Portugal, give me more surprises!

My stay in Portugal is coming to an end. It was going to last eight weeks. Due to various reasons, I have decided to leave Portugal earlier. It also means this is my penultimate blog entry. For summarizing what I have learned here, time will come. Now, I would like to focus on what Portugal surprised me.

First, I was surprised that almost everyone has a pet here. My trips’ photos should present monuments. In the end, they show dogs, cats and other different animals, including birds (that is why you can see a pigeon in the picture). That case is very close to my heart, and due to that, I run an NGO in Poland regarded to help animals also that is why I am vegan. An issue that surprised me the most, in this case, was the fact that even homeless animals (unfortunately, there are a lot of them in Portugal) receive some help from people. They gave some food from local people. Of course, I cannot compare it to living at home, but it wasn’t nothing.

I mentioned being vegan. I started this adventure one year ago, and it’s still going on. When I found out people in Portugal eat a lot of meat and seafood, to be honest, I was a little bit scared. I was afraid of problems eating in restaurants, but… I was shocked I didn’t have to explain to anyone what does mean to be a vegan. Ordering something in most Polish restaurants, I used to explain precisely what does mean “vegan option” – it excludes eggs, milk, yoghurt, cream, honey and also gelatine and animal fat (contrary to appearances, fries are often fried in this type of fat, not vegetable fat). It turned out there wasn’t a need to explain that because, even in non-vegan restaurants, the service understood what I expected.

The most important thing which made me feel comfortable in Portugal was being different doesn’t mean being excluded. What I’m saying about it is tough to be so much different from others because, for example, many people have tattoos here. I come from a small town in Poland so wearing tattoos means being different, and it equals being excluded there. There is a similar situation with piercing. Much more people wear it. But what I love is the fact I didn’t feel any body-shaming here. I didn’t feel so comfortable in my body on the Polish beach.

So, to summarize, I mentioned taking part in the Erasmus+ exchange in Spain and the worst feeling there was that I didn’t suit that. Here, in Portugal, there is quite different. Maybe I don’t understand all the cultural mechanisms, but I think I could try to live here longer. And perhaps, I will suit this environment. So, Portugal, give me more because you don’t have much time for that anymore.