I’ve always been fascinated by people who quit their jobs to live in another country, and would like to share stories of people who have created this path for themselves.
Today, we have Ares‘ honest reflection on how he quit his job, moved to another country, and found work.
At some point in our lives, we decide that we need to make a change. Whether that be work, lifestyle, diet, living accommodations, life choices – the list is endless. Some of us decide we need to completely immerse ourselves in another world, forgetting the past, and looking forward to find what we are looking for. That’s a fancy way of saying “we travel”.
In 2015, I decided I needed such a change. I wanted to experience something different. From climate, to work, to food. I wanted to immerse myself in the complete opposite of my day to day living in a big city. I didn’t just want to travel temporarily, I wanted to live it.
Portugal, here I come.
After months of planning (I’ll spare you the countless details that’s involved in an undertaking such as an international move), May had come, and I boarded a plane. All I had to my name was the clothes on my back, my laptop, and a credit card. I had quite literally sold everything else I owned, quit my job, bought out my lease, sold my car – I mean you name it, I sold it.
Now, before you think I am a complete loon, I should mention I have family here. Although I have only met them a couple of times. So I had a place to go, but that was it. I started by learning how to farm. We live in a small farming community, where we produce everything we need to survive. Going to the market only for carbohydrates and toiletries. The land is quite acidic, so we can only grow certain foods. Unfortunately, potatoes and rice simply do not take.
Farming under the hot sun was something completely new for me, and I took it in stride. By the end of the summer, I was loving it. Just me, the outdoors, and hard work. No phones ringing, no cubicle, no boss blowing up my inbox with issues. For the most part, I had unplugged.
When you come from a developed country such as Canada, and go into a more reserved part of the world, you truly get to see the differences. Not only between your country of origin and the destination, but how cultures differentiate from city to city.
After the summer, I took the train and starting hopping around the country doing day trips. Taking the first train at dawn, and returning on one of the last trains in the evening. When you arrive in a more modern city such as Lisboa (Lisbon), it is a completely other world. Yet, I was only 3 hours from home. Everyone speaks English, fiber internet, IMAX movie theatres, and fast food. It’s what we of today consider a modern society. So what about back home?
In my small town, just outside Viseu, you get a completely different take on things. Technology is almost non existent, as a result it is mainly elderly workers who are completely removed from the outside world. Most of them still use an 11” TV with satellite. It gets about 8 channels. All of Portugal’s infrastructure is shovelled into it’s two major cities, and tourist areas. The rest of the country gets left in the dust. The smaller towns are stuck in the proverbial 1980’s.
But these reserved farmers don’t seem to mind. At least, on the surface. Most of them want out of the EU, wishing to go back to the Escudo. Where as (frankly) the more educated people in the major cities, realize being part of the EU Alliance saved them. Slowly, Portugal is making its way out of crippling financial debt and corruption.
As a native English speaker, finding work was an ongoing challenge. You may be able to find seasonal work, but long term employment without speaking Portuguese is borderline impossible. The unemployment rate is not as bad as Spain or Greece, but it still proved difficult. In these smaller towns, they do not require resumes. All they want to know is if you say you attended X school, provide the certificate of completion. They don’t care where you worked before, or how much experience you have. Why?
Contracts are given out on a 1.5 year term. After 1.5 years, most are let go as the law requires they get paid a significant amount more. So the work is always available (for the Portuguese) but you never have job security. Again, this is something I discovered only resonates within the smaller towns. Porto and Lisboa all operate with a CV and you can work somewhere for life once hired. Much like the rest of the world.
I attended university instead to work on my communication and grammar, but the Latin language threw me for a loop, and I had a hard time grasping its concepts. When a language such as Portuguese does not directly translate to English, it’s most difficult. I can understand Portuguese now, but speaking it is an ongoing challenge.
After living the life of a Portuguese citizen (and becoming one), I recently landed back home in Canada. I got what I needed out the experience, but I realized it was time to come home and continue on the path of a Canadian. Maple syrup, bacon, beer, and poutine.
They say travel broadens the mind, and I would say that is true because you are forced to see and live through other cultures. You simply cannot travel, and remain in your comfort zone. If you board a plane and land in a 5 star resort, I’d say you’re relaxing. Travelling works in conjunction with the experience of a new.
Thanks for reading!! I’m always searching for inspirational & informational travel stories to feature. Please leave a comment or send an email to tell your tales! <3