A Lacobrigense teenager describes growing up in her home town.

WORDS Inês Simmonds

My name is Inês and I’m 18 years old. I’m from Lagos and I have lived here all my life. I love my hometown and I believe it is one of the best places to grow up as a teenager. It is a rather beautiful, calm and peaceful town, with a very diverse community and lots of young people wandering around. 

As Lagos is a multicultural society, there are a lot of mixed families such as mine. My mother is Portuguese and my father is English, so since I was born, I have been immersed in different habits, traditions and customs, and that has made my life more interesting, funnier and richer. 

Portuguese is my first language and English my second. I speak both languages fluently from an early age although, when I was little, I used to say very funny things because I mixed the languages. For example, I used to ask my mother if I could have some “Pão com cheese”. I believe I’m very fortunate to have had the chance of learning both languages in a mixed environment. 

Knowing two cultures well and speaking both languages, not only enriches you personally and culturally because you have the opportunity to interact with people from different nationalities, but it also makes you more tolerant, understanding and respectful. For instance, by understanding and accepting different cultures, I think I am more likely to feel comfortable among different people and more included. Besides, it is a rich resource of alternative ideas for how to do things. I feel it has made me more adventurous and willing to travel the world.

Throughout my teen years, I had a great time in Lagos. I did many different things; I attended Academia de Música de Lagos for 10 years, where I learnt to play the violin with two great teachers; ProfessorJoão Cunha and Professora Oksana Temniakova. We used to play at concerts and take part in competitions (stressful but amusing and very rewarding) and I’m very thankful for all they did for me. 

I learnt to dance at Associação de Dança de Lagos. I have attended the association for 13 years and some teachers there and many other ballerinas are just like family to me. I started at the age of five, with Professora Marina Khametova and Professora Ljiljana da Silva, and I must say I’m very thankful for all they did for me. ADL gave me the opportunity to take part in lots of shows and competitions in Portugal and abroad, winning many prizes. This allowed me to get to know the culture and music from different countries and communities, therefore, allowing me to develop my cultural skills and enrich my cultural background. It wasn’t easy many times; too much practice, too many hours, dealing with disappointments, frustration and unfulfilled expectations, etc. Nevertheless, it was worth every minute!

I have just finished my secondary studies and next September I will leave Lagos to go to university. Honestly, I think it is the right time to go. When you turn 18, Lagos becomes a bit small for you, you need more, you feel you need to get to know different places and realities and, unfortunately, I don’t think there is much for a young adult to do here. I will start a new phase in my life. “Scary? Yes!”, but I feel I have grown in a safe place that has given me the right tools to go and explore the world. And as my mother always says: “Lagos is a wonderful place for raising kids, it has got everything, but at the age of 18, you must go, open your wings and fly, and come back a few years later, to have your own family and live in a welcoming and safe community.”