Portugal expat community is truly unique. For long Portugal has been sought by internationals for a second home, especially in the Algarve. Today, more than ever, we have thousands of expats living, working or retired in Portugal.
Teodora Gospodinova is one of them.
Would you like to meet her and know what she thinks about living in Portugal?
An expat living in Portugal: Interview with Teodora Gospodinova
bePortugal: Hi Teodora and thank you for agreeing to participate in this Portugal Expat Interview. As for the first question – Where are you from?
Teodora: I was born and raised in Bulgaria! My hometown’s name is Stara Zagora – one of the oldest cities in Europe. I’m proud to say that the original Thracian village dates back from the 5-4 century BC. Unfortunately, just a tiny part of the beautiful architecture is now preserved after it has been burnt to the ground.
bePortugal: How long have you lived in Portugal as an expat?
Teodora: I’ve spent about one year in Portugal, between October 2016 and September 2017.
bePortugal: Where in Portugal are you living now?
Teodora: Right now, I am back in my hometown, preparing my Master’s thesis and working as a freelance content writer.
However, my plan is to move back to Lisbon in the second half of 2019. What made me chose Lisbon? Can’t really say, it’s a more complex reason – the way I feel there, the locals, the food, the weather, the cultural face of this city, and much more!
You can check the current weather in Algarve and how it changes throughout the year.
bePortugal: When did you first decide to live in Portugal?
Teodora: The first time I visited Portugal was back in 2015 when I worked and lived in London (I was a social media manager in a quite small, London-based company).
Right after my first visit, I knew I would live in Portugal sooner or later.
Teodora: Because of the friendly vibe, I felt, the nice weather (I was completely fed up of the British weather), and the fact I’ve always been feeling more connected to the Mediterranean lifestyle than the Western European one.
The first thing was the Portuguese Camino and then my Master’s degree in Universidade do Algarve.
The best of living in Portugal
bePortugal: What do you love most about Portugal?
Teodora: I guess it’s better to ask me what I do NOT love about Portugal!
It’s the way this country makes me feel – warm, cosy, welcomed and relaxed. I love everything about it – starting from the delicious food, the language, nature, the architecture, how chilled are the Portuguese people, etc.
The worst of living in Portugal
bePortugal: What is not so great about living here?
Teodora: I can think of just one thing – the bureaucracy.
Just an example of my own experience with it – right after I moved to Faro, I went to check if everything’s okay with my university registration. I paid half of the fee via my UK bank account and somehow the money went to the bank account of another faculty of the university. However, they sent me a confirmation e-mail without double checking.
I was very surprised (in a bad way) to know that quite a lot of money was missing and I am actually not a student at the University of Algarve.
Everyone was nice but they couldn’t help me at all. So I called my UK bank more than 3 times and made a solid investigation to find out what happened there. Luckily, once I told the Academic service – they fixed it but it was a tough one!
Loving the Portuguese food
bePortugal: What are your top three Portuguese restaurants and why?
Teodora: Can’t point out just three names… however, I love any restaurant that offers local Portuguese food.
bePortugal: What’s your favourite food?
Teodora: Bacalhau à brás. It’s juicy and I think it perfectly represents the Portuguese cuisine. Moreover, I love the taste of salty codfish.
Things to do in the Algarve
bePortugal: What do you do on the weekends in the Algarve?
Teodora: In Faro, I usually started the weekend days very early, with an expresso in one of my favourite coffee spots and then an early walk on Faro beach.
I loved spending the evenings enjoying a glass of sangria or red wine with some of my international friends in a bar called Biblioteca do Se7e (address: Travessa dos Arcos nº11, Faro, Portugal).
bePortugal: Are the Portuguese people friendly?
Teodora: Without a doubt! I’ve been in more than 30 countries and, to be honest, the Portuguese and the Jordanian people are the best!
I’ll give you an example – when I was doing the Camino Portuguese, I had lunch in a small village in the north part of Portugal. The gentleman who was working in the bistro couldn’t say a word in English so he couldn’t properly explain to me the difference between 2 types of fish. At some point, I gave up and he disappeared into the kitchen. He came back with 2 plates of raw fish so I could see with my eyes what I was ordering. Such a nice guy!
I think this example shows the friendliness of the Portuguese people – always ready to help you!
bePortugal: What’s your favourite beach in Algarve?
Teodora: I’ve got a whole bunch of favourite beaches, however, my most preferred one is Praia da Ilha da Culatra. It is located on the Culatra island – one of the islands of Ria Formosa Natural Park (Algarve). You can catch a ferry from Olhão and visit this heavenly relaxing island for less than 4 EUR (return ticket).
See here why we advise you to visit Algarve and how to plan your journey.
bePortugal: Did you have a cultural shock when you first got to Portugal?
Teodora: I moved to Portugal right after London and I was positively surprised by the friendliness of the Portuguese people.
I don’t want to say the Londoners are not nice, but they are more polite in a cold, more formal manner.
There was no cultural shock, though.
bePortugal: What do you do in Portugal?
Teodora: I was a full-time Master’s student there and I will be a freelance content writer once I get back.
I feel lucky that I am already working as a freelance content writer (covering everything from interior design to travelling, Portugal to cryptocurrencies and beyond) … so I won’t be stressed out to find a job and worrying about the money.
bePortugal: How good is your Portuguese?
Teodora: It’s pretty basic (I studied Portuguese for one semester in Universidade do Algarve). Right now, I am using a very cool app to level up my skills.
It is called Portuguese phrasebook, it’s 100% free to easy and it covers loads of topics from everyday life. I really can’t say if that’s the best one you can ever find (maybe not) but it really helps me now
bePortugal: What’s your favourite word in Portuguese?
Teodora: Apaixonar – I actually have it tattooed on my hand.
Things to do in Portugal
bePortugal: Tell us about what you do for fun in Portugal?
Teodora: I am a big fan of the bike bar tours around Lisbon and the coastal hiking paths around the region of Algarve. The hiking helps me clear my mind from negative thoughts and relax, while the bike bar tours are great when you are with friends on Friday night.
bePortugal: Are you planning on staying in Portugal in the future?
Teodora: Yes, I sure am!
bePortugal: Do you have any tips for our expats planning to move to Portugal?
Teodora: Just don’t listen to other people’s recommendations too much and prepare to fall in love with Portugal!
There were a few people that were quite surprised when I told them I was moving to study in Portugal. They were like “ohh why did you choose Portugal? They are in really bad economic shape” or “Moving from England to Portugal – that might hurt”. They were all wrong, trust me.
See here our guide to know the Algarve Airport inside out.
bePortugal: Do you have any favorite Web sites or blogs about Portugal?
Teodora: I do have now – bePortugal.com!
Would you like to read more interviews like this? Send us some question suggestions and other topics you would like us to discuss with our expat community. In the meantime, sign up to our newsletter for more interesting interviews like this.