Hi! I’m Ania!
I am Polish, an immigrant, a European, and a wanderer. I’m also Iberian culture expert and passionate. Author of a series of touristic guides to Portugal published by the PASCAL, Polish publishing house. I am fluent in four languages. In my free time, I read a lot, write, run, wander around, photograph Lisbon, balance on the edge of cultures and constantly invent new activities. I believe that life is too short to not create something with every breath we draw. I moved to Lisbon, Portugal in 2011.
If someone had told me 10 years ago that I would live permanently in sunny Lisbon, speak fluent Portuguese, work in an office with locals and foreigners and spend weekends on beautiful beaches – I would not believe it. And yet I am here. And I love my Portuguese life 🙂 I love this sunny country for its beautiful landscapes, kind people and the culture of drinking wine. Due to the invaluable proximity of the ocean I spend my weekends mostly at the beach in the summer. In my spare time, I like to wander on the streets of Lisbon, with a camera in my hand, avoiding popular tourist spots, discovering hidden gems.
A long time ago, when I was choosing a field of study (I wanted to study Architecture or Psychology) at the incentive of my friend I also applied for a master course in Iberian Studies at the University of Warsaw. I didn’t manage to enter Psychology neither Architecture, so I took a chance on Iberian Studies. I thought that I would learn Spanish and get to know Spanish culture. On the first day at the beginning of the academic year, the question was asked who is willing to join the Portuguese group (which no one had mentioned to me before). It turned out that there are 6 groups dedicated to Spanish , while the only Portuguese group lacks volunteers.
I volunteered without hesitation.
I don’t know if it was a good or bad decision. It was certainly a turning point in my life. As it turned out a few years later, in the Spanish groups, the competition for the Erasmus scholarship was huge and it is very possible that I would not have been able to participate, but in my group everyone who applied for the Erasmus grant managed to get it. This way I landed in Lisbon in February 2011 and it was supposed to be a stay for only one academic semester. I never returned to Poland.
When the scholarship ended after half a year, I made a decision that I was not ready to return to Poland. For as long as I can remember, I have dreamed of traveling to sunny countries, where temperatures do not go below zero. I would like to add that it is difficult for me to function without the sun. Quite a banal fact, but still making life difficult for most months in Poland. Lisbon turned out to be a place where I found energy and strength to act. I decided to do everything to stay. I found my first job in the capital, in the meantime I finished remotely my master course at the University of Warsaw, wrote and defended my master’s thesis in Portuguese. Life continued in a joyful Portuguese rhythm.
If it wasn’t for the student exchange, I do not know if I would have dared to leave my Polish comfort zone for more than two weeks of vacation. The beginnings of emigration were softened by Erasmus: new people, new places, parties. The emigration crisis never hit me, I don’t really feel like a 100% immigrant, probably thanks to the knowledge of the language and culture, I managed to assimilate quickly.
For the first three years in Lisbon I worked in a fancy restaurant, so I learned about Portuguese gastronomy and wine culture behind the scenes. In addition to the delicious cuisine and seafood I was also delighted with the way the meals are celebrated in Portugal.
Do I miss Poland?
Do I miss family and friends?
-Yes. That’s why I try to visit Poland at least once a year.
Am I thinking of going back to Poland?
Perhaps one day I will come back, perhaps I will move to a completely different country. “A vida é uma caixinha de surpresas” as the Portuguese use to say (life is a box full of surprises). It was Lisbon and living abroad that taught me that you need to enjoy what you have here and now. Live and love fiercely, because one day this all ends.
The idea of a blog about Lisbon appeared for the first time in 2011 when I arrived in Lisbon and started Erasmus grant. However, student life turned out to be too intense and there was not enough time to run the website. For 6 years I was skeptical about the subject, there was already one Polish website devoted to this magical city (by the way very good), but addressed mainly to tourists. My approach changed when in 2015, on the wave of growing interest in Portugal, several new Polish bloggers appeared, writing alternately about the yellow tram, fado and pastéis de Belém. Of course, these are undeniable symbols of the capital. But I thought it was so unfairly little, it’s not my Lisbon, not the one I know!
First of all what makes Portugal so special: warm and friendly people. For me Portugal is a synonym of an espresso several times a day, necessarily in a cafe and necessarily with a short conversa fiada (chit-chat) with the seller. It’s the magic of the ocean, snails as an appetizer ordered with a beer in the summer, the ubiquitous humidity in the winter, a relaxed approach to life, no rush, crisis, paracetamol recommended in the pharmacy for all ailments, jantaradas (dinners) with friends on any occasion, etc. etc. I could list endlessly, that’s why I decided to share on the blog interesting facts, my observations, photos, information, everything that is Portuguese or is related to Portugal. If you are interested in life abroad, Portuguese everyday life, Portuguese language, culture, travels, events, food and great wine, if you live or are going to Lisbon – I invite you to read it 🙂
– Anna Maria