Thursday, 28 December 2017

I'll Always Have Lisbon...

I've been keeping secrets from you. OK, maybe it's not a secret as such, but I'm like a million years late in telling you about a major linguistic event in my life: I spent last March in Lisbon for a mega dose of Portuguese immersion.

I didn't blog about this while it was happening because there was a lot of other stuff taking up all my spare headspace at the time, like discussing my return to Germany with my family.

A few months before my trip, I picked a language school* purely on the basis that its lesson timetable suited me: Grammar torture sessions lasting an hour and a half three times a week, alternating with conversation classes on the other days - perfect for a digital nomad like me who ought to be reachable for their clients during office hours.

And I got lucky. The classes were small, between 2-5 students, lead by really motivated, experienced teachers who enjoyed what they were doing. I even did my homework every day... including extra grammar exercises, and that's totally unheard of. I learnt a ton - and I so wanted to stay on for another couple of months (or forever!) to keep filling those gaps. The school also laid on a series of free guided tours in Portuguese once or twice a week during the afternoons.

So, the school part was excellent, no qualms about that. A minor sticking point for me was the accommodation. I had opted for a home-stay with one of the school's staff members (a techie, not a teacher). That way, I had hoped, I was going to get some daily conversation in a domestic setting. My Portuguese was pretty OK at this point, so I wasn't "hard work" like communicating with a beginner would be.

The reality didn't quite turn out that way. Although the guy I was staying with was perfectly nice, polite, helpful and always responded warmly when I was in need of some info, he clearly preferred to keep himself to himself. And since I'm not one for forcing myself onto people, I was careful to respect his space. Also, it was unseasonably cold for March, and there was no heating in the flat, which is normal for Lisbon, but still bloody uncomfortable. And then I came down with a stonking cold. And a cough. And conjunctivitis. Those daily trips to the pharmacy worked wonders for my Portuguese, though.

I also managed to get together with a local chap I met a couple of years ago on Lucky for me (but not so much for him), he was off work with a broken arm and so had plenty of time to waste on me. We went on long walks through his home city, switching between several languages every few minutes.

I'm really suffering from those dreary winter months in Germany right now; they make me think back often to this trip and I dream of doing something like this again, if not in Lisbon then maybe in Porto. I even have a local school recommendation from one of my classmates! Unfortunately, next year is not looking very likely...

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* The Language school I attended is called Portugu√™s Et Cetera and the link is here https://www.portuguesetcetera.comThey also have a facebook page: 


  1. You've really abandoned the blog I used to follow and moved over, eh? Now I hear you're back in Germany. Sorry to hear that you had a bad time. Hope things are getting better. Good luck for 2018!

    1. Hello there! Delighted to have (slow)word from you ;-) Yes, I'm back to this blog, charting my language journey... it's one of my few enduring interests. You must have rolled your eyes at my complaining about German winters - you guys have it far worse!

    2. The snow is a nuisance. I do have a short walk from the train station to and fro from work, and that's not a fun walk... Overall, its just a nasty season.

      I shall follow your linguistic life now that my rotten play is safely on Amazon and into the wild, so to speak. I spent most of January watching the Amazon Sales Dashboard, marveling at the poor suckers who bought / or read online.

      :) :)

    3. You've published it!!! What's the Amazon link???