Returning to the UK/Reflections on Portugal

Following on from a recent trip back to the UK to celebrate my birthday, I wrote a blog that basically went along the lines of me wanting to move back to England at the earliest opportunity. Despite my desire to move back to the UK, I never imagined that less than a month later I would have been offered a job, allowing me to return. When I leave it will bring to an end a chapter in my life, arguably the most impactful on me since a year in Nottingham in my early twenties.

So, as usual, a song…….

Right, back to the matter at hand. I have been offered a job back in the UK, London to be more precise. The circumstances aren’t quite as straight forward as you would expect. Basically, I interviewed for a role at a telecoms company near Kings Cross Station and I missed out to someone with a vastly superior amount of experience, but the recruiter loved me so much that they offered me another role in the company, well, sort of. The job doesn’t technically exist at the moment, it is dependant on a contract being signed between the company in question and a client, but I am told that that is very likely and will be confirmed within the next week or so and, assuming everything goes as expected, I’ll then get my start date soon.

The job is ideal. It is what I’ve been wanting to do again for some time, being the same role I did for four years at Vodafone, the base wage is higher than any that I have had before, and arguably the most important,  with it being so close to Kings Cross, I can go home to Lincoln on a regular basis and it be fairly easy. I’ve also applied for a few part-time roles in cinema

All of this means that I will finally be leaving Portugal. My final day at work will be October 22nd, six months to the day that I started the job I am currently in. Officially I don’t actually finish with the company until the 31st, but I’ve taken the last of my accrued holiday to be able to leave nine days early. October 22nd will also be my final day in the country as I am leaving on the 23:45 flight out of Lisbon, only a short seven hours and forty-five minutes after my shift ends.

I’ve spent the last few days reflecting on my time here in Portugal, both the good and the bad.

It’s probably easier to start with what has gone well, mainly because it is a much shorter list than what hasn’t. So let’s start with the obvious and the friends I have made. It is a strange thing to think that it is likely that I won’t see the majority of the friends I’ve made again. It is strange because I’ve established some friendships that I would like to keep going. I’m not going to mention their names out of respect, but they come from all around the world, including (in no particular order) a few English, a few Germans, a Spaniard, two Italians, one South African and two Brazilians. Realistically, the only ones I’ll ever probably see again are the ones who are from who usually live in England, especially as one is from Derbyshire, which is just down the road from Lincoln.

Left to Right – Me, Abs, Marie, Sam, Neeve and Shantel

There are some beautiful parts of Lisbon and the surrounding area too, especially Sintra. There are parts of the city and country and I am going to miss. I’ve got 16 days left at the time of writing, so going to try and do the touristy stuff as much as possible. I got a lot done in my first few weeks as I thought that I wouldn’t be here that long due to a job offer. Speaking of which if you’re applying for telecoms roles in Leeds and end up dealing with a guy called Rishi at one that is based in the south-west of the city, don’t waste your time. The guy doesn’t know how to turn on his out-of-office and will blame you when your references don’t come back in what he considers a timely manner.

Anyway, so that’s the good……onto the bad.

I am going to keep this relatively brief….but those who have met me in person know that that can easily be longer than it sounds.

In short, the company that I work for are the reason that I am leaving. It all started on April 21st when I arrived in Lisbon and immediately felt lied to. The company that I work for give free accommodation to those non-Portuguese employees that come and work for them, and then advertise it as being a 20-50 minute journey into work. What they neglect to mention is via what method that is. I was housed in an area called Almada, which is located on the other side of a bridge. To get into Lisbon itself, where my employers are based, you have to get public transport as walking across is not an option. Take into account how long it takes to get to the train station in the first place, it could more accurately be described as a ninety-minute journey.


The view from the end of the street I lived on in Almada

Fortunately, I was able to move after getting some transphobic abuse from the locals in Almada, but the company took their sweet time about doing it. Another girl on the team got attacked a few times and again, it took them several weeks to move her. Then again, this doesn’t surprise me as the management did precisely nothing when I went to them to complain that some members of staff had given me transphobic abuse whilst I was working. The response from the manager that I told was “to blend in better with the team”, yeah, because I’m sure that the reason I get transphobic comments made towards me is that I don’t sit near them. I lost all respect that manager when they said that to me and in the two or so months since, I’ve purposefully not made an effort with them.

It was things like that that made me want to come home. Everything that happened seemed to contradict what had been said during the entire recruitment process and I regretted the move. The wages are shockingly low (it works out about £3.50 an hour as a basic wage, but they supplement it with a few extra perks, such as giving you 5 euros a day for food, and another 5 for other stuff, even then, I could sum up the pay for this job by saying that I could work at a job in the UK, only work around 20 hours per week, and come out with more than I do here. The only way I was able to justify living here was the free accommodation, but even then that became harder to justify when more than half of what I had left was going to bills back home (I still have over three years left on my £252 a month loan), and that’s not taking into account food or the bank charges incurred when transferring from one country to another.

I feel like I’ve just turned this into more of an Indeed review rather than a blog entry.

The last six months have battered me mentally, especially at the beginning. This was mainly down to the book that I was writing at the time and it brought back some bad memories. Some people helped, a lot didn’t, but overall I think I come back to England as a mentally strong person that I left. I got over what happened with Maz, which believe me was something that I never thought was possible.

So yeah, that is a summary of my time in Portugal, it does feel weird that I am going and part of me doesn’t want to, but there are far more reasons to go home than there are to stay.

To end this entry, here are the two “That Lisbon Life” videos that I made, I am trying to gather enough for a third before I go.

For now, have a good rest of the day and my next blog entry will appear on Friday 11th, celebrating a year since my op.




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