It is not easy to hide as a foreigner in a new country. And if you are tall and your walk is of the determined type, well, you’re spotted and labelled in a split second in Portugal.
I’m not saying it’s good or bad, but I am saying it has consequences, and it sure makes it difficult to melt in and embrace the new, cause everybody else has already established you don’t fit in.
Being of the type who actually enjoys (some would say strives) to stick out, I personally don’t mind the part of being seen and noticed. I have long accepted I could not get away with neither shop lifting nor being rude, it will be remembered. On the contrary, it is quite convenient to be remembered when coming back to places, it makes it easier to get quick service as in getting before the line, the shop attendants remembering what and which size you bought last, feeling at home because people say hi in a way that you can tell they kind of know you a bit, or at least more than all the other totally new faces.
It’s just on some gloomy, negatively hung over, introvert days that it would be pleasant to actually melt in and be able to walk along without being noticed. But those days are excellent for staying at home.
So that’s not the problematic consequence. What is negative, is the fact that people and their behaviours change when they realise you’re a foreigner. So, even when studying and trying hard, your efforts are not greeted by cultural recognition. And that is frustrating.
For one, they change language if they can, even if you try your best they change. Which is of course a very very nice gesture, but the mere fact that they change language makes them a bit nervous, and even though, luckily, Portugal has a relatively wide spread knowledge of English, it is not like it is their normal habitat, hence they are not really themselves when speaking it. And there are more, more or less obvious differences. And then I didn’t even start going into how it changes me when I realize they see that I’m an outsider.
It makes me wonder if those are things that will ever pass or it’s the kind of cultural scars that will stay forever and keep on forming both the new and the old culture.