From the UK to Portugal: An Englishman in Lisbon
My name’s Kev Harrison, I’m 37 and a bit of a wanderer, having lived in about 7 cities in the UK, before moving to Turkey, Poland and now Portugal, where I’m planning to stay put, not least of all because I’m marrying a Portuguese lady this coming autumn! I’m a teacher and also write in my free time, not just my blog but also fiction. I had a couple of bits published last year, so this year’s plan is to kick on and get more stuff in print!
1. Why did you move abroad?
I’d been working as a data analyst for about 9 years in various companies and I had begun to find the corporate life to be really depressing. I read a book (Dance, Dance, Dance, by Haruki Murakami) in which the protagonist talks about his job being like shoveling snow. You keep on doing it but it’s the same every time and you never seem to get anywhere. It really resonated with me and I decided I needed a dramatic change.
2. How do you make a living?
I teach English as a foreign language. I work in a great school, with really good support and I think we make a real difference to people, so it’s extremely satisfying.
3. How often do you communicate with home and how?
My best friends I keep in touch with on whatsapp, facebook and I try to visit them once a year. They try to see me annually, too. I’m not that close to my family, but I try to see my sister and her husband when I can.
4. What's your favorite thing about being an expat in Portugal?
The best thing about being an expat in Portugal is probably the weather. Even on the days when you don’t really want to get up for work, if the sun is shining, it makes a huge difference. You can add to that that Portugal is a net exporter of food, so when you eat here, everything tends to be more local, fresher and as such, more delicious.
5. What’s the worst thing about being an expat in Portugal?
I don’t have to deal with it often, but bureaucracy is probably my pet hate. Everything takes forever and is organized in what appears to be the very worst possible way.
6. What do you miss most?
Decent beer (though that’s improving here), my friends, a really hot curry!
7. What did you do to meet people and integrate in your new home?
At the beginning, I actually joined a lot of meet up groups, indulging in my favourite hobbies, creative writing, drama, food related stuff. It was a great way to make friends.
8. What custom/ habits do you find most strange about your adopted culture?
Lateness, as a Brit, punctuality is quite important for me. In Portugal, you’re on time if you’re fifteen minutes late!
9. What is a myth about your adopted country?
People are lazy – they really aren’t. Many of my students work two jobs and the younger ones commit themselves to huge amounts of homework and study time.
10. Is the cost of living higher or lower than the last country you lived in and how has that made a difference in your life?
The cost of living is about 30% higher here than in Poland, where I lived before, but my salary is about 100% higher, so I definitely feel a lot more comfortable here. It was one of the primary reasons for moving.
11. What advice would you give other expats?
See as much as you can of a place while you’re there. I saw such a lot of Poland in my three years, but many of my colleagues barely travelled at all and end up with only a microscopic view of one tiny place
12. When and why did you start your blog?
I started it in 2014, as an accompaniment to another blog I write about travelling. It’s been quite popular since and it’s a good way for me to do something I love – writing – and share information about this great place that I live in.
Kev's blog, An Englishman in Lisbon
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