Today we went house hunting. Emily and I have been casually looking for a place to rent in the last few months, none of which have been much to our liking (or within a reasonable price range). And by casually I mean we’ve looked at five places in the last 3 months or so. We’re both currently living at home so there’s no rush but I’m getting to the point of desperation (something which sleeping on a couch since September of last year would probably do to you some point sooner or later). The signs of such desperation have manifested in subtle ways such as losing your shit at younger siblings and other family members when personal belongings cannot be found and being late to everything, losing track of said personal belongings (among things of mine that are currently AWOL are my water bottle, longboard, a jenga set, some books including my bible and a medical textbook which is not mine but on loan from the med school library and is due next week which I’ve barely even touched and haven’t seen for months, the list goes on and on), noticeably increased hairfall, leaving work at 7pm because you didn’t show up to work until 10:30am, increasing levels of general sadness. Just “losing” in general and it’s not the most fun.
Human flourishing never ranked high on my priority list and it didn’t take much for any self-driven efforts to be quickly undermined by either external put-downs or the mean uninhibited little voice inside my head which never seems to run out of things to say.
At the same time, I’ve always been a daydreamer with thoughts like “one day, I would like to lalalalala,” and I don’t think that will ever stop. Despite the level of wellbeing, some of these things have been manifested – with jobs, with making big decisions with potentially big consequences. There are plenty of cautionary tales out there of disordered ambition. Or even the tale of ambition being crushed. I want to hear a different narrative. One that needs to be celebrated more. One that amplifies truth, beauty and goodness rather than living in denial of it. Otherwise what even is the point of living?
This moving out thing would mean an immediate loss of comfort and security, financially and even socially with family. But radical trust in God has brought so much grace in the past, particularly with moving out. He never made me for mediocrity and He knows that I know this! Comfort from adversity has also been a good prize for inaction. I’m getting over it. And I really hope we get this house 😀
I don’t have anything particular to write about but I figured since I found a pocket of time I may as well put something new on here to sort of keep this poor neglected blog alive!
Life is average – back to working a regular job but I’m starting to gain a bit of momentum to break out and do something a little different but that may involve moving out.
The trouble is that I’ve only just started to figure out a budget for myself (I’ve been so terrible at making these things because I feel like my spending is so irregular so I have put it off my whole life). It’s also because I seem to have had the luxury to not worry about my spending and but on the flipside I never took the opportunity to be proactive with my finances to set goals and go about trying to achieve them step by step. So now I’m sitting here at 25 years old somewhat flustered and frustrated with the current situation. Moving out is expensive. While I could technically afford to rent it’s a matter of time right now coming up with the few $k in move-in costs to do it any time soon.
And part of the struggle would be lack of quality sleep and exercise and social life. I haven’t made time to sit down and intentionally figure out all this stuff like a schedule and a plan and everything. Again, something I’ve always struggled with. I once made a beautiful, colourful plan of life on an excel spreadsheet which I was terrible at sticking to but it was beautiful just to look at 😀 back when I had lectures and wee gaps to fill and I spent most of my days in town or at school. Nowadays the only time I have to budget are my weekends and before (haha) and after work with whatever extracurriculars I want to do.. But I honestly suuuck so bad at keeping these schedules. I have alarms on my phone telling me when to sleep and when to get up and I don’t follow them. I have workout reminders set in my calendar for the week and I stopped doing them ever since it got too cold and wet to be outside doing burpees on our makeshift wooden pallet deck.
Right now though I’m home sick from work and wanting to apply for jobs but my resume is on my memory stick which one of my little brothers borrowed and he’s at school. This season of life has been such a trial. So in-between and awkward. I’m lucky in many ways – to be employed, to be surrounded daily by my family members as crazy as they are, to be living in this gorgeous city.
I think the problem at the root of this is my personal sense of purpose and what I’m meant to be doing and not knowing what that is, or maybe having a sense of what it is but being too scared or fearful or unsure how to fulfill it. As an unmarried Catholic woman whose current job is largely unsatisfying (what I’m doing right now is what I envisaged as my plan B) and is living at home with parents and 4 out of 5 siblings.
