There is so much I learned while here in Portugal on a planning trip. I learned about the people of Portugal as well as places, culture, and food. But I also learned more about myself. I learned how much I love helping people. I learned how much I care passionately about community and what that means. The people of Portugal have reminded me that it is okay to care for me, that it is okay to care for even those you don’t know. They are just being themselves – nice, helpful, compassionate, inclusive to all people.
All-Inclusive People of Portugal
Portuguese people don’t separate themselves into groups as we do in America. It was the first European country to recognize same-sex marriage. There are pride colors all over Coimbra. We drove by a park where the park bench was painted in rainbow colors. Made me smile. I have seen gay pride flags flying and then couples walking hand and hand in the middle of the square in the city center.
Additionally, the inclusiveness doesn’t stop there. Teenagers help grandparents to the car on a rainy windy day to help keep them steady. A couple of people that were blind were navigating a country that I would think would be harder due to the fact that the sidewalks are made of cobblestone and stones, not concrete like we have in America. They did this with only the assistance of their walking stick. However when in tight quarters the people naturally step out of the way for them to get through easier. I have also seen several couples talking to each other in sign language. I know that some of these things we have all seen in America at some time or another, but this is every day these beautiful humans live this way. It is not a once in a while or rare act of kindness. They are just kind to one another.
The Helpful People of Portugal
It was pretty amazing how helpful they all have been to us. Often starting a sentence with, “I’m sorry but my English is not that good,” they found a way to answer questions, direct us to places and explain things to us in the city. Examples of the kinds of things I am talking about are things like when we first got here to Portugal and we were trying to figure out how to get tickets for the subway. Before too much time passed, a random gentleman saw we were kinda at a loss because everything is in Portuguese and ours is not great yet. So he came up and asked if he could help. Asked us where we needed to go, how far it was, what stop we would need and put it in the machine and gave us our change and directions to the platform. This became something I realized was just how they live normally every day.
Every restaurant found a menu in English and someone in the restaurant that could communicate with us better. Every store is the same way. I finally said to one of them that their English was way better than my Portuguese.
Why We’re Moving to Portugal
One of the reasons I wanted our family to move here is because I had read and heard from several people as I spoke to people about our plan how nice the people are because it is something we just have lost in America. I did not realize just how amazing it really is until I experienced it myself. Our family will be so much better for living here. The new journey that we are starting is going to be just a dream life that I have always wanted, and I get to finish raising a little boy in it. It is remarkable to me that I have this opportunity in my life to come to visit, let alone that we will be moving here soon enough. This is exactly what our family needs.
I was thinking about other things that we decided were good reasons to move here like the crime rate, cost of living, and the sense of community in the country. After being here I understand why all of those things exist. In my opinion, there is a correlation between how nice the culture is and the crime rate. I think it is directly related to how people treat each other. The fact that they are just genuinely nice to each other. There are fewer he said she said events, discourse, and unrest so no need to get in a big fight about words spoken. I am a realist and know that they can possibly get mad at each other or disagree but I think they have found it is important to stay civil when in a discussion about differences and are able to work them out in a non-violent way.
Our Common Threads
Our experience on our visit to Coimbra has opened my eyes and helped me put what information I had into a reality that is kind of hard to explain. It just seems so unreal that a place like this exists. I learned that people can be nice and genuine as a culture. All those years that I was nice to others and just wanted that back in return was not bad for me to think. I learned that we all have common threads and the big one is that we are all humans. Let’s be kind to each other just because it is who we are.
Contact us if you have any questions or comments about this or any other post. We love to hear from our readers!