Thursday, 17 May 2012

New Year, New Me?

Well its certainly been awhile since I last wrote a post. I took a break because I was starting to feel that it was quite "emo" and in a way self indulgent to share my thoughts online. However, during the time away I kept thinking about my blog, and wanting to write. There have been moments, experiences etc that I have wanted to share. And people may regard my posts as seeking attention but for me its an outlet. A type of catharsis perhaps. It´s been tough not being able to talk to people who speak English fluently on a daily basis, and writing really allows me to express my feelings. I now realise that sharing is a good thing. Reading other people´s blogs has shown me that I am not alone in my thoughts. Anyway, whats the point of having this wonderful piece of technology if we don´t share? The internet has truly given us a way to communicate with people from all over the world which was never so easily possible before.That, I am embracing.

So I´m back. Writing my thoughts aloud. And the title of this post is what I have been contemplating recently. Since the New Year started and I am a year older, I have been wondering if I have changed, and do I feel different? You know, with moving abroad and all. Have I matured? Have I learnt anything new? Well, I´d have to answer Yes and No. I definitely feel I have learnt new things, learnt about others, learnt about life, but that´s not just a result of living abroad...I feel that just comes naturally, wherever you are. But do I think I have matured? Not really.. I had been stuck in a bubble of blissful ignorance that there was a lot of time ahead of me, that good things would come. I had been living like a student, not spending my money wisely, not making correct decisions... To think that I am 26 years old and most of my old school colleagues are married and with babies really scares me. I don´t think I´m ready for all that crazyness, for all that maturity, for all that responsibility. I´m still figuring out who I am, what I want in life. I feel a need to acomplish something...whether it´s reach the highest grade in piano playing, winning competitions in swimming, speaking fluently in Portuguese... I have a constant feeling of inadequacy.. that I have to prove myself. But to who? Myself? My family? My friends? My boyfriend? I honestly don´t know... I just feel that nothing I do is good enough. I guess I am the uber perfectionist...never really happy... And what a horrible way to live right?

And since the New Year started I have been worrying so much. Luckily for me, my Mum has been so supportive of me, so understanding of my moods, so patient with my 2 hour phone calls going round and round in circles.."what should I do mum? should I be a psychologist? should I be an athlete? should I be a teacher? should I have kids? should I move back to England? am I selfish? should I just give up?"...And now I lie awake at night thinking that time is running away, that I have to make the right decisions now. And I have put it off incase I make the wrong decision. I guess it all just boils down to intrinsic happiness... real happiness cannot survive on only extrinsic happiness...I have to figure out what will really make me happy. Because isn´t that what life is all about?

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

The grass is always greener on the other side?

Being the over analytical person that I am, I find myself pondering this saying. And I used to think it was true... I think it´s human nature to always want what we don´t have. For some reason we seemed programmed to never be content with what we have....blondes want to be brunettes, brunettes want to be blondes, athletes want to be normal, normal people want to be athletes, those with the perfect partner find themselves wanting someone else...okay okay, I am completely over generalising...but I do know that these thoughts are highly common. In our world of over sexualisation, materialism, and "life is too shor"t analogies, we can find ourselves questioning if we are really happy...would I be happier with whiter teeth, would I be happier if I had a partner who washed the dishes, would I be happier if I travelled...blah blah blah...and sometimes I just sit there thinking, people should try to be happier with what they have. Of course it´s wonderful to have ambition, hopes, dreams...but we don´t need to be in a rush to fulfil them... we don´t need to have the latest gadget, we don´t need to have travelled the world before we are 29...what we NEED to do is remember the important things in life...our family, our friends...the ones we hold dearest in our lives...those who remain there throughout our ups and downs, throughout our crazy thoughts, throughout our hopes and desires... the end of the day...does travelling the world really mean anything if you have no one to share it with? Our obsessions can consume us, and we can lose the paitence of those closest to us, because even the most caring loved one can grow tired of being ignored or overlooked. You could spend years focusing on all the tiny "bad" points in a partner and push them away, when in fact they were your soulmate and you were just looking for something that doesnt exist...because remember...perfection does not exist. We all have flaws..that´s what makes us human...but those who really love you, see those flaws as special entities...for example Tomás always laughs at me when I am "mad" at him for no real reason..because I make ridiculous statements in the heat of the moment, and instead of being annoyed with me, he knows me..he knows I don´t mean it and I´m just being stupid..instead he loves me for me... so, anyway, I´m just thinking aloud as the new year comes closer, I find myself thinking about the future and reminding myself of the things that are really important.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Life is like a box of chocolates... never know what you´re gonna get!!! So true...

