Why did you decide to move abroad?
A few years ago I had the opportunity to visit a friend that had moved to London, and ever since I saw what it was like to live in this amazing city, I just couldn't stop thinking about it. A couple of years later my boyfriend had a job offer to work in London and it just felt like destiny. It was difficult but convinced him to accept and that is how this amazing adventure began.
How did you spend your First Month Abroad?
There is a lot to do when you first arrive in a new country where you intent to live in. My boyfriend started his new job two days after we arrived so I had to do many things on my own, and I confess it was a bit scary.
We were lucky enough to have family in London so we stayed with them, but our first priority still was to find our own place. This was a hard and frustrating process, but thankfully after two weeks we finally moved to our own flat.
At the same time we were dealing with banks, national insurance numbers, getting references, etc...And on top of it all I was applying for jobs and going to interviews. It was an exhausting month, and whenever I feel insecure about something, I look back on these days and remember how strong I really am.
I didn't make any friends until I started my first job here, but I was lucky enough to work with amazing and friendly people with whom I'm still friends with today.
What has surprised you most about living in a foreign country?
How different the lifestyle is. I always though everyone and everything was quite similar within Europe, but the truth is that there are quite a few cultural differences that I did not expect.
For example the pub culture, everyone goes to the pub pretty much every day. Also, in London people tend not to stick to meal times like in Portugal, everyone goes for a meal in a restaurant whenever they feel like, even if it's 4 pm.
Something else that is very different is how much more reserved English people are compared to Portuguese people. It can be harder to make friends with English people, but when you do it's worth it, because they are true friends.
I don't think these differences are bad things though, it is actually something that I really love.
Any cultural/language barrier funny moments?
I was already quite fluent in English when I moved to London, but even after 3 years I still feel a language barrier in a way. I still feel quite drained after a whole day of speaking English, and I still learn new words every day.
But I have to say that most of the time English people find my mistakes quite funny and don't take it as a bad thing at all.
Some English words are very similar to Portuguese words but in fact mean something completely different, and I have found myself in some embarrassing situations, but it's all good in the end!
What are your favorite activities in your new town?
Shopping obviously! London has so many amazing stores that it's quite hard to resist.
But also going to the park, there are so many beautiful parks in London, but I guess my favourite is Richmond Park and Bushy Park.
What advice would you give to tourists visiting your new home town?
If you really want to see the city don't travel by tube, take the bus instead. It may take you longer to get somewhere but you will be able to see the city much better.
And on that note, don't bother paying for the touristic bus services, use the regular bus and you will still be able to see everything.
And take advantage of the museums, they are free!
What is the one MUST SEE?
Camden Town. A lot of people don't know about it when they first visit London or just leave it for last in case they have time for it. But I love it there, it is so different and has such a good vibe. Also the market is amazing and you can buy souvenirs or even have an affordable tasty dinner.
What do you miss most about home?
Friends and family obviously. But besides that, the food! I know there are so many amazing restaurants in London, but there is no food like the Portuguese food!
I'm not sure. I will probably go back to Portugal eventually, but not yet. I would also love to go live in another country before I go back, maybe the Netherlands, but who knows? Right now I'm happy here!