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Living abroad: Learnings from a Lisboeta and a Londoner

Living abroad is no joke! But it's worth it. Those of us in Europe know the value of this life abroad and we've already learned a lot from the things we've seen and experienced here. It is this path of new paths, full of culture and life, that inspires and moves us to the next destination. As we are restless people and always looking for new experiences, we’ll tell you a little about how the process of moving to a new country was and what it taught us about life, difficulties, growth, and, of course, the world of brands.

Patricia, the Lisboeta.

Really, living abroad is no joke! I always had a desire in my heart to experience life outside of the country I grew up in. What is the reason? I wouldn't know how to explain. But I can only say that since I was young, this flame existed within me, and it was only growing over time.

Many years passed as I put the flame aside, and there was a lot of therapy and self-knowledge to know that it was worth pursuing.

And it was on a trip to Lisbon in 2018 that I really “slammed the hammer” inside me to follow through with the procedures for moving. With a visa in hand, rented apartment and ticket purchased, the dream had to be postponed a little longer... the pandemic was going on!

But I believe that everything happens for a reason, and I didn't let the flame go out! So in 2022, when the borders for some countries opened again, I said goodbye and see you later to Brazil and moved to Lisbon.

Now, when I write, I already have 1 year in this country that received me so well, living in a city that enchants me.

Is everything all flowers and happiness? No. Do I miss my old life? Sometimes. But it was all worth it.

And what has this experience taught me about the world of brands? Today, I wanted to talk less about a brand of a product or service, but more about the neighborhoods of Lisbon. Did you know that a country and neighborhoods can also be considered brands? This is what is called Place Branding. In a simplified way, a place, country, neighborhood, can have a strong identity and characteristic and also its vocations. Here in Lisbon, there are some neighborhoods that, despite having something in common, being tourist hotspots, for example, they also have their particularities. I will talk about 2 of them.

Alfama, which I love! Alfama is the oldest neighborhood in Lisbon with steep, narrow and charming streets, but more than that, it is the neighborhood where, as the story goes, fado was created - a melancholic style of music that was sung by wives while waiting for the return of their husbands, fishermen who went out to sea to fish. It is in Alfama that you will easily find fado singers in different places.

Another neighborhood with its particularities is Bairro Alto, which can also be called the bohemian neighborhood of Lisbon, or “party neighborhood”. We can say that this neighborhood has two different personalities: during the day it is a calm, peaceful neighborhood, but at night, several bars, mini discos, places to have shots, open to the public. The streets are full, and the party goes on until dawn. It is in Bairro Alto where several “tribes” meet and live together peacefully.

I still have a lot to learn and brands to discover. So here's to the next few years, with all their learnings and excitement!

Gabriel, the Londoner.

I left Brazil when I was 16 years old and, I can say, I don't regret any decision along this path that now completes almost 11 years. They are 11 years of learning and experiences that have challenged me a lot, but that bring with them unforgettable memories.

I remember it like it was today, the day I left Brazil for the first time to go live in Atlanta, in the United States. My fear, along with my teenage fervor, was knocking incessantly at the door, and I couldn't hold back my tears on the plane. There I was, sad, dissatisfied, confused, innocent, and above all, scared. Turned upside down. I looked like I was about to join the army, but that's the way a poet's heart is, it moves, turns around, jumps, crouches, gets up, lies down, and gets up again. It was a big change, yes, but for some reason, I couldn't see the 'silver lining' of this whole move.

Fast forward ten years and I reflect with great affection on this small, quiet, melancholic little poet, but I see how far he has come, how much he has learned living abroad. This is the biggest lesson for me. The transformation that happens from geographic displacement. And, I dare say, that same displacement greatly facilitates another type of displacement, a mental escape. The moment the brain realizes that it is in a new scenario, a new country, avenues open up and creativity runs wild. The trip is made sitting down, imagining, daydreaming. And the desire for more is strong, it's what fuels this madness that is living abroad. I tell everyone, living abroad is hard, but you will never regret it. Some stay, others come back, but what's left is always a lesson, that inner wrinkle that is only conquered when we go through the fire and come out victorious on the other side.

That initial pain of leaving Brazil is like jumping into an icy pool. At the moment we don't want to jump, we're warm out of it. We don't want the thermal shock, our body refuses, our mind curses us. But the heart wants it, it wants it and it goes, because it is attracted to the unknown, to the pure philosophy of living, jubilating and singing. Good thing I jumped in the pool, otherwise I'd be dry, with nothing to worry about. After the jump, I was still hot and cold, but I managed to grab some towels to dry off and adapt to the weather. Towels are our friends, and you'll need them for when you do this jump. The towel for the family, the towel for friends, for parties, for gatherings.

And the brands? Oh, the brands! I think that living in London means having a deep relationship with the city's artistic and cultural scene. I'm a living poet drooling over all of the massive availability of events, of cultural hideaways! I can confidently say that cities like London can be brands in themselves. And I found out that this brand, in addition to being centenary, respected and cultured, has its sub-brands, the ones I see in supermarkets, in nightclubs, in restaurants, riding the famous red 'double decker' bus. Thinking about Branding, I feel that there is a very strong relationship here between these sub-brands and the great city of London. This is where memorable Place Branding jobs come from! Wandering around and delving into life here in the UK, I also realized that a brand can have an almost inspirational character in people's lives. This is the case with the royal family, which acts as a mother brand for the UK. I'm a little careful with using this name, but if I explain it more deeply, I think you’ll understand me, and maybe even start to think of brands as something that goes beyond products and commodities.

I realized the real scale of the royal family when I watched the posthumous homage of Queen Elizabeth II. Despite the sad context of the occasion, I saw thousands and thousands of people in kilometric queues to say goodbye to the Queen, to share what they wanted to say to her but never had the chance, to thank her for her service and dedication to the British nation, and to bless her in her passage beyond our world. I saw adult men in tears, bawling their eyes out. I saw mothers holding their children, immigrants offering flowers at the Queen's tomb, all in honor of her. Living in London, I realized how much the royal family means to the British people, and how far this brand has come, serving as a support system for millions of people around the four corners of the world.

The royal family represents what we are all looking for, compassion, leadership, and above all, belonging. It is the representation of the ideal self based on the premise that our current self, combined with a space of idealization, propels us towards a life that is more in line with what we really want to be and represent. What we want to identify with. There's nothing like good leaders to lift our spirits and light the way ahead. And some might say that the British monarchy and royal family no longer fits within the context of contemporary society. I have doubts, if they really are of little importance, why do they still generate so many queues, so much media, so much gossip? Why are there so many positive repercussions of the royal family in the lives of thousands of Britons?

Anyway, we can say that we have learned and are learning a lot in the cities we chose to live in. And for everyone who wants to venture into unknown oceans, we invite you! Or, for those just starting out on their journey, let's start in the pool, taking small dips towards everything that awaits us. After all, what's the worst thing that could happen? Go back? Maybe, but always transformed after our courage and determination!


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