Monday, 19 September 2011


People always ask me how it was in the UK compared to Portugal. 

Most of the people in Portugal tend to be little confident about our country and most of the time think outside the country everything is above and much better.

Everything was way better, no? That's the common question people ask me. My answer is: "you have to live outside the country to see" and not just visit a city. That's the way I've learnt that everything outside Portugal isn't roses.

It's a trend: people visit a country's capital and think they've seen the whole thing. They go to London, Paris, NY and everything is magical. They don't walk on the pathways in Portugal and even sometimes park their cars on them but can walk miles and respect everyone when they are outside the country. Others only see what movies or TV show them how other countries are.

So today I bring some differences (just a summary of some things I've seen) from my life in the UK and my life in Portugal.

First, there is no doubt we have an amazing weather. I guess other countries would like to have summer time from June to almost October and even go to the beach early April. I was getting depressed with the grey time in the UK. 

Second, the food. We have an amazing variety of delicious dishes from starters to desserts.
In the UK I've always asked myself why there are 3 cooking shows on the British TV prime-time. And although I could find a bigger variety of products in the supermarkets (quinoa or buckwheat in the smaller supermarkets) and some nice food in restaurants the British continue to eat badly. Take-away restaurants are like mushrooms and those don't have good quality.

Third, the crisis. It's not only in Portugal that we suffer from the consequences of the subprime crisis in 2008.   Even though the British have other problems like the money they have spent on wars they are in (including Lybia) people are also concerned about cuts and government debt. I know our way of living and the impact of our austerity measures it's affecting us way more. However, it's not easier to find a job in the UK than in Portugal. It's true people have a bigger salary in the UK than in Portugal but the prices are also more expensive and they have to pay more taxes (even a tax for a TV license: no one can have a TV without paying it even if they watch TV via a computer they have to pay it and it costs about 200Euros)

Fourth, the media. That's something I want to talk in a next post but just to say that there are also controversial TV shows and tabloids in the UK. One thing that I like is that in the UK the newspapers are identified by their political view (the conservative and the labour papers) and not ambiguous news and opinions we see in the Portuguese newspapers. Other thing is they talk about other sports other than Football (soccer). They talk about cricket, athletics, rugby, golf, triathlon...

Fifth, I don't see any difference in the education between Portugal and the UK. I can only talk about the Universities but in both places teachers are demanding and in the UK universities are way more expensive. There are no canteens like in Portugal and everything in the universities from bars to shops are ran by private owners so the prices are expensive.

Two big problems that surprised me a lot in the UK and we don't see in Portugal: the amount of young ladies with children and the people with alcoholic problems.
Girls with 16 to 20 carrying their children to school and most of them are unemployed or work in the supermarkets. Alcohol is everywhere and it's something that affect not only younger but also older people. On my way to the University I used to see boxes of empty bottles (not only beer) outside the houses.

It's true there is more respect for cycling than in Portugal. People horn way less in the UK and wait behind the riders but there are also some drivers who shout and are not careful with riders.

Some things were better some don't. "If I lived outside Portugal things were different" and "go live outside the country, things are really bad here" are also common phrases I hear a lot.

We should be more confident on our country and our values. We must be original and don't copy the bad habits from other countries.

Why with all the conditions to succeed the Portuguese keep waiting for something big to happen (like the discovery of oil or gold in our country) and with the use of little everyday actions don't make the country better to live?

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