Growing up in the United States, we are used to many things. From drinking cold milk and pulling butter out of the refrigerator to buying bread at local grocery stores, these are things we have become accustomed to. Young adults in there early to mid twenties are used to other luxuries including phones, internet, and television. But what would you do if you were put in a situation that took you out of your comfort zone and made it so you couldn’t use these “necessities.” In 2007, I put myself in this situation when I decided to take a trip to Portugal with my family. What I learned and saw during my trip are things I will never forget.
Once I became aware of my surroundings after dealing with jet lag, I started to feel a little culture shock. We stayed in a beautiful little village where my mother grew up called Vila Cortes. It is just like one of those tiny towns you would see on the Travel Channel. The tiny streets we dealt with on a daily basis made the drives a little interesting. From what I saw that first day, I have to say, no matter how beautiful of a country Portugal is, I was regretting my decision to book the trip.
Getting over the culture shock took all of a night’s sleep. The eight AM wakeup call from the first of three local bread companies making deliveries was something new for me. We here in the United States are used to getting pizza deliveries, not bread. Once I wrapped my head around that concept, it was time for breakfast. All I wanted was my cereal, and maybe a hard roll. So I put my cereal in a bowl, but my hard roll in half, and look to the fridge to get the milk and butter. To my surprise, those breakfast regulars weren’t there. They were in the cupboard, next to the coffee. Imagine that! After getting used to those differences, it was time visit family, and to see the sights.
From there on, we went to visit family, but our surprise; we needed to stop in the middle of the road. No it wasn’t because of an accident. It wasn’t because our car broke down. It was because there was a herd of sheep that needed the road. I need to say how interesting it is to open the window to your car, and have these amazing animals just walk right by you.
One thing I need to say, whether you are religious or not, if you ever visit Portugal, you need to visit a church or two. The architecture in these buildings is unlike anything we see in the United States. The amount of time put into construction of the churches is obvious.
While you may think that visiting a country like Portugal would be too much of a stretch for you because it’s not your typical vacation spot, think about all the qualities I mentioned. Visiting Portugal takes you out of your comfort zone, but that’s not a bad thing. You need to be taken out of that zone once in a while to be able to really live life, and appreciate it for what it is.
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