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.
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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?

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  • 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.
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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!

Second: Chasing tails and catching tales

Something I have been questioning and obsessed about since 2010, maybe earlier. What am I supposed to do with my life? How will I make my life matter?

I asked this question to numerous people in the past years, and everyone has a prompt answer: create a company and become a millionaire, have a safe family, save dogs, save whales, save sharks, save the reef, dive the world, become a yoga teacher, travel the world, live off the grid, be an accountant, be a lawyer, be a teacher, be a psychologist, sleep with as many women as possible, have as many kids as possible, become a famous actor, teach handstands for a living, run an NGO, watch Benfica play…

I wanna be part of some of these (uuu got you thinking now? Go Benfica!!!), but none resonates with whatever is my life goal. I suffer from severe distraction and procrastination and at the same time I dream big, and some say I’m an idealist. Not sure what that means.

Purpose-of-life

People ask me constantly what is my life plan. It is very hard for everyone to understand that I do not have one. It is extremely hard for me to understand people that do know exactly where they want to be and how to get there.

My short history on this planet has presented me with constant unexpected change (not complaining). Perhaps the fact that I do not know what I want, allows me to be open to every possibility, which contributes further to not knowing what I want.

This blog reflects exactly that, no specific plan, no intentions with it, just make sense out of nonsense, and program synapses to a specific direction, whatever that may be.

Meanwhile, I know what my life purpose is not:

  • Not to be one more lost in the crowd,
  • No specifically be a mother,
  • Fame is something that scares the hell out of me

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Tales I once believed to be building:

  • Wildlife photographer: National Geographic or BBC. I’m still amazed and inspired by how they capture those unbelievable images.
  • Criminal profiler – Once I thought I found out who Jack the Ripper really was. Still fascinated by twisted minds and underlying human motivation for good and bad.
  • Writer – Poet, storyteller and opinion writer – It is hard for me to make sense of my own mind, imagine translated into words (you can probably guess this by now)! Will read more Fernando Pessoa…
  • Freediving Instructor – or just tag sharks for a living
  • HR superstar in developing teams – my current job is proving me I have a long road ahead
  • Social Entrepreneur (I still want this one, by the way! Have many ideas!!) – save the world and all that jazz.

So here I am, chasing my own tail…

After achieving his biggest accomplishment, Fido struggled to find a new sense of purpose to his life.

First, “rant it out”

Totally out of a lapse. This is how this started… and from a desperate need to rant about life before I make sense of it.

Came out from work after a 13 hour shift, in a job where time is speed up and pumped with adrenaline. The day ends before you realize it. My days have been a blur between learning how to navigate this world, remember to call my parents, try to build a career in the fastest growing company in the world, and create a start-up on my “free time” with a business partner that has a rhythm as fast as his dream sports car (which is not yet invented, I’m sure). Honestly, the man should design a new scale to measure productivity.

In the middle, my best friends sends me a message worrying I may burnout, that I do not look healthy… Really?

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The last time I had sun it was exactly for 5 brief minutes this Sunday, before the microclimate ate away that precious star. I was sitting by my window with my laptop open, recharging energy like a thirsty solar panel… Have I mentioned that I live in Swansea? It is not enough to come out from the sunniest country in Europe to the UK, but I had to land on the wettest shore of this Island! Of course I do not look healthy, this is the palest I’ve been in my life. Fair skin, they call it, I don’t see any fairness in this.

Amongst the storm, I swirl in a tornado of reality checks: my leads and my manager counterpart tell me the clock is ticking, I should find a man and have kids… I’m almost 32… not getting any younger… It will be difficult after… and some other details I deliberately chosen to erase from my bruised mind (Thank you guys… have you been talking to my mum?). And finally, my sister who I love to death very sweetly encourages me telling me “I will collect what I am planting”.

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My history with plants is disastrous. Keeping a simple life form alive (let alone healthy… I’m talking about cactus) is only comparable to my current pale unhealthy look. I’m pretty sure I won’t be collecting any super power own-grown plant, unless I invent some life form on the surface that can live without light… Hmm is this the idea that will launch me as a self-made entrepreneur? Will me new company save me?

This felt good. I hope I can sleep now.