I’ll try to flesh these thoughts out in another post, or series. My priority for now is to be on the mend mentally, physically, spiritually instead of continuing on this path of mundanity I’ve set before myself. I’m going to try to socialise more, maybe seek help for all these internal problems, let God work in my life so he can turn my restlessness into peace, make some small concrete steps towards goals like sending out an application here or cold call there, and see if we can re-route this train.
It’s now been around five months since I arrived back from overseas, the same amount of time that I was away for.
I’ve since returned to full-time work. The timing worked out well – I had around six or so weeks to settle before returning to the 9-to-5 grind. And although still cold in the southern hemisphere, it was exciting to know that another summer was just around the corner.
And it was spectacular. I fulfilled my goal of finding a permanent job in Wellington (I was forced to relocate to Auckland two years prior which was the alternative to facing an extended period of joblessness at home). We had back-to-back days of sunny perfection and it was such a pleasure to commute traffic-free even though I do miss the 1km walk through my neighbourhood to get to work up in Auckland.
The hardest part about being home is living at home. I had such a nice flat in Auckland. There was a cat, I had a nice big room, a small garden, a balcony, nicely furnished and decorated communal areas that spacious, likable flatmates. For a place I didn’t get the chance to see prior to moving in apart from through a brief Skype, it was an incredibly good find. And cheap as well considering the location.
Currently, I’m couchsurfing at my parents’ house. There are many perks, like being close to my siblings again who are quality people, parents who regularly go to mass, being around other family friends, access to a fully stocked pantry and a comprehensive arsenal of baking supplies and kitchen utensils. But my space is not my own, I’m no longer self-reliant, and once again having to endure the chaos that is family life.
I guess it’s a way of continuing to feel like a nomad long after the end of last year’s travels. It’s less than ideal with a working lifestyle that demands discipline and being mentally on top of my game but for now I don’t have much choice but to make do with the current situation. Beggars can’t be choosers. And not gonna lie, my finances have taken a nose-dive following the fail work-from-wherever scheme/fiasco of last year. I’m still slowly recovering but every payday is a step closer from being in red to green.
Undoubtedly, being back has been incredible and I’m happy to be here. Sure, there are challenges in moving back home but I thrived once in this difficult environment, I can do it again. It’s a not a situation that a little drive and hustle can’t fix, and it’s about time we got stuck into it.
Initially when I was planning this trip, I wanted to ride trains all the way from Portugal to Vietnam. It became apparent after a few clicks of internet research that this was definitely out of budget. Instead, I flew via Turkish Airlines from London to Hanoi which took a total of 21 hours, stopping over Istanbul, Turkey and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. The epic train journey can wait until next time 🙂
I arrived in Hanoi and went straight to Bac Ninh to a village called Ngo Khe. There, preparations for English Camp 2017 began. The other volunteers who were still to arrive were coming from Myanmar (but originally from France), Thailand (but originally from the Netherlands), and Italy. The Dutchman and the Italian both had lived in Saigon and were fluent in Vietnamese. Everyone in the group could speak Italian except for me.
It was difficult to focus on preparing the lessons and knowing what to teach. I had a good grasp of the theory and technique of communicative language teaching from my TESOL training but I had always, always struggled with lesson planning. I was really picky, I took a long time to find resources, preferring to make things from scratch, fussing over minor things and wasting hours just to prepare one exercise which would only take up 10 minutes in a lesson. And now I was faced with the task of coming up with our camp “curriculum”. My response was to procrastinate. And what I did manage to come up with displeased me. But we had to go with something. So forward we went and my heart filled with dread at the thought of teaching the next two weeks with only the barest skeleton of a plan.
We drove to Tan Cuong which was situated further north, a village in Thai Nguyen City and watched in wonder as we approached our destination turning off the main road and driving on a dirt one; the towers of the church visible from a distance with a backdrop of mountains and waterflooded rice paddies just beyond the car.
The rest of the memories of the first few days in Tan Cuong for me were a blur. I remember thinking that two weeks was a long time and missing the feeling of familiarity in Ngo Khe. The classrooms consisted of rooms with benches and tables in rows facing the front of the room and of the three we decided to occupy, only one had a large whiteboard which in actuality was a large sheet of glass or perspex mounted on a frame against the white wall.
