the vicinity of Braga. We travelled by train to Portugal second city Porto. There was a lot of sightseeing; we saw the cathedral, museums, the oldest fortress, the long bridge over the river Dom Luis Bridge and the old part of the town.
We should also mention the biggest surprise cooked by Nina’s parents, as they came unannounced to the salon where she was working and surprised her. There were a lot of kisses, hugs, and even some tears… Let us mention that Nina was shocked for a long time after, because a few minutes ago she was speaking with her mother on the phone, and she said that it was cloudy in Ljubljana . We were all very surprised when they came, but we were also pleased to show them around.
On Saturday we were invited for a tour to Spain, since we had never been there before. We were very excited. We were driving by bus for about an hour. We must mention that in Spain there are many amazing beaches. Metka and Katja had the courage to swim in the Atlantic Ocean, while the rest of us were at the beach only. We also had a great lunch on the beach. The day was over very fast, and we returned to Portugal pleasantly tired.
Another interesting trip we took was to the city Guimaraes, where we were observing beaches from the cliff.
During the weekdays we were working hard, since everyday we learned something new. We even exchanged as models among us and so we used the knowledge gained in school.
When the time to say goodbye to our coordinators, mentors and others came, it was an extremely hard and sad time, since we got along very well and we got used to them.
We would like to thank our teachers Ms Ana Koračin and Ms Urša Troha for their patience, understanding and everything they have done for us. Without them we would probably have had more problems in the beginning. We would also like to thank CMEPIUS National Agency, which made this incredible experience possible by financing it. We can say that our dreams came true with it. Of course we should also thank all the hairdressing salons that accepted us and gave us new experiences and knowledge that we will be able to use in the future. The only thing we would like to change is that we would have liked to have more possibilities to work individually in the salons, because we would have been given additional experience as hairdressers.
Being in Portugal was an incredible experience which we will never forget.