Post 1: Pre-Departure

My 10 weeks of Portuguese glory are beginning today and I couldn’t be more excited. Besides from the simple fact that I’ve just never been to Portugal, actually working in a foreign country for two months is something few get the opportunity to do. Growing up in an American-Brasilian, bilingual household, I do feel like I’ve been exposed to a variety of cultures and my identity is sort of a hodge-podge of them all. I try to take the best parts from each culture and background I’m exposed to and leave the parts that don’t quite fit in with my values or goals.

I think it goes without saying that my most serious goal is to perfect my Portuguese. Though I grew up speaking Brazilian Portuguese, it was tainted by the 4 years of advanced/AP Spanish I took in high school. Spanish too is a wonderful language but I’m excited to be spending the summer in one of the two major countries of the world that speak Portuguese as their primary language. From what I’ve heard, Lisbon is full of tourists, so employees here will often just begin speaking English with whoever looks like they’re from out of the country. If this is the case, it would be easy for me to default to the language I’m most comfortable with and speak little of the language I came to Portugal to improve. To combat this, I’m going to try to respond to their English greeting with a Portuguese one, to show them that I’m fairly comfortable speaking the language and I want to try to get my point across using that. I also want to make a point of trying to make small talk with employees at cafes or stores, asking them just a question or two that’s not related to what I need (how’s your day going? what’s your favorite part of Lisbon?)

When I come back from this 10-week period, I hope to have shown myself that I can make it on my own in a foreign country. I can buy groceries, travel on the metro, cook, work, and explore using my wits and smarts. I think that would be empowering for me.