And those of you who follow politics or indeed just read a newspaper, will know that life isn´t rosy here in Portugal... and from the horses mouth, I can tell you it´s tough. People I know are having cuts made to their salaries, struggling to find a job, and if you don´t have a degree, well you might as well be homeless or live with your parents forever as you won´t find a job that pays enough. Tomás for example, is paid pretty much the minium wage here (just..), which unbelievably is MUCH lower than our minimum wage in the UK. And his job requires long, boring, tedious, hard working hours. :(

And you know, sometimes I sit here and think..what the hell am I doing?? We could be in England, and I could be earning over 24K a year because I´m a "graduate" and that´s my "given" right, having studied for over 5 years...but nope, I´m struggling in the most recession hit country in Europe...and why? Well... all I can say is I just love it here! The way of life..everything.. And at the moment, my life isn´t about money. It´s about experiences. I´m learning a new language for free basically through absorption, I live near the beach, I´m meeting new and interesting people everyday, I´m experiecning a new culture and appreciating life. It would be far too easy to move back to England...and of course I miss my family and friends, but at the moment, I made the decision to come here, so I´ve got to stick at it, through thick and thin-..because the heart wants what the heart wants right? Sometimes we can´t explain why we feel a certain way that we do..and for me...I really love living here..there´s just something about this place...even from the second I landed at the airport in April last year...I just knew...this place was wonderful and I wanted to live here. But of course, I´m not some point, I will need to start thinking about a career and saving and make some hard decisions etc.. but until that time comes, I´m making the most of everyday :)

Sunday, 4 December 2011

The red or the blue pill?

Well, I didn´t really have a choice, I had to take the "blue pill"... which as the symbology would have us believe is "blissful ignorance" instead of "embracing the painful truth" option with the red pill. Well, if taking the blue pill allows me to "blissfully ignore" my allergy symptoms, then fill me up! Haha. But no, seriously, since I opened the packet of pills the doctor gave me and saw it was blue, it reminded me of many of lifes dichotomies.

I´ve always been told I live in a "black and white" world, with no grey area, and if I were to live in the "grey" area, I´d be alot happier. But I ask myself, how many people live in the "grey area"? According to Freidman and Rosenham (1950) there are only two types of personality, A and B. Type A people are generally high strung, stressed and more likely to have a heart attack, and Type B people are more relaxed and well, the opposite of Type A. But is personality that simple? You´re either one type or another? Should we subscribe to the generalistic thinking that there is only good or bad, pretty or ugly, smart or dumb?

Of course, it´s impossible to try to categorise things into two boxes...things in life are much more complex. But it does challenge the conception that things CAN be so easily categorised. Like when someone makes a judgement of you upon meeting.."oh she´s a bitch".. So, that´s that? Done. In the bitch box she goes. But can that person be wrong? Can we misjudge people? Can people change? Can a bitch exist within an angel?
Either way, these questions make for great discussion... and personally, I´m always spinning around my own mind, wondering who I am. And I guess, figuratively speaking, I´m trying to put myself in a box. But I can´t find the right one... I always seem to be asking myself, am I trying to be a certain "type" of person for myself, or for other people?

And it´s really hard living like this. I´m constantly being bombarded in the media with slogans like... "don´t have regrets", "live your dreams", "life is short" .. blah blah blah... but what is my dream? What am I supposed to do in life? I guess it just boils back down to the red or blue pill... carry on in blissful ignorance, or face the painful truth??

