For my sixth and seventh grade years my mother worked in Portugal, and she brought me and my sister with her. I know there were ups and downs, but for the most part all I have are good memories from this lovely country. There were many beach trips, because our apartment was a five-minute walk away. There were trips to other countries. There were new friends made.
My sister and I attended an international school where my learning Portuguese was required, and I must say, it paid off. This school and this country as a whole helped to open my mind and broaden my views on other cultures. It helped me to understand everything that the school systems in the United States weren’t teaching, and that’s was that there were two sides to every historical event.
The school provided greater opportunities than most in the US. For instance, camping trips for the middle and high school students, choir and history trips to Spain, and so much more. It was as if they were trying to find ways to reach out to the students and learn how they learned instead of just forcing facts down their throats. That school provided an insight of how an education system should work.
I experienced foreign beauty with my first stupid little relationships, if that’s what you even want to call them. You know the ones where you pass notes back and forth constantly, meet up in the hallways, hold hands, and just do stupid young relationship stuff. In that I experienced my first taste of jealousy. Funny now, then it caused a disaster between the girls. I liked this Portuguese girl, so we started “dating.” Well, she had this Turkish friend, also very gorgeous, that liked me too. Long story short, friendship ruined, and then a few weeks in I ended one to date the other. Like I said… kid stuff.
I met friends there that I will probably never forget. Like any move though, friendships don’t always stay the same with distance. There was one friendship that was made that seemed to mean more than the rest though. There was a young lady that turned our friendship into something that felt more like being siblings. Our parents even grew close too. I’m talking friendship where we stayed up all night playing video games while our parents sat out back talking.
There was this one day when she was fed up with this wart she had on her arm. So, me being me, I told her I would take care of it. I took some cuticle clippers, grabbed it, and ripped it off. She looked at it for a second, looked up, and then took off running. She ran around the house maybe 3 times yelling at the top of her lungs.
Our families took trips around Europe. We drove through Spain and the UK. We saw the wild monkeys in Gibraltar that snatched my sister by her hoodie. We did homework and studied together. This friendship was one to remember.
Like many things, it was made weird and awkward. On our way back from traveling Europe, my friend’s mom misplaced a book that my mother let her borrow. My mother took it upon herself to hold onto my friend’s passport until the book was returned. There was more to it I guess, more that has to do with my mother’s past, but that’s not my story to tell. Anyway, my mother managed to make it awkward every time I wanted to go over there or the opposite. All over a book. My friend and I stayed friends and talk occasionally, but that’s it.
I attempted soccer, or football as the Portuguese and the rest of the world call it, while I was there. Let’s just say, I should have never attempted that there. They are way better at it than anyone I’ve ever met. I did join the basketball team though. I wasn’t great, but I played my part. I had fun going to practice and games, until my mother told me I couldn’t go to the practices for like three weeks. I don’t remember the reasoning behind it, but I do remember that I was upset because I enjoyed it. Eventually I went back after almost losing my spot on the team and having to beg the coach to let me play. It was embarrassing as a sixth grader having to explain to your coach that for some stupid reason your mother didn’t want you to play on a sports team and that you really wanted your spot back. I can also tell you that no matter how many times I asked my mother to come to a game, she never came. She was always too busy, even after work.
After the completion of my seventh-grade year, that’s when I decided I want to give living with my father a try. It broke my mother’s heart, but in my mind, this was an experiment and I had to try it.
Portugal was a great time for the most part. I had this wicked tan, met some great people, and learned things that I would not have learned in the US. It was an experience that many do not have the opportunity to take part in.
Have a good one!