Are you considering the idea of moving to Portugal and its exciting cities are calling your attention?
Well, we can completely understand why! Portugal’s popularity has grown so much during the past years, and more and more people are attracted to this country to start a new experience.
You must have seen countless pictures of the yellow tram of Lisbon, and you have probably heard a lot about the delicious Porto wine. However, you might want to discover a little bit more about this small but diverse country, before enjoying the best experience as an Au Pair
In 2018 I spent six months in Lisbon, one of the most interesting cities that I have ever visited, and I enjoyed every day of my stay.
However, there were a few topics on which I couldn't find much information, and a couple of things that I would have liked to know before moving there.
Portuguese people are open and welcoming
The first thing you need to know is that Portugal is an open and welcoming country, and it is becoming more and more international: big cities, such as Lisbon and Porto, are attracting ever more young foreigners every year. Moreover, Portugal's capital is ranked third in InterNations'
list of The Best (& Worst) Cities for Expats in 2020
, also due to its great success among digital nomads.
In these dynamic and vibrant cities, it will not be difficult to make new friends
. Furthermore, Portuguese people are sociable and will attempt an approach in the most diverse situations, such as waiting for the bus, going grocery shopping or simply taking a walk in the park. Moreover, they are always ready to speak English. From my personal experience, I can say that Portuguese people have a very good level of English, so it will not be a problem to communicate with them if your Portuguese is not good yet: they perfectly know that their language can be really challenging for foreigners in the beginning.
Portugal VS Spain
About the language, repeat out loud: «Portugal is not Spain. In Portugal, people do not speak Spanish!». Well, they might, but it is not their native language. For this reason, even though most of them will always try to make you feel comfortable by speaking English, you should never assume that they can speak Spanish.
Spain and Portugal are two very distinct countries: although they share a common history and their languages are very close to each other, the two countries should never be confused!
Portugal became an independent State long before Spain did, and Portuguese people are proud of their history and culture. Even though the two countries get along perfectly today, it is always best to avoid saying gracias when buying a Pastel de Nata!
Food for all tastes
Speaking of which, the food
in Portugal is delicious! Of course, each city has its own specialities, but what they all have in common is that you can eat well basically everywhere. Overlooking the ocean, most Portuguese recipes are based on fish: seafood, sardines and obviously the famous Bacalhau
If you follow a vegetarian or vegan diet, trying some typical dishes could turn out to be slightly complicated. However, in big cities, the number of restaurants offering meatless or dairy-free options has been increasing lately. Also, remember that you should not be afraid to tell your Host Family about your food preferences.
You probably already know it: Portuguese weather is considered one of the best in Europe. It has on average 300 sunny days a year, but what you might not expect is its high humidity. You might think now "well, since it's overlooking the ocean it's not exactly a surprise", but it definitely is for a lot of expats.
I spent a winter in Lisbon and let me tell you that when December arrived – despite the beautiful sunny days – the humidity and cold hit, and I was unprepared. The main reason is that Portuguese houses really often are not provided with a central heating system, which might be annoying during certain days. So, if you are planning to spend the wintertime in Portugal, be sure to bring some warm clothes and do not underestimate the humidity!
Portugal has it all!
Being an Au Pair and living abroad is an amazing experience for many aspects, one of these is the chance to travel
! While living in Portugal you might want to know your host country better and discover all the spectacular places you have heard about.
Portugal is a rich country in terms of beautiful places to visit: breathtaking landscapes, pristine coasts, natural reserves and cities steeped in history, Portugal really has it all and meets everyone’s taste.
Moreover, being relatively small, travelling is smooth and cheap. If you would like to enjoy some company, I recommend you bus or carpool platforms such as Flixbus and Blablacar.
If you like to discover ancient cities and monuments, Porto and Lisbon will surely satisfy you: the famous Belém tower, the amazing bookshop Livraria Lello and the St. Jorge Castle are wonderful places to visit.
If you are an adventurous person who likes to be in contact with nature, you will be spoiled for choice.
Personally, I recommend you spend some of your vacation in the Azores Islands: they are part of the Portuguese territory located in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, and I guarantee that once you get there you will remain breathless.
Finally, if you’re a beach person, you’ve just found paradise! Portugal’s beaches are sensational and one of the favorite destinations for surfers from around the world.
Now that you are aware of what you need to know before moving to Portugal you can finally prepare for your departure.