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Conquering demons

Well today was a major achievement for me. I decided to stop sitting around feeling sorry for myself while Tomás was at work and walked over to the doctors surgery. Anyone who knows me, knows I have a HUGE fear of failure complex... I avoid situations where there is even the smallest chance of failure and/or subsequent embarrasement etc etc...And as you can imagine, this has resulted in a pretty reclusive and dependent lifestyle. I would only go somewhere if I had Tomás or a friend with me to do all the talking! Pretty sad I know. But seriously, I have had such a huge fear of making a twat of myself! And when I do something wrong or fail or am embarrassed, I go a really deep shade of scarlet red... it´s hard to hide and then it makes me feel like a 5 year.. not excatly good for my "Grown up English teacher" personna I have been trying to carve for myself!!!

Well, anyway, I´ve been feeling a tad shitty for almost 4 weeks... I put it down to job stress and my pretty pathetic immune system, but then recently I was starting to wonder if I had an allergy to Mika.. I have had itchy eyes, coughing, sneezing really hard, headaches... so anyway today was the last straw... I just had to go down there!! And I´m going to be honest... I was really nervous!! So stupid I know... but my biggest worry was not understanding what anyone would say back to me and standing there like a moron not knowing what to do. And really, this worry has been completely irrational.. I know.. I have taken lots of tests in Portuguese, so I know my level of understanding is good, but it´s been hard to convince myself mentally. Again, my mind has got in the way of my success in life!

And how did it go? Surprisingly well!! I had to speak to two women at reception and I just went with the flow, asking if it was possible to see a doctor. I then chatted to them about England, being an English teacher, etc etc and they told me I spoke excellently and shouldn´t be so shy. I was so surprised that I understood everything they said! And I was automatically thinking and answering in Portuguese. I´m so happy with my progress because I´ve never had lessons. Everything I´ve learnt has been through reading books, talking to Portuguese people and watching TV. And today showed me that I´ve absorbed more than I knew I had! Even the doctor told me she was very impressed as many foreigners just refuse to try and learn the language and speak in English to her.

So you can imagine me after that... I was on a bloody high!! I was like, fuck yeah! I can anything now! lool. So what did I do?? I went straight home, got Mika and took her to the Park hoping to see other dog owners to talk to!!! But to my dismay, no one was there! sniff sniff :( ah well, tomorrow I´ll go again!! And now I have no excuses about doing things myself here in Portugal.. I CAN speak Portuguese! I just have to do it! No excuses! Hmm maybe that should be my next tattoo! Lol. :)

Saturday, 26 November 2011

A vida em Portugal (Life in Portugal)

So it´s been almost 1 year since I decided to uproot myself from sleepy Hoddesdon and enter the unknown here in Portugal. And there´s been some amazing highs, but also some pretty shit lows. But that´s the rollercoaster of life I guess. It´s never plain sailing! But all in all, I love living here and I´m so glad I took a risk.

Although my job situation has been a little shaky, things are getting a bit better. I really enjoy teaching and find it so rewarding to see my students improving and having fun learning. I would have never seen myself as an English Teacher but I think it´s something that works well with my personality and my strengths. Travelling around alot can be tiresome, but I just sometimes remind myself to stop and look at where I am. I´m working in one of the most beautiful cities in the world, right by the sea, in the sunshine...

