One or two times a year you’ll find me somewhere in the United States. I do travel to different places, but coming to the States is like coming home, as I have lived there twice for a longer period of time before.
Yesterday I walked through Lisbon by myself to see the city. And I realized that this trip is different. Wondering what it is, I found out that there are three factors:
Communication: When I travel I always get a local sim card as soon as I get somewhere.
Because communication is important to me.
Not only to get all the information I want immediately, but also do I wish that other people can get in touch with me any time. It makes life more comfortable and me more independent.
But communication goes further. I love talking to strangers, want to hear what others talk about when standing at the traffic light, I want to able to say “hello”, “please” and “thank you” when I talk to people.
And it has never been a problem. No. Problem. At. All. Ever.
Because I always travel to places where people speak English: United States, Ireland, South Africa to name the ones it have been in the last 12 months.
Here, it is different. People do speak English, but just when you ask for it. Of course! It’s just the same as in Germany. But language started to be a problem when I bought the wrong sim card (…) and tried to call the hotline and didn’t understand ANYTHING, because –of course– the call center “push one for bla bla” thing spoke Portuguese.
All the push notification about my data plan running out, I didn’t understand and just took screenshots and discussed them later on with a friend from here.
It’s the small stuff. Figuring out what “push” and “pull” on doors means. Or food! Pizza is pizza, but what is everything else?
Also it is always easy to get my point in English, simply by adding words like “fucking”, “bitch”, “hilarious”, “ridiculous”, “amazing” and “yeah”. In Portuguese all I can say after two days is “thank you”.
It’s challenging. But I guess I like it! And I’ll try to learn as many words as I can.
Culture: Culture is more than art, music and museums. It is also everyday life. How people behave, react, look at things or how things work in general. Like free refills of soft drinks in the U.S. – it’s not really culture, but somehow it is (even if you want to call it food culture, let’s not be picky here. That’d be too German btw).
While in every other place they put bread on the table before you have dinner (free of charge), they charge you for every piece you take here in Lisbon.
Also, no drinking on the street. At least it’s the rumor that caught all of our attention – but that was basically it.
And: A lot of places offer free wifi.
So it’s not just bad surprises.
Currency: Currency or actually accessing my money is a thing. It’s super cool that we have the Euro here. First: We don’t have to exchange money anymore and second: it is easy to compare prices and to see if they screw you over or not.
But while I can access my money for free in the States, I don’t have a partner bank here. It’s just a few Euros, but on a daily basis it kicks.
So yeah, it is different being here.
And I love it.