Change isn’t easy. Even when you believe it to be for the better. For me, leaving the country or packing my whole life in a suitcase wasn’t the biggest challenge – I have done it once before, moving from Lithuania to study in London. I think the most daring part is uncertainty. Is it worth leaving my life as I know it behind – photography job, friends, walks by the Regent’s canal to Broadway Market? What is a Northerner like me going to do in the South? Are five words I know in Portuguese enough to say I live here? It took me less than a week to answer those questions.
The first evening in Lisbon we found ourselves in an art exhibition opening in the city centre, with an invitation from one of our new clients participating in the event. Beautiful space with a view to Lisbon’s old town and warm evening breeze through wide open windows made me feel calm and warm, despite dragging a ton-weighing suitcase up the hill just few hours ago. With a glass of wine in hand, we got talking to the guests.
The room was small but somehow managed to fit the whole world inside. We met people from variety of countries sharing ideas and stories about what brought them to Lisbon. It was inspiring, even though I knew exactly why I was here – I believe in our project and, of course, the sun and the food. I mean, have you tried Pastel de Nata?
Talking of which. Second day started with Pastel de Nata baking class. The pastry chef running the bakery told us the amazing history of traditional Portuguese pastry and shared the secrets and techniques refined by his family for generations. Secrets are meant to be kept quiet, I thought. ‘We are here to share’ – said the chef to me and I suddenly grasped the difference between the North and the South.
The city of Lisbon allows itself to be discovered. It doesn’t hide its unique differences, most beautiful places or cultural nuances. It is hard to define where my holiday ends and the actual living begins – first trip to Continente to get toilet paper or meeting a bunch of nomads and ending up in the most western point of continental Europe watching the sunset? Sure, day spent at the beach watching young surfers learning to balance themselves on the boards feels like a holiday. However, soon I understood that this is the way of life here. You can spend the morning catching the waves and the day writing an article about your experience moving to Lisbon.
The flight from London to Lisbon may have felt like forever but making myself at home took no time at all. I have the opportunity to continue doing things I love and find new exciting activities while discovering Portugal and its culture. Even though my vocabulary is now 10-word strong, I can’t wait to start the Portuguese language course. It’s not a city of stray dogs looking for a place to crash. It’s a land of adventurers, idealists and individuals who respect and admire Portuguese culture. And even though Lisbon may have fit the whole world inside itself, there is still space for me.