Now, I just make sure I have my camera with me so I can capture some of the amazing things I see! And believe me, I see some seriously silly things today... I was waiting for my boat in Cais do Sodré to go back home and was doing my usual "people watching" (sunglasses work very well in this situation to disguise my nosey glare!) when I spotted such a cute old couple. And when I say old, I mean old.. think like 80 odd. And I had to smile to myself because the old guy, bless him, had bright white converse trainers on, tight blue jeans, a bomber jacket and ray bans... but not only did he look like a Marty Mc Fly wannabe, but he was acting like a teenager poking his wife trying to annoy her! She on the other hand was just ignoring him and looking pretty pissed off so to win her back over he started bear hugging her and messing up her hair...well that didn´t go down well and she started giving him THE LOOK. You know, the silent signal that all women give their boyfriends or husbands, that if they don´t stop what they are doing immediately, there will be consequences?! Well, he was totally oblivious to it and just tried to kiss her like a love sick puppy... so damn cute!! In the end he won her over and I just thought to myself, awww, I hope Tomás will be half as cool and cute as that old guy when he´s 80.. I know for sure I´ll still be as grumpy as the old woman!!! ;-) hahaa..

One thing that I also like to do in conjunction with people watching (they go hand in hand..) is comparing cultures... Sometimes I really do find it amazing the differences between British and Portuguese cultures... From the level of tactileness and what is deemed okay/inappropriate etc etc. And more often than not, us British lot come off the worse of the two! For example, I just DIE inside whenever I am walking around touristy parts of Lisbon. For example, yesterday Tomás and I went to Belém which is a wonderful place and where I´m going to start swimming (but more on that later) and we decided to have lunch at one of our favourite cafés. Because we had Mika with us, we had to sit outside - which wasn´t bad because the sun was shining and it was actually quite hot.. and I saw a group of young English tourists... Oh. My. God. Not only where they horrifically LOUD, but they were walking around showing much more flesh then was necessary. God.. I sound like an old woman.. but seriously.. I don´t need to see someone´s fat hanging out (and over) micro skinny shorts... I mean, that´s just horrific. Especially when you´re trying to eat. Some people just have no shame! Just because it was 17 degrees, does not give you the green light to bascially walk around in your underwear... are you a model? NO. are you at the beach? NO. are you skinny? NO. So... for the love of god, please don´t wear tiny tiny shorts! Yuck! What made things worse was that it wasn´t just one girl, there was a whole flock of these tourists shouting and stomping around like elephants. I mean, where´s your class?! I was so horrified that I kept my voice low and talked to Tomás in portuguese so that I wouldn´t be associated with those morons of society.. I felt equally embarrased as there was a emaculately dressed portuguese woman about my age sitting on the table next to me, all very Audry Hepburn-esq - wonderfully painted red nails, oversized sunglasses, cigarette in her hand, gorgeous hair and dress, just looking at them with complete distain... And it´s such a shame, because these girls (and guys) give us such a bad name. Not all English people are like that!!! lol.

Anyway, I guess I´m kinda lucky that I´m able to absorb accents... It´s hard for people here to guess where I´m from! :D I don´t know where it stems´s become completely subconscious and I´m not aware I´m doing it! Tomás tells me that I sound completely different when I´m talking to my Mum on the phone. And I quote "you become OH so English!"... lol. Although it´s kinda a weird talent (if you can call it that), it´s helped me become much more profiecient in Portuguese... Combined with my aptitude for languages, I can almost blend in here... blue eyes and white skin do kinda give me away a bit hahaha. But I do like to confuse people. Like tonight.. I was walking Mika to the park to play (which by the way, I have to address in another blog!) when I passed some German girls. One girl came bounding up to me shouting "Do you speak English?!". To which I replied "of course, how can I help?". She preceeded to ask me how to find bus stop 152.. to which I just looked at her like ERRR.. no idea! Although I live here, I don´t get the bus! So anyway, I just pointed them in the direction of all the bus stops and as she was thanking me, she said "It´s amazing...! You speak English SO well!!"... That took awhile to register in my head, but she obviously thought I was Portuguese... so either A) my accent when speaking English now sounds Portuguese, B) My English is actually really bad that even a foreigner doesn´t realise I´m actually English or C) She just assumed I was Portuguese as I had a dog and was living in a non-tourist area... I hope it´s option C)!!! hahaa.

