3 Most Common Misconceptions About Portugal
We form impressions and opinions about other people quite easily because that helps us to navigate through our complex reality. We also do it when we think about countries and other nations, because that helps us to structure our knowledge and prepare for eventual future interactions. For instances, if you’re visiting Portugal, you may already be expecting to be invited to come over our house and have a meal with us.
Being aware of such behaviours may help you manage the way you interact and respond to situations that involve locals. There are also, however, harmful expectations that can hinder such communication and affect your experience while visiting any country than your own.
While some erroneous ideas are fun to prove wrong, others are hard to face or can even become a doorway to prejudice and discrimination between people from different countries. The funny thing is that we also hold biased perceptions and impressions about our own country and comrades. I realised this when I became an expat and lived abroad for almost four years.
Being a foreigner helped me to gain a new perspective not only about my own country – Portugal -, but also about my own people – the Portuguese. Having this in mind, I decided to share with you what I think to be the three most common misconceptions that foreigners usually have about Portugal:
- We Are Neither Polished nor Sophisticated
Well, let me tell you that I had the same thought! Before moving abroad, I thought Portugal and the Portuguese were narrow minded, rude, and tasteless. But guess what… you will probably find narrow minded, rude, and tasteless people whatever country you visit. Without wanting to be disrespectful here, I actually started thinking that we are actually above average as a country. We certainly have our share of negative traits, but we are a nation that is ready to help the neighbour next door if his house is on fire or he falls in the middle of the road.
I can’t say I had the same kind of support and help when I lived abroad. Also, you won’t see us walking in the street with onesies and you probably won’t see us cold shouldering our opposition. If that’s not a sign of sophistication, then I don’t know what it is. But sure, we can shortly lose our sophistication if you push the wrong buttons, because we’re still Latin.
- We Are a Sun and Golf Destination Only
You have to work harder on your research skills, if this is your thought. Portugal is one of the best places to find prehistoric dolmens and megaliths. We have our own little version of Stonehenge in Evora, called Almendres Cromlech. We have prehistoric rock-art sites internationally known for their historic value both in the north and in the south of the country.
We have preserved an entire Roman city in Coimbra, called Conímbriga, and you can still see signs of how Muslim moors and Arabs influenced our culture, architecture, and language upon their invasion. Portugal is the country where you will find the story of the first navigators who discovered Brazil, the African coast and all the maritime way to India. Only here you will get the chance to find out how we were one of the very first European nations to explore the world and bring the world to Europeans.
We have rich museums to show you that and urban stories waiting to be heard in any old and typical Portuguese tavern. Sure thing, you will find amazing sandy beaches in our country, plenty of sun, and incredible golf fields to play, but if you’re only coming for that, you will be missing out on great learning opportunities.
- We Are Not a Region of Spain
No, we don’t belong to Spain and we don’t speak Spanish. That’s a huge insult for us as a nation. We became a country on our own in 1128, which makes us one of the oldest European countries. We speak Portuguese, which may resemble Spanish when written because we share the same Latin root, but they are not the same language.
The difference is even clearer if you put a Portuguese and a Spanish talking side by side. Of course, the Portuguese and the Spanish are closer to each other culturally speaking but there are obvious differences too, so don’t put us all in the same bag!
More historic places to visit in Portugal:
- Roman Temple of Diana – Évora
- Belem Tower – Lisboa
- Pena Palace – Sintra
- Lello Bookstore – Porto
- Bairro Alto – Lisboa
- Christ Convent – Tomar
- Bom Jesus Sanctuary – Braga
- Belem’s Custard Tarts House – Lisbo
This was a guest post written by the amazing Vanessa
Author: Vanessa Dias