Expat Interview: Ballet dancer finds new home in Lisbon

12th December 2017, Josh Earl

24-year-old expat, Josh Earl, from Essex, England started ballet at the age of 14. Ten years later, he is now part of the national ballet company of Lisbon and has been living there for 5 years. Hopefully Josh’s experiences from living abroad in a country such as Portugal, especially at such a young age, can help you decide whether or not you want to live abroad now or in the near future.

British expat living in Portugal

Did you know anything about Portugal?

Not a lot really. Apart from the great weather and that Brazil was a colony of Portugal.

Why did you move to Lisbon?

I’ve always wanted to live abroad and when I was offered to do ballet in Lisbon, I could not say no.

How did you feel during your first few weeks living there?

I was really excited! It was the first time I’ve lived abroad so there were many factors that were different to living in the UK, but there was so much to see and experience so I wasn’t really scared. I was more focused on making the most out of this great opportunity.

What was new to you and maybe strange at the beginning?

I lived in London before moving to Lisbon. While London is incredibly busy and everyone seems stressed all the time, Lisbon is the complete opposite. The atmosphere is really chilled. Maybe it’s the weather! The culture as well of course was strange for me at the beginning. The difference in food and when they actually eat was weird. They have dinner really late compared to in the UK, which was something that I had to get used to.

What do you like about Lisbon?

I enjoyed the sun. Not having to wrap up warm every day like I had to in the UK was a bonus for me. As Lisbon is a coastal city, I had the opportunity to surf which I enjoy doing with friends. The city as a whole is something I like. The vibe is cool and chilled, yet when work needs to be done, you can still focus. As I don’t work an office job, living in this city is perfect for me as there is so much to do during my free time.

Expat living in Portugal

What’s your favourite place in Lisbon and why?

The beach is one of my favourite places. I also enjoy chilling at my flat with my friends. There are a lot of bars on offer in the city. I think they favour bars more than clubs here, but they’re a great place to meet people and hang out.

When it comes to food, what do you think about the Portuguese cuisine? Is there a dish you like in particular?

The food is very unique. There is a lot on offer so it wasn’t hard for me to find food that I’m used to. I do enjoy their seafood.

Can you recommend any restaurants you like in particular?

Time out market is a great place to eat. There are a number of food markets and places where you can chill, have a beer and socialise with friends. Casanova is also one of my favourites, they do great pizzas.

Expat Living in Lisbon

If friends from back home come visit you, where do you take them?

They usually come during the summer so the beach is the best place to go. During the evenings, there are some places in the city with lots of bars so I usually take them there.

Have you learnt any Portuguese? If so how?

Not that much. At work, we all speak English because there are people from a number of countries so English is the common language that everyone knows. However, I have picked up a little bit from living here for 5 years but I wouldn’t say I’m fluent. You just start to pick it up.

Do you have some general advice for people who are considering moving to Lisbon or who are living here for only a short period of time?

Get into surfing and try and learn the language. Not a lot of countries speak it, but it’s a really interesting language and English isn’t spoke a lot around here. It’s cheap here so experience as much as you can.

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