1. It’s going to be SO cheap
That is, until you realise that Lisbon is getting really expensive and you’re earning a salary that will last you for about one week. Portugal might be cheaper than Sweden, but it’s still not cheap. When I think of cheap, I think of a country like Uzbekistan or Vietnam. THAT is cheap. Lisbon is cheap if you’re earning a Swedish salary and belieeveee meee, it’s going to take a long time for you to do that if you’re working in Portugal. I remember that month when I thought I was being so good with my money and I was still going minus. Damn those nights in Casa Independente.
2. I’m definitely going to be healthy
Yeah, that wasn’t happening to me. Especially if you’re always going out for wine after work and stuffing your face with pastel de natas. I have no idea how the Portuguese look so damn slim, even if they eat like I don’t know what, but my body couldn’t handle the Mediterranean diet. Especially since I’m a vegetarian and my slim options in restaurants included “pasta with tomato sauce”. I do have to give a shoutout to the vegan restaurants in Lisbon, you were a life saver!
3. Learning Portuguese will be easy
This is probably the biggest lie I repeatedly told myself. I was so motivated in the beginning to learn Portuguese until I realised that it’s way harder than Spanish and everyone speaks good English. Doesn’t help either that the Portuguese in Brazil and Portugal is quite different and I was hanging out with people from both countries who tried to teach me their Portuguese. The only thing I really learnt was “com multibanco” which, to be fair, is quite useful when you’re always paying with card in super markets.
4. The weather is going to be amazing every single day
Except when it rains and those beautiful cobble stone streets that you just love are now your biggest enemy. Just walking for 5 m was like playing a game with death. The weather was beautiful though most of the time I was there, but I was a bit disappointed when it was warmer in Sweden than in Portugal. Maybe it was just my bad luck. I was also surprised by how cold it gets during night, especially in winter time. There’s no isolation so it gets super cold inside the apartments too. I remember that time we heated our oven and sat in the kitchen trying to warm up and we were laughing about our situation, but on the inside I was just thinking that I should write my will if this is the night I pass away.
5. I’m going to be on the beach every single day
Uhhh, yeah. No. The beach is easy to access, but it’s not like you can just walk to it, especially if you live in the city centre in Lisbon. You need to take a bus or train for about 30-40 minutes depending on which beach you go to and who has time for that when they’re working all day long? Instead, I sat drowning in my own sweat in the office, making sweat marks on all the chairs. Not sure if my colleagues appreciated that.
6. Life is going to be so exotic and fun every single day
Okay, maybe I’m guilty of only putting photos of me on the beach or sipping wine on a rooftop bar, but that was actually quite far from my reality. Instead, I worked Monday – Friday from 9-17, I spent 2 hours on the bus to get to work every day, I was constantly pushed by all the tourists in Lx Factory, I visited the beach once per week IF I was lucky and the weather was nice, and the wine I posed with was probably the cheapest because I couldn’t afford better. Did my stomach protest? Yes. Did I continue to chug it down? HELL YES.
Even if I lived abroad in an exotic country (it’s exotic for me, ok), it didn’t mean that my life would just all of a sudden turn into a vacation. I had obligations, work, rent to pay and even worked part time doing some online jobs so I could save up enough money. It definitely wasn’t as glamorous as it might’ve looked like.
7. I’ll learn to surf
HAHA. Moving on.
8. Making friends will be a piece of cake
It wasn’t very difficult to make friends in Lisbon because there’s so many expats and digital nomads there. The problem is that a lot of them leave after a month or so, or stay for just a semester. It might be easy to make short term friends, but long term was way harder. I was lucky to have some local friends that I had met while traveling, but if I didn’t meet them abroad, I’m not sure how easy it would be to make local friends.
9. I’ll never get bored of strolling around Alfama
Alfama still gives me nightmares. It’s one of my favourite neighbourhoods, but it’s also the most touristy one and I don’t know how many times I walked around showing my family and friends this beautiful place that’s been completely run over by tourists. It’s not fun when you’re trying to walk in the really small alleys and you see a big group of Chinese tourists coming your way and you can finally relate to how Simba felt like when he saw the stampede.
10. I’ll get a really nice butt after walking up all those hills
Seriously, where my booty at?! I feel like it just got flatter after living in Lisbon. I walked up and down god knows how many times and my butt never seemed to get fitter. Oh well. Asian genes.