Tânia Calçada and Hélder Fontes, Carlos Moreira and Margarida Gonçalves

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"I never imagined that at the institute (INESC TEC) I would have the opportunity to get to know and talk to the people whose articles I had read and admired...", Paola Soto Rojas (UESP)

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"My story in Portugal begins on a sunny day in February 2011. I can still remember the last moments of that freaky flight from Tehran (Iran) to Lisbon. When the plane landed, I had no idea of what was awaiting me." Samaneh Khoshrou (UTM)

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My life in Portugal…

by Samaneh Khoshrou*

My story in Portugal begins on a sunny day in February 2011. I can still remember the last moments of that freaky flight from Tehran (Iran) to Lisbon. When the plane landed, I had no idea of what was awaiting me.

I had read about the Portuguese colonial past in History class and I had seen some pictures of surviving monuments in Iran, especially the most important one, the Portuguese Castle, which is a red stone fortress on Hormuz Island. But the first thing that came to my mind when I thought about  Portugal was that it was the land of a golden generation of football players, which I now know is called the “Geração de Ouro”, a group of excellent players who wore beautifully coloured jerseys. I was very excited with the possibility of watching some of my favourite players at a stadium. But for sure, I had many other priorities.

I imagined that the Portuguese language (non-English language) would be a major concern in terms of communication. However, after passing the gate at the airport, I experienced something that I will never forget. I saw a homeless man asking for money in at least four different languages. He beautifully made my day and after that I was a little more relaxed.

After settling down, it was time to discover the city of Porto. For me everything was unexpectedly calm and quiet. No one rushing, no horns being honked, no traffic in the streets – it seemed that the city was too big for its population. Most people weren’t even walking – it seemed I just saw people sitting and enjoying their coffee. In this quiet atmosphere, people’s voices always sounded to me louder than they actually were. For me it was like walking on a calm and beautiful beach, with seagulls and doves flying around. What a relief it was!

One of the main things that I suffered from was the low temperatures indoors.  I am a Middle East baby and there fuel prices are a lot lower and so I’m used to warm rooms. Back home in Iran, even when outside the temperatures were below zero, I was safe inside with my own personal ‘summer’. So, it took me some time to learn how to deal with this new situation. But so far the weather has been kind here in Portugal.

I can also say that this new period of my life at work has also been giving me valuable experiences. For me, INESC TEC is not just a working place; it is a second home, a place where I am surrounded by loving and supporting friends, coming from different backgrounds, countries and cultures. I never feel alone. Every day is an adventure, a chance to learn from other cultures or simply spend some happy times with friends. Having skilled people around makes it all the more easy to learn about new topics. Every time I have a problem, I turn to my colleagues and benefit from their knowledge, looking for different points of view. Therefore, it is easier for me to find suitable answers to my problems.

Now that a year has passed since I arrived in Porto, I must take this opportunity to thank all the INESC TEC members who have been helping me, not only for the information and advice they have been giving me but also for the connections and moments they have been sharing with me. I still have three more years here in Portugal, so there’s still a lot for me to know and learn.

I say goodbye with an announcement. On 21st March, the Iranians will be celebrating the Persian New Year, Nowruz. “No Ruz”, “new day” or “New Year” as the Iranians call it, it is a celebration of the spring Equinox and it marks the first day of spring. So I wish you all a happy and prosperous spring!


*Collaborator at the Telecommunications and Multimedia Unit (UTM)