Our days here are definitely settling down into a nice pattern, and I’m getting a better idea of what our “daily life” in Lisbon will look like. It’s extremely different from what it is in Santa Cruz, but then, that’s the point, right?

Example: I headed out yesterday morning to my first real Portuguese class. There I learned proper pronunciation and talked about strange things like the Portuguese national ID card, which everyone here is required to have. I was astonished to see that it contains such information as your parents’ full names, your date and place of birth, and all kinds of other private information.

As an American, I find it horrifying to have all that information in one place, but my teacher found our system equally strange. She asked, “If it’s so hard to emigrate to the States, how does anyone know that you’re not a citizen if you don’t have to have an ID card?” I had to admit that I was stumped on that one. Except for when you get a job, as far as I know, you never need to produce proof of citizenship.

And the cultural exchange continues.

After class, I walked back down the hill via the grocery store, where I picked up the limited amount of things that are A) available and B) I can carry. One thing we’re quickly learning about grocery shopping here: the selection at the local stores is miserable, and we’ve been eating the same things over and over again since we got here 3 weeks ago. Today we’re taking the Metro up to a big giant grocery store just so that we can get more stuff and have it delivered to our flat, since the monotony is wearing on us both.

I came home after grocery shopping, ate lunch, did some work, then went back out again to the gym. There I chatted with a few different people, as one main reason I joined was to provide me with social interaction outside of the house. So there’s me, the crazy American, sweating away as I chatted people up left and right — and for those of you who know how introverted I really am, I’m sure that comes as a surprise! But hey, you gotta start somewhere.

On my way back up the hill (slowly), I stopped at the fruiteria on the corner to see what she was selling — everywhere is always different, depending on what they’ve had delivered and what’s in season. I picked up some tangerines, which I hadn’t seen yet, some sweet peppers, and a few other things, all of which came to 3 euros 15. I only had 3 euros 11 cents in change, but she took it anyway and let me off easy. I walked the remaining half a block to our house, and waved to the restauradore across the street (who was working on an antique bed frame yesterday) as I came in the door.

So there you go: a day in the life. As a good friend pointed out on Facebook (hi Mags!), except for bartering with the lady for the fruit, it sounds like an American Express commercial — eating fresh tangerines on my way home and waving to the restauradore next door: priceless.

In fact, that’s kind of how life feels here all the time. Walking to language class next to a wall overgrown with bougainvillea against a clear blue sky? Priceless. Missing the first big winter storm at home while it’s over 90 degrees here? Definitely priceless. Standing in long lines and eating the same thing every day because it’s all that’s available? Well, not so priceless, but all part of the experience nonetheless.

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