The first week was terrifying. 40 students showed up in the morning session and 40 or so again in the afternoon. We taught identical lessons for morning and afternoon between 8 and 10 am and then again from 3 until 5 pm. The room was packed full with only a tiny aisle down the middle for movement and it was super awkward! There were people sitting at tables right up against the front wall so they probably couldn’t see the whiteboard we managed to find providentially the day before. Every lesson to me felt like a success that I didn’t faint midway through and a failure because of how much confusion there was and I had trouble coming to terms with my then present lot in life. The critical voice inside my head brought me so low I felt physically sick, had trouble sleeping, and had me feverishly praying at siesta for grace to survive the day. It seemed to me that our poor students were coming in vain to learn English because I couldn’t effectively transmit a single piece of knowledge into their heads. I was beside myself almost with grief. But one of the volunteers who I confided my distress to kindly and patiently reassured me. She said she remembers well the day she spent a whole day trying to understand her English lesson but at the end the only thing she learned was the word “international” and that made her so happy she would never forget the feeling. Don’t worry, she told me, it’s very simple to make them happy and as long as you can give them that everything will be fine.
I felt much more at ease after that. But not so long before I felt well and truly gripped by dark thoughts which kept me from thinking of how I could teach more effectively. Such as the rainstorm weather that the students had to come to school through, some over large distances, for these two-hour sessions. The guilt I felt at not learning their names and being able to give each one one-on-one attention which was essential to my teaching method. Everything felt like a shitshow and I felt absolutely terrible despite all affirmations received. We moved our class from the tiny room in the main building to a larger, more spacious room outside which some of our afternoon students volunteered to help set up and that was very kind of them. All of a sudden there was more space to move and at the same time, a switch in my brain flicked and I also felt more free.
So I’m grateful it’s all over now. There were a lot of details and things I missed but I feel I could write an entire book purely about this experience. I grew so much in the two weeks, mostly by consistently pushing myself way beyond my comfort zone and giving my best effort. I watched the students brave some pretty bad weather conditions on motorcycle with multiple passengers seated behind the driver, arriving way before class was due to start. I watched their faces furrow in confusion but try to apply themselves in the tasks they were given. I watched them return day after day despite me feeling like I totally bombed the last lesson. WITH SMILES ON THEIR FREAKING FACES.
To any of my students who read this (I doubt it highly but will write it nevertheless): I am so sorry I was such a scatterbrained teacher who obviously lacked skill and preparation. Your efforts to learn are commendable and I am proud of you more than anything for trying. I wished I had spent extra time and energy to making everything as easy for you as possible. Keep learning English! ❤
What I will say is that there was a spirit of perseverance and determination present in our camp, from teachers and students. Theirs inspired and encouraged me to bring out elements of myself I had forgotten about. I used my singing voice to teach and had to lead a dance workshop (yes, dance, please do not be unkind). I had to use my talking voice to teach!! In other words, I couldn’t be shy when I lack confidence and tend to be timid in demeanour when I know that I have something to share or something to give of myself which may be of use or need to others. Watching everyone else’s struggle helped me to overcome myself whether it be my faults or whatever internal/external struggles I was dealing with.
Language teaching is a challenge, but an extremely rewarding one, especially with the opportunity to get up close and personal with a different culture. I’m forever grateful now for the experience I got to live in Vietnam because nothing can come even close to these two weeks in Tan Cuong. That place, those kids, Fr Tan, our ragtag gang of international volunteers who were like family to me, it was clear fate was at work and we all had our own separate reasons for being there at the same time. I already miss it. I want to learn the language, I want to listen to their stories because for two weeks I had to be content with being a teacher when I wanted more. So maybe one day I will return and things will be a little different. Probably not as intense. But what is for certain: no-one is allowed to be shy.
Aaaand we’ve officially made it to Day 90 of travels abroad! Yaaaaaaay…
I can’t believe it still. The time has gone by so quickly but at the same time not so much that I feel like it was faster than I could keep up with. Being the budget traveller that I am I actually haven’t really done lots of things in each country besides explore and see what the local scene has to offer. Currently I’m staying in Elephant and Castle in Southwark, London which, by the way, I do not recommend – there is a lack of a kitchen, it’s too pricey for the location, in my opinion but then again we are in London, and I dunno, it’s just kind of average. The floor of the bathroom near the shower is squishy, which is gross. But anyway–
It was heartbreakingly sad for me to leave Portugal after nearly two months of living there. I hated saying goodbye and I had the best time, like, those two months are definitely going to be a major highlight in my life. The weather, the food, the culture, the people. And I just loved what Porto had to offer as a city with it’s beautiful beaches and river sunrise/sunset views that just took your breath away. It’s a lot of beauty in such a casual setting, I still can’t believe I was there. It’s crazy and still blows my mind.
