Friday, February 6, 2009

And What Do You Mean By That?

Of course there are various reasons within that answer, but they all have that common denominator. The main ones though are: food and wine, language, culture and love. It all started from my background in culinary arts and hospitality management with a special interest in wines and spirits, when I had first become interested in Portuguese wine during my work as a Master Tutor for the Wines and Spirits classes while attending school at The Culinary Institute of America (CIA). I had actually been inspired by the teachings of one of the Wines professors there, Professor Michael Weiss, who had a special emphasis on the region of Portugal in his classes. This was also the most difficult region for his students to learn, as both the language and the predominant use of unknown native grapes proved to be daunting, as I found out also when trying to tutor them on it. It challenged me then to become more acquainted and knowledgeable in the area of Portuguese wine so that I would be able to answer better the questions students posed to me in my tutoring sessions. Along with doing a thorough reading of the chapter about Portugal in our Exploring Wine textbook, I searched the local wine stores for inexpensive (being on a college budget) Portuguese wines to try. This proved to be both difficult and easy at the same time, for out of the couple bottles I found, all of them were some of the most inexpensive European wines you could find in stores. To my satisfaction also, these wines turned out to not be "cheap" at all in their flavors, with both the flavors and colors of them being quite unique and distinct to other European wines using common grape varieties. I had vowed after college, that I would attempt to learn the languages and go to work first-hand in the main wine-producing countries of Europe, with Portugal being one of my top choices.

Finding a job in Europe and trying to move here is very HARD. Repeat, H-A-R-D, like kids, don't try this at home kind of hard. It took me almost two and half years after college to make an attempt come to Europe and stay here (and legally). During that time before I came here, I spent a year and half in Miami Beach, which I believed to be one of the most international cities in the US and the closest I thought I could get to "living and working in another country". I worked various jobs there in the hotel/restaurant business with all of them never amounting to anything, either because of economic failure (new restaurants closing all the time) or poor/uneducated management. After being overworked to death and under appreciated (underpaid usually), I decided to finally cut my losses and return back home to Washington DC where I spent 4 months saving up money to go take a TEFL course in Barcelona the following January (2008) to become an English teacher. Not only was English teaching advertised as the quickest way get a job and live in Europe, but I also wanted to take a breather from the restaurant industry for a bit, I had had so much frustration and resentment built up already from failed opportunities that I didn't feel it would be wise for me to continue at that time. My original intent had been to stay and work in Barcelona, to explore Spanish wines first, but I realized that I had already fell in love with Portugal; both with the country and a special someone, after taking 2 vacation trips there the year before while in Miami.

Through the immense help and support of that special someone, who is currently my boyfriend, Miguel, I moved to Portugal in February of 2008, got a teaching job, an apartment, bank account and finally, after a long struggle to find the right information, a residency permit in process. I had begun studying Portuguese on my own back in college and by the time I moved here, thought I had had a decent enough understanding of the language, BUT BOY WAS I WRONG. Portuguese is REALLY DIFFICULT to learn guys, and I'll tell you more about that in a later post. After living here for a year now though, I have at least finally managed to get to the decent level in Portuguese that I thought I had originally, and without any classes! That's probably one of the best things you get out of living in a foreign country long enough, free language lessons everyday.


  1. I’m an American and I’m fluent in Portuguese and I want to move to Portugal. I read that you obtained your residency permit after you get you job. I would be interest in how you went about getting you residency permit.

  2. I love reading about your experience in Portugal. I have been told how hard it is to learn to speak Portuguese. Since it is my first language, of course, I don't find it hard. Keep your wonderful posts coming!

  3. I am an American planning to move with my family to Portugal I JUST found your blog and am so excited! I cannot wait to read it all! This is the first post I read and it is great!!! Your entire blog is going to be read and shared!