A Portuguese never ending adjustment to the UK

When you speak to a Portuguese in the UK, 3 topics will come up:

  • How great our weather is: you could never fully comprehend the impact of 300 days of sun. “Boiling” is quality of life. Fair point to both our nations, we both like to talk about the weather.
  • How amazing our food is: we actually feel sorry for 95% of the population that has been deprived from our culinary goods. You have not lived! Except if you are a vegetarian, then we have nothing for you.
  • How impressive our landscape and history are, and we will tell you all about how our small nation has influenced the world and how we have taught the British to drink tea.
A normal winter day in Lisbon!

Some other differences and remarks I have found along the way:

  • We work to live, British live to work. Or some people say. Despite Portuguese low salaries, we appreciate life to the fullest. Surprisingly, statistics say portuguese work more hours too… of course these statistics probably include all the time we spend chatting about football and the weather while having our 5 daily espresso work breaks. Doesn’t mean we are less productive, we just sense time differently. Since I came to the UK, I do live to work and more hours too… is this what happens when you migrate?
  • There is no such thing as “it’s boiling”! C’mon, heatwave with 27Cº? Do I need to say more?


  • No driving latin fever. How I miss calling people names and judge heavily others driving skills! For us, orange means “speed up before it turns red”. Red means “You have 2 seconds to go”. Speed limits to us are more like recommendations. Learned the hard they are not in the UK! Had to attend an extremely boring speed awareness course within my first 4 months here. The crime: I was driving 35mph instead of 30… The lesson effect lasted exactly 10 minutes.
  • Fish and chips is not food! – When we speak how amazing our fish is, don’t try to empathize by saying you have Fish and Chips… it is not comparable at all! Is like telling an Italian that Pizza Hut is the best pizza in the world, or to serve you microwaved tea. We have 1000 ways to cook codfish, and only 2 include chips. We still have all the remaining dozens of fish and sea food cooked in every imaginable possible way.
Portuguese version of fish and “chips”
  • Banter – I still don’t get it. Or maybe this post is a proof I’m getting it now? (some people took offense with this post, which means I’m learning the skill). We make fun of our close friends, and comment on people’s lives, but we know exactly that we are joking. Here I never know if people are serious or not. Strange British humour!
  • Night out – This deserves a whole post, but here is a summary of my Swansea experience:
    • Portugal: Dinner starts at 9pm. At midnight, after a large meal with proper food, a few beers and a coffee, we go bar hopping until 2am, have a few beers on the street (yes in the open), followed by disco until 6am. For this, we bring extra clothing because it’s cold outside.
    • UK: Dinner at 8pm is late. Most places stop serving food at this time. The girls are hugging themselves in short summer dresses and open sandals with no coats (with 3ºC), walking in zigzags down the street. No one drinks outside because it is illegal. Drink as fast and as much as you can seems to be the motto. Night ends at midnight. At 1am only a few remaining souls are left in the pub, mostly those who are unable to walk home.

I have to admire though, the strange comfort Britains have from beans on toast for breakfast, horrible weather, package holidays (Portugal will always welcome you in our beautiful Algarve) and little dogs. Also, I have to say I was happily surprised by the warmth of the welsh! Very nice folks with awesome welsh cakes!

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