In Queen’s Lands

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My family, my dog, my friends, the sun, my sofa, the Tagus River, the traditional Lisbon pavement… the list goes on and on. After almost three weeks in the UK, these are some of the things I miss the most. I am currently living in Leamington Spa with my boyfriend, Miguel, and so far I haven’t found any word (in Portuguese or in English) to describe this experience.

Leamington Spa will be my home at least until June. This is a small town right in the middle of England, one of the places furthest away from the sea in the UK. It does have a small river that cuts the city in half and the irony is that there is an “upper” part, in all its meanings, and a “lower” one as well. Miguel and I are renting a small 1 bedroom apartment in the “lower” part of Leamington. We can’t really complain: we are near the train station and the supermarkets, we are at a five minutes walk from the river and the city centre that surrounds it. I really like the city centre. It has nothing on Lisbon’s city centre, but it has a beautiful garden, a tall church and impressive building such as the town hall.

Sometimes I manage to force Miguel into a walk in the garden and those are the best times. Although there are pigeons as well, the parks in the UK (at least the ones I have seen) also have squirrels. Miguel always says that I will get used to them, but I do fear the day I won’t appreciate these small wonders. The cute squirrels, the delicious English accent, the snow that shyly falls not as often as I would like, the undressed and sad trees… All wonders of my new life that I refuse to get used to.

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I would really like to see more dogs on the streets. Where I live, it is truly impossible to go out without seeing at least one dog. Two days ago I saw a dog, a black cocker spaniel, just like mine, and I freaked out. Miguel had to remind me that the dog owner couldn’t wait all day for me to pet his dog. The “English night out” is also really different. Instead of going to a club, they rally into different pubs, and instead of being out from midnight until the dawn of the next day, they meet at 8pm and the night is over by 1am the next day. I have to admit that I do prefer the “English” style of nights out, although I don’t like their beers and ciders.

My everyday so far is a continuous look for a job. In Portugal I feel really well educated and I know I can add value with my work, but to work in a foreign country is a huge challenge. My bachelor degree is in Communication and I am trying to find work in a place where I don’t speak or write perfectly the native language and I don’t have any network of contacts: the two more important tools to work in communication, I think. I can now understand a little bit better the anguish of unemployment. Nevertheless I have job interviews in the next few days, and I am feeling optimistic. Miguel’s friends have been really nice to me and I am starting to feel more at home.

This is the first time that I have to do all of the normal house management tasks: cooking, house cleaning, taking care of the dishes and the clothes, going out to buy groceries… Maybe it is just because it has only been two weeks and a few days so far, but I love it. Because I have more free time for now Miguel always helps me when I ask him to (and, in his defence, sometimes of his own accord), but we are starting to find our own rhythm. So far, my biggest challenge is finding the right match for Miguel’s socks… a true nightmare. We have been having some problems with the house, but nothing we can’t handle: a broken light switch in the bathroom, no hot water in the kitchen, broken wardrobe shelves in the bedroom, only one chair at the dining table… All part of the adventure.

And the adventure has just started…