From Porto I flew to Paris and stayed with Soraya, a friend who I met in Wellington when she was living there for a year as a French teaching assistant five years ago. She was staying in this cool little apartment which had a loft where I slept. Sadly I was in Paris for all but two nights (less than 48 hours!). I didn’t expect I’d love this city but coming to Paris was like fulfilling a childhood dream. It rained every morning and the evening I arrived. I went to mass in the Notre-Dame Cathedral which is my favourite church in the whole world now. The first thing we did when I arrived was pick up French pastries and a baguette to take home for afternoon tea. We went out to Notre Dame then took the bus towards the Tour Eiffel which when I saw it for the first time was sparkling and the thing is actually stunningly beautiful in real life! And absolutely massive. And from there we strolled down the Champs-Elysees and went to the Arc de Triomphe. One of the things I wanted was a picture of the mini Statue of Liberty somewhere on the Seine River but I never got around to it. I spent a good chunk of time admiring the art inside of the Notre-Dame Cathedral, which was my favourite thing of all time. There is something there that the French artists had that nobody else did in either Spain or Italy or Portugal, something they managed to capture in their works that evoked a deeper sense of the spiritual that left me in awe and just really inspired..
I managed to catch up with an aunt (or family friend rather) who lives in Paris and got to try escargot and confit de canard.
Because when in Paris…
So it was steadily coming down with rain when I left and made my way to Gare du Nord station to catch the train to London. Remarkably when we emerged from the tunnel beneath the English channel into U.K. territory the sun was shining and blue skies. Sr Catherine came to get me from the St Pancras Station. We caught the tube to Leicester Square and got lunch from Pret a Manger and went back to her apartment which is right off the square attached to the Notre Dame de France church and is a handy base near the Refugee Centre where she works. Then she accompanied me to Elephant and Castle where we said goodbye and I checked in and for the second time I had the hostel room all to myself! The same thing happened when I stayed here just one night in 2012.
The following day I stayed at the hostel to do some typing work and catch up on emails. In the evening I caught up with my cousin Felicity after she finished work. We met up at Old Road and went to a Mexican restaurant for dinner and barhopped until we wound up on a rooftop terrace bar with Pimms and a G&T. It was nice to catch up with her again and we’re making plans for a roadtrip around the South Island of New Zealand when she and her sister Kim come in April!
The first night I had Turkish for dinner just down the road from where I’m staying and managed to meet up with a girl who also happened to be staying at the same hostel (we met on couchsurfers). For 5.50 pounds I got a pizza (like, four slices) and a salad which was an amazing deal. Yesterday we went together to St Paul’s Cathedral and went for the 12.30 pm church service which was interesting. Remarkably similar to a Catholic mass with the liturgy being largely the same, though I was confused as to whether Anglicans do the sign of the cross or make the cross over the forehead, lips and heart before the gospel is read. Some people did and some people didn’t but importantly the minister did not. So that was interesting. Luckily we got in for free because we were attending the service but otherwise to get in costed 18 pounds!! Which is ridiculous.
Which brings us to the present. I’m going for dinner with the relatives at their house tonight. I tried to get work done today but was dying from lack of interesting jobs and also just had a mission fail because I left my plug adapter still stuck in the wall back at the hostel.. Also the McDonald’s here in Elephant and Castle inconveniently doesn’t have anywhere to plug in my computer so I had to go down to like the lobby of the lounge downstairs away from people and were there are power sockets but now my butt is sore from the plastic bucket. I should probably go to sleep, it’s 3 am.
I’m definitely getting excited for Vietnam although it looks like I will be there just shy of one month to shoot off to the Philippines where I hope to spend a bit of time with the family. I’m also looking forward to eventually coming home after dropping by Sydney, and maybe Malaysia, on my way back home. Meanwhile, I’ve got three more nights of hosteling which could be worse. I’m happy to be here. So far everything has been great. Apart from the lack of interesting work to do and a pay rate that is unmotivating but I need to make may way home some way or another.
