Next month I will put in my application to become a Portuguese citizen, and will hopefully become part of a rather rare group of people in the world who own both a Portuguese and Australian passport.
I will very proud to call myself Portuguese, because Portugal has become so many things to me, but most of all it is my home.
It’s been quite the journey to become Portuguese, a country of which I knew not a single person, and absolutely nothing about when I arrived in Europe 8 years ago, in the hopes of becoming an Olympic horse rider.
When I realised that I couldn’t live in chilly Germany, mum asked if I could just stop by Portugal for a week before I came back to Australia to see if I could find her a Lusitano horse.
I found her Lusitano ‘Alancelot’ who happened to be the first Lusitano I ever rode. I then went on to ride 100’s more Lusitanos all over Portugal, only to tell mum that the first one was indeed the best ;).
At the end of that week I called mum to say I was cancelling my flight to Australia and I was going to this town that I really liked about 30 minutes from Lisbon, called Cascais, for a month.
I arrived there as the sun was setting, and had to walk up a hill with my bag searching for the hostel that I had booked that day. I remember how good it felt to unpack my bag that night, and go to sleep with nowhere I needed to be the next day.
And the next day I started again. And Portugal became my home.
People say I am brave to move across the world. Out of curiosity I checked the exact antipode of where I lived in australia, and it’s a little bit inward from Portugal, but pretty close!
I tell those people you have to want something different for yourself badly enough, to go through what it takes to get it.
It’s the same in all aspects of life. People stay in unhealthy relationships with people because of the hassle or difficulty associated with having to step out alone again. People stay stuck in awful jobs that make them terribly unhappy because they don’t want to study, or take the risk of finding something better.
Portugal could have turned out to be a terrible place for me. And there were many months before I knew anyone, where I felt incredibly alone. But in a good way. I had nothing to prove, and no one to feel guilty for. I could just learn to enjoy my own company, and I gradually learned to love it, and that’s the best lesson I have learnt in my life so far. People will always disappoint you, so the best you can do is to try not to disappoint yourself. People are so afraid of change, but everything changes. As soon as you get over one hurdle in life there will be another one. But that’s what makes it interesting!
What is Portugal to me? It’s the place where the people, the food, the weather, the attitude, the culture, makes sense to me. I feel more Portuguese now than I do Australian, and I will feel extremely privileged to officially say I am of Portuguese Nationality!
To all the people who in some way helped me during the last 8 years, who introduced me to someone, or advised me in some way, or simply came to one of my dinners that were typically chaotic but with nice wine…I thank you…It’s not just where you are, but the people you are there with, that makes all the difference. VIVA PORTUGAL!
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