There are a certain number of things you know you will miss, when you decide to leave your homeland for some other country: your family, your friends, your house, your garden or even your favorite coffee shop. But nothing prepared me for the odd things I miss about living in Portugal.
Before moving to Switzerland, I was already an expatriate in my native nation. Since I was a little girl growing up in the Azores I remember dreaming about the world “outside” the island and all its wonders. After high school, I finally moved to the mainland to study journalism and, some years later, adopted Lisbon as my city.
Short-story version: by the time of my relocation to Heidi’s country I was used to being away from most things people discover they miss when they undertake such a big change in their lives: my parents, some of my oldest friends, my cat and the narrow streets and the beautiful beaches of my childhood. So this was going to be easy for me, I believed. After all I was already a nomadic soul.
But I was wrong. Two and a half years later, here are five odd things I never thought I would miss about living in Portugal, but that I really do:
#1 Lisbon’s light
And how I truly miss Lisbon’s light! Living in Lisbon, you get used to all this light, a light that never fades regardless of the seasons.
In Zurich the winters are painfully long and grey, with sometimes several weeks passing by before you can see the sky again. Fortunately there’s swiss chocolate and glühwein (the traditional mulled wine) to help you fight the winter blues.
#2 Reading the newspaper (and understanding every word of it)
Living in Portugal, one of my favorite rituals was waking up late on a Sunday morning, buying the newspaper and reading it during coffee. Now, I can’t read the local newspaper without a dictionary by my side. I keep up with the news from Portugal online, but it’s just not the same thing.
#3 Listening to a strangers’ conversation on the train
I know that’s a very odd thing to miss, but that’s one of the things I took for granted when living in Portugal.
Now, every time I try to do this, I feel I’m taking a German exam and failing badly.
On the other hand, I must concede that chatting with my boyfriend in our secret language (aka Portuguese), without worrying who’s listening what, does come in handy sometimes.
#4 Portuguese pastry
I’m a vegetarian, so you definitely won’t hear me cry for a cod dish or a portuguese stew.
But if there’s one thing I miss about living in Portugal it’s the pastry. And not only the famous “Pastel de Nata”, but all the pastry. Portuguese pastry shops and bakeries have no competition in Switzerland.
Or at least I haven’t found it yet.
#5 Owning a washing machine
Yes, you read me right. That’s probably one of the oddest things I miss about living in Portugal.
I know that sharing a laundry room with your neighbors is something normal in many countries, but in Portugal everyone owns a washing machine. And I mean literally everyone! Not only that, but your washing machine is always inside your house, avoiding that you have to wash your dirty clothes under the gaze of your neighbors.
In Switzerland, a large number of apartment buildings still have one or two shared laundries in the basement with a washing day assigned to each tenant. Other buildings have a washing machine for each tenant located in the basement or, if you are lucky enough, inside your own apartment.
Let’s just say it’s not the most civilized trait of Switzerland.
So there you have it: the five most surprising things I miss about living in Portugal. And to make things even more strange, now there are also things I miss about Switzerland when I’m back in Portugal for a visit. But that’s for a different post.
Are you an expat? What’s the oddest thing you miss about your native country? Share in the comments section below!
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