To be perfectly honest, I didn’t set out to be a world traveller at the start. In fact, I kind of balked at the idea as I saw it being nonessential expenditure and part of an extravagant lifestyle that I wasn’t particularly interested in indulging in. With living beneath the poverty line being a reality for many people despite food going to waste everyday in supermarkets, restaurants and other food establishments, and material goods being produced in excess, I always felt uncomfortable with spending money on myself so lavishly and without concern. Why should I get to live this way when so many hardly have their basic needs met?
That obviously changed this year. But not without some kind of external push to do so.
As a person whose leading personal quality, according to school reports in all my educational history throughout primary to secondary school, was conscientiousness, I rejected overseas travel as a priority. For one, it was expensive and beyond my means and motivation, and two, I was determined to be happy wherever I was and to be content with improving my life and focusing on making others around me happy. For me if I see problems in the world, I strive to be part of the solution rather than contribute to the problem whether knowingly or by accident if it can be helped (I just want Mother Teresa to be proud of me).
Being riddled with guilt over things big or small is something I’ve struggled with all my life. So when my friend suggested I should go over to Europe to attend this Opus Dei conference my first reaction was:
This has happened before with other events that I ended up going to such as GenFest Budapest in 2012 and Hearts Aflame. In both cases, I had to be strongly talked into it. In the case of the former, I was in the middle of my degree although the trip was lining up with mid-semester break. A solid team effort with my Focolare youth group allowed us to raise the funds to be able to send someone over to GenFest to represent NZ and that person turned out to be me. Oddly, there was no jostling to be that person because of prior work or study commitments and I was the first person to drop everything and be a part of this international gathering to promote universal brotherhood and solidarity.
With Hearts, I was only living a 45 minute drive from the venue and was working full-time so I could afford it. I always felt however that I should be saving my money or doing something else with it other than these things that were seemingly just for myself, like donating it to charity or putting it aside for my family or I don’t know.. just anything besides myself!! Both events were absolutely life-changing and made such a huge impact on my life through the friendships made and the challenge to my limited and uninformed notions of how the world is and should be. Basically, I grew as a person and so it was an investment which ended up paying off.
After a bit of pondering and also realising that there were dates that were coinciding such as the 100th anniversary of the Fatima apparitions and the 500th anniversary since the start of the Protestant Reformation I realised that it would be stupid of me NOT to go. I saw the opportunity and figured to hell with all my hardcore expectations of myself and said “yes” to the adventure of a lifetime. My parents were indifferent, my sister who is also overseas was also making plans to exit the country, and I was getting increasingly excited about this upcoming trip. I made this decision last year in September/October.
Despite all the encouragement that I’ve received like “Wow, you’re travelling and you’re so young, that’s great!” there will always be a small part of me conscientiously objecting. Especially given the fact that I was (and still am) considering the possibility to enter religious life in New Zealand because I feel called to give back my privileged life one way or another to the needs of others. I’m just not entirely sure yet as to how..
So I would call myself an opportunistic traveller. I managed to take part in Pulse: The Meeting and Primo Maggio in Loppiano. I got to live with a penpal of mine all the way across the world who I would now consider my sister, and meet and hang out with a bunch of cool people along the way, visit some historical sites and basically run around wild and free in a few different cities in Europe and have a ball of a time. There is nothing I would ever take back for a second and if anything this trip has proven to me yet again that those little whispers of negative self-doubt in my head aren’t worth heeding because these experiences have been so enriching and the chances to bond with amazing, kind and like-minded humans is always going to be a plus for me.
I still consider the environmental impact of this trip with all the flying around from place to place and even whatever opportunity costs incurred with relation to building up my career and family/friend relationships that I’ve had to sacrifice back home during this time but I hope to do something with these experiences to offset my carbon footprint and also to work on being present when I get back home and build up my social life. Meanwhile I hope to make this current formative time in my life constructive and for more than just my own personal benefit; to be educational as a chance to learn from others. Certainly, I admire most the people who are able to make the most of their situation where they are in making the world a better place. You don’t have to travel to be a peacemaker or a world-changer, we can all start right now, in the present moment, in every moment. With a smile, with our words, in all our relationships and encounters, with friends, family, strangers, our work colleagues, our boss, the people we love and the people we can’t stand. But if life gives you lemons… don’t just stand there looking for the tree they came from or become obsessed with asking why! Make lemon curd or a meringue pie, iced tea, lemonade, whatever you fancy 🙂 It took me so long to understand that the lemons were indeed given to me. These are your gifts and talents that we all possess which we use to do what makes us feel alive.