So anyway, where was I? Hmm.. oh, yeah, differences of cultures (and mistaken idendity). When I finally got on the boat home I took my customary seat by the window so I can stare out at the water. I took out my phone to text Tomás all stupid and giggly "On the boat!! :) xxxx" when I noticed that someone was trying to talk to me! Normally, I have a filter where any noise just washes over me... but this was persitent and I could faintly smell whisky breath...I looked up from behind my sunglasses and saw a guy with Lenny Kravitz hair trying to get my attention. His words were: "Ei! Fofa! Olha! Fofa! Manda-me uma mensagem!!" Which basically means, "hey cutie, hey! Send me a message!". With this kind of annoying behaviour, I just normally ignore it...and I thought I had been successful because after a few minutes he walked away and I thought, thank fuck...dodged that crazy bullet. Then as the boat was docking, I went downstairs to the exit waiting for the boat to stop and he was there. Damn it .. I thought, hoping he wouldn´t notice me..but ohhhh no, he did! Anyway, he started again to try and get my attention and I decided to just reply with the bog standard : "Não falo português"... I don´t speak portuguese. To which he just said "Falas, falas".. You speak, you speak! Lol.. damn it. So anyway, he was asking me in Portuguese, where are you from, whats your name... Diz-me o teu nome fofinha, diz lá!!! I was like, Nope..nope.. and he started guessing...Sofia?? Patrícia?? Ohhh how I was wanting to just say, look, dude, fuck off. But, I had  the feeling he was harmless and just drunk, so I just played along until the boat stopped and we got off. He tried again to follow me, blowing kisses at me etc but luckily for me, Tomás came to pick me up with Mika and the drunkard soon left me alone. Anyway, this has happened to me a few times which I find hilarious and also strange.. Very rarely in England would I come across this behaviour, but then I didn´t live in London, so maybe its common in cities..or maybe it´s just the Portuguese men...I dunno. But again..differences in cultures interests me and as always, I´m comparing and analysising! The psychologist in me just won´t die!!

Well, I´ve been wittering on for ages now. And I still have more to write, but that´s for tomorrow! If I haven´t bored you, I hope I´ve amused you and given you a little insight into my life in Portugal!

Friday, 5 August 2011

Don´t you just hate it when...

You spend bloody 20 minutes of your life writing something, only to save it and it disappears?! What the fuck. Seriously…did it just spontaneously combust into the cybersphere?! Surely it´s there somewhere?! And now all my witty, hilarious comments (sarcasm…) are gone forever! Damn. You. Tumblr.

So I´m going to try again but I´ve lost all my enthusiasm and it wont be as good as my first attempt. Just so you know xP

Tomás being the totó that he is, managed to hurt his knee at work today and ended up going to the hospital. Me being me, complete drama queen was like OH MY GOD! and was rushing around trying to figure out how to get to the hospital to see him. I should have listened to him and just stayed at home to wait for him, but I didn’t want him to be alone and I wanted to look after him! So I jumped on the metro to Pragal with the vaguest idea of where the hospital was. Tomás words were: its the pink building near the 25 de abril bridge. Hmm. Great.

When I got off the metro I just walked in the direction I thought it was, not knowing I was actually walking through the Ghetto of Caparica - not a good start. Anyway, I thought it was going ok, until I realised all the fecking buildings around me were PINK! Tomás called me wondering where I was, and I said, er near lots of pink builidings!!! So anyway, his next instruction was to just. follow. the. road.. again very helpful… lol.

So, thus ensued more aimless walking, passing many dodgy looking characters and getting sunburnt… Eventually I see the hospital…but the next problem is er THE MASSIVE FENCE surrounding the complex… so I’m supposed to jump over the frigging thing?! Lets just say, I spent another 20 minutes trying to find the fucking entrance to the bastard hospital and got very frustrated.

Then Tomás calls me.. “Im done, where are you?”. Er, done?! What the fuck? In England, it would be at least 2 hours waiting to be seen etc etc. So then we spent ages on the phone describing what was around us trying to find each other. Now it seems amusing but at the time it was about to have a fit.

So long story short, he’s okay, just a little sore and I now know Pragal VERY well :)