What We Could Learn from Portuguese (Part 1)

As an Indonesian living abroad, I’ve been experiencing an abundance of great things ever in my life. I met a lot of people with pretty much different stuff like age, language, culture and you name it. Not only is it shocking, but also it’s either challenging. Fortunately, I’m living in Porto, Portugal, short of a perfect city to stay and start a new whole life for a year.

Why did I say that? Simply because I love being here. Portuguese people are super nice and warm, even to strangers. I’ve been to many countries in Europe but still I could see the differences. Honestly, it doesn’t mean that other European people are rude, not friendly, or something. But as an Asian whose way of living is totally different from European, I feel more accepted here.

I actually did a list which I think Indonesian could learn from Portuguese. So without any further do, here we go.

1. Age doesn’t really matter

Since the first day of my arrival here, I was so impressed knowing the truth that nearly all the people here were so productive. I saw so many elderly on the street, bus, or even fancy places like shopping malls and cafes. I was in a Café while doing my project and I found out the waitress was a lady. I could guess that her age might not be less than 45 years old.

I don’t know but I guess it’s pretty much common here to hire middle-aged adults. Even though they aren’t young anymore but their energy is always up and powerful. The lesson is pretty obvious that age doesn’t really matter.

Another example, I have some colleges in the University of Porto who are in the middle-aged category as well. They aged between 25-35 years old. But the way they study doesn’t reflect that they’re aged. They are so passionate about studying in order to pursue the degree and enhance their capabilities in particular discipline.

Portuguese people in Portuguese Night by ESN Porto

Honestly, I don’t even know how the rules of university admission work. But as far as I know, there is no limitation in term of age. So people from any age could still apply and continue their study in public university.

Compared to Indonesia, I rarely see or even meet student aged more than what a normal student supposed to have. It’s even impossible for those whose age exceeded the maximum age to get into Public University. Since in Indonesia we have an age limit when it comes to accepting new student (maximum two years after graduating from high school). Yet, they could choose private school (but with higher tuition fee indeed).

I do appreciate and become ashamed at the same time. Because at this so-called productive age, I don’t have such a big effort when doing something. It seems like I let everything flows on its own, meanwhile portuguese people here force themselves to jump a thousand miles ahead towards the goals.

2. Be respectful to everyone

Five days in a week, I commute to my faculty by using either bus or metro. Still, I need to walk at least five minutes to reach the nearby bus stop or metro station. Times passing by, I might be a good observer of Portuguese drivers and I really acknowledge them. Why? Portuguese drivers are super polite and respectful.

Whenever I’m going to cross the road, either bus or car would politely let the pedestrian go first. Even though the traffic light was red, still, they would let us cross. There was a moment when I was about to cross a road, but I didn’t notice the traffic light at the moment, I should have died if the driver didn’t reduce his car speed and eventually stop. Instead of screaming or putting a bad face like an angry person, he asked me politely to pay attention to the traffic light whilst pointing to it.

Portuguese people are crossing the road

I know that nothing is perfect in this world. Among millions of Portuguese people, there is always somebody who might not meet our expectation. But still, I could generally say Portuguese people are cool when it comes to respecting other people, particularly if you are non-locals.

In a metro station, I’m used to observing how people behave and react to such an event. I know that in most of the so-called developed countries, everyone is in hurry, so does here. Although the metro station is frequently crowded (Trindade, main metro station in Porto), but people are patiently waiting for their turn to get on. They tend to let people get off first instead of being in a crowd crush.

In Trindade Station, main metro station in porto

Before leaving Indonesia, on September, I was in the capital city of Jakarta. As the biggest city in Indonesia, people are undoubtedly diverse. For some reasons, I couldn’t stay calm when waiting to get on the train, otherwise, I wouldn’t manage to get onto it and had to wait for another train. FYI, in Jakarta during rush hour, the crowd is normally insane. Thus, it’s necessary to be a little bit selfish sometimes.

I do know that there are many factors regarding this phenomenon. We could say that facilities, infrastructures, economic situation do matter in determining how people act or behave. But still, the root of this issue is a matter of habit. In my opinion, Indonesia wouldn’t be greater unless the people know how to live the life properly (respect other people, infrastructures, the differences and stuff).

3. Honesty is priceless

The scene took place at the metro station. Almost every day I go to Trindade station for going to somewhere or just passing through it and taking the elevator (because my apartment is right behind the station). For your information, here in Porto, there are no automated ticket barriers. So if you’re traveling in Porto by metro, all you have to do is to always validate your ticket in any standing ticket validation machine.

A man and a ticket validation machine in front of him

What does it mean? It means that all people actually could board without a ticket. Just in case if you’re caught by a ticket inspector, then you’ll be fined roughly a hundred euros. I used to get on the metro without having a ticket, fortunately, I was lucky by then.

I often witness that everyone obeys the rule. I used to ask my Portuguese friend for not buying a ticket (because it’s not that distant), but apparently, he refused to do so. It’s not a matter of money or fine, but it’s all about the character that he belongs to. Again, I didn’t mean to generalize that everyone is honest here, but this is what I believe so far, taking the positives and leaving the negatives.

Those things are easy to do but staying consistent with positive habits can be a challenge, said Lewis Howes.



  • de eka

    budayanya memang beda ya mas..
    kalau disini saling sapa menyapa dan silaturahmi kental sekali.. tapi jika itu ada di portugal, pastinya sangat menyenangkan bisa hidup disnaa..

  • Dimas

    Same happened to dutch people too, or I would say white-caucasians in general. Both share the same values when it comes to life ettiquetes in daily basis . For the record, I also reckon that the way they perceive the differences with an open mind is the one thing we could really bear in mind and that’s what we should have stood a firm on.

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