Let me know if you’ve had doubts about travelling or life decisions in general! What do you do to alleviate this or commit to making a choice? I want to know if you can relate or if I’m just babbling nonsense here, ahah.
Fellow travellers, I want to know:
What were your motives and aims for your trip? What did you aim to get out of the experience?
Have you travelled much domestically and how much does home mean to you?
If you could pick anywhere in the world to live, where would it be and why?
What risks have you taken that paid off later in the future and how did you overcome the barriers which held you back?
Be unafraid to take the plunge and see what life has to offer!
Sorry I haven’t updated in a while! The last few weeks have been like I’ve been living at home but just somewhere else – cooking, staying home, playing with the cat, going for runs, going to the beach, sitting in the sun, eating food, browsing the internet, coffee dates with friends etc etc.
Now for some fantastic news: MY COMPUTER IS FIXED!!!! PRAISE THE LORD JESUS~~~
Obviously, I was pretty stoked but the language was set to Portuguese and Dilsa had to install an English language pack for me and even then it greets me in Portuguese whenever I log in 😛 haha
I went and emailed my employer back in NZ to tell her that I was back on board and ready to work IMMEDIATELY as I was/am running out of money to finance this Goddamn’d (yiss Lord, is what it feels like, permit me) trip.
After leading me to believe that she had work for me do, and days of not responding where I felt the need to follow up on my request for work this is what she said:
So. On the other side of the world, no cashflow, a quickly dwindling bank account and now…no job!!! Pretty much rock bottom. I started to look at return flights back home in the beginning/mid-July which I was only just going to be able to manage but something inside just didn’t quite sit well with me. I still felt in my heart that I shouldn’t quit, that I came here with the idea of looking for work as an English teacher which I *should* have been doing but in reality I was too busy lying on the beach in the sun or running around on microadventures around Porto City doing absolutely nothing towards reaching that end goal.
BUT THEN a miracle happened!!!
That same day later in the evening, I got a notification email from LinkedIn saying that someone wanted to add me. I opened the email and it was someone who was recruiting freelance transcriptionists. This is the first experience I’ve ever had where someone invited me to apply for anything through Linkedin. Usually jobhunting for me is anything but a walk in the park. But before I knew it, I had a link straight to a simple English grammar test and a sample of text to edit and 10 minutes later the application was done and all I had to do was wait for the outcome. Five days later, I got through and was ready to start the job! After tentatively picking up a few jobs (thinking this was all too good to be true, and being highly suspicious of the ease and timeliness of this whole thing) I got my first freelance paycheck. I was making money!!!
I ended up going to mass last Sunday in profuse thanksgiving and also just for the sake of it. Despite the constant shit hitting the fan on replay and my neverending complaints for every small thing that seemed sent specially just to irk me, I can’t help but be in humble awe and wonder at the limitlessness of God’s grace. I have complained A LOT despite everything, this whole trip and all the wonderful experiences I have had and been able to share with other people. Really just having the luxury of having this extended holiday not having to sweat the average, boring, everyday stuff back home.
God is good.
And I have successfully re-routed my return ticket from London to Hanoi, Vietnam!!! I will be teaching voluntarily in a small village near Hanoi running an annual English camp for two weeks in mid-July then looking for a job teaching English in Ho Chi Minh. Fingers crossed it won’t be a problem despite my lack of original documentation to support my credentials (I only have stamped copies!).
So no calling it quits and coming home! I will remain abroad until I can actually afford to come home which means I’m going to attempt to work (and continue to work from home) and buy myself a little time (and a bit more warmth and sunshine before returning home).
To all those souls praying for me out there, y’all are the bees knees and I doubt very much I’d be in this happy situation without the massive freakin’ love and support. And to Dilsa and Tiago for letting me crash with you! Your provision of a shelter, sharing of your home, hospitality, kindness have been a huge factor in my travels and have enabled me to come to Portugal and have such a life-affirming experience. Words can’t express my gratitude enough to you for enabling me to survive on this trip! These last two months I seriously doubt could have been more happily spent and I am proud to consider Porto and Portugal my second home which I hope I will be able to visit again in the future!