Hello from Lisbon, Portugal
What are you up to? What’s it like there? How are you feeling so far?
I’ve been getting these questions a lot over the past 12 days. My answers via text and email have been vague. Not because I don’t want to answer, but because there’s so much I could tell you, and I don’t know how to pick just one.
It’s day 12 of Remote Year, and here are a few things I can tell you about so far.
A few days ago I found myself sitting in a nightclub at 6:30 a.m. I was watching a breathtaking sunrise with a bunch of strangers, who I’d be talking about everything and nothing with for hours. Later, it dawned on me that these strangers are the ‘remotes’ I will spend every single day with for the next 12 months. And I thought, “Whoa. How cool is that?”
What I’m discovering about the group is that there are many different types of people who will each likely play a unique role in my journey this year. Some will become professionally supportive, and some a shoulder to lean on. Some will become my best friends, and some will be drinking buddies. Some will become a source of inspiration, and some a challenge.
I don’t know exactly what I’ve gotten myself into, but I like it.
Ironically, this is the word I use to describe night life. Why? Because a sunrise has concluded my night of drinking more than once in the past two weeks. The drinking culture in Lisbon is different than what I'm used to. In the U.S., I'd be on my way home at 2 a.m. But at 2 a.m. here, the party is just getting started. And the streets and bars are bustling with nightlife every day of the week.
Generally, bars and clubs they are the same as home: Loud, sweaty and sticky. But drinking on a rooftop bar or nightclub off the beach makes it just that much better.
I’ve been craving things I love, like burgers, pizza and sushi. But, it’s ok because they have all that in Lisbon. What I eat on a daily basis actually doesn’t differ much from my diet at home, aside from the fact that I eat out quite a bit more. And yes, I have had a traditional Portuguese meal. I’ll have to elaborate more on that in a future post.
The most unique dining experiences I’ve had to date was actually my lunch today. Remote Year organizes what’s called “Lunch Roulette,” where anyone who wants to go out to lunch gathers and is placed into random groups. Today, I was lucky enough to be paired with two Remote Year staff members who live in Lisbon. Their choice? Illegal Chinese. “Illegal Chinese” is a term that refers to "underground" authentic Chinese restaurants being run out of someone’s home or apartment. We rang the doorbell, and were buzzed in. After climbing a few flights of stairs, we entered a room with five tables and a kitchen where we enjoyed the most delicious Chinese food I’ve ever had in my life. (574 friends – this place craps on Jade Garden.)
This is something that’s hard to come by. The beginning of Remote Year reminds me very much of the first couple weeks of freshman year in college. Everyone is trying to do everything with everyone. And it’s exhausting. Eventually I, and the rest of the group, will get into a groove of doing our thing with people who enjoy the same thing. But for now, I’m embracing the craziness.
I will admit that two days ago I felt overwhelmed for the first time. So I closed my laptop, left my apartment building, and took a long walk around Lisbon. It’s shocking what good it can do to get lost in an unknown city can do. And the adorable cupcake café called “Tease” that I stumbled upon didn’t hurt either. I value alone time, and will have to consciously carve that out for myself.
This is where I call “home” this month. Forty Remote Year participants, including myself, sleep, eat, do laundry, hang out and sometimes even work from the “student accommodation” that we occupy (the other half of the group lives in another building). We all have a private bedroom and bathroom, and share kitchen and “living” space.
Here’s some pics of what my room looked like when I arrived. If you know me well, you know that it’s since become extremely cluttered.
I swear I still do this. You can ask NRHA. I talk to them every day! This month’s co-working space is called Beta-i. Remote Year occupies one floor of an office building where a lot of us choose to go regularly to work. I float between Beta-i and my apartment most days. This isn’t that exciting, but since I’ve been asked I figured I should share.
There are probably 100 other things that have occurred in the past 12 days that I want to share stories about. And I want to elaborate so much more on the things mentioned above. If you want to talk more, please text or email me! I miss you all. And I promise to write more moving forward. Kind of for you, but mostly for me.