A number of years ago we were driving in Ireland, spending a lot of time looking at lesser-known stone circles and other ancient monoliths. This was 2012, and having full-blown, live-updating maps on your phone wasn’t common. We had declined the SatNav addition on the rental and were driving around the countryside using a paper map and directions Lisa had found online.
It was a bit harrowing.
There we were, driving on the wrong side of a road often bordered by vegetation-covered stone walls trying to figure out whether the small collapsing structure we just passed was the bothy we were supposed to turn right “just past” to find the referenced stone circle. This was typical of the directions we had. (Talking to locals often gave us a little more insight, but most places we went to really needed GPS coordinates.) That said, the thing that made us most nervous was the absence of road signs between towns, intersections, and crossroads.
Yes, the absence of signage.
Having traveled a bit more in Europe, it seems to us that the general attitude is that if there are no decisions to be made (like at a crossroads) or local pride (like when entering a town), there is no need for a sign to let you know what road you are on. You decided to turn in this direction, you know where you are going, you’ll get there. (On the big roads, like an A1, you do see more signage because its a safety issue to let you know in advance where you might need to exit. Or pee.) No regard for us poor Americans, coddled by constant signage to reassure us that this road will take us to where we want to go.
This anecdote illustrates an important point about Portugal (and, to some degree, Europe): you don’t get a lot of reassurance. If all is well, no one feels a need to tell you. There seems to be a basic presumption that you know what you’re doing, where you’re going, and why you made that choice.
Online, we see a lot of posts during the (endless)wait for the reply on the visa application. Ranging from, “I didn’t get an email letting me know my packet was sent to the Embassy,” to “I see other people getting approved after two weeks, what’s wrong with my application?” (And all of the options in between.) Waiting on the visa is a huge stressor! Made worse by (the typical) VFS “being helpful” and telling you that this number will allow you to track your application and having it be a huge inaccuracy. In the end, you probably won’t know your visa was approved until you get your passport back in the mail.
It’s good practice for the pace of life in Portugal.
Need your address changed? You’ll likely have to go to your bank, maybe after making an appointment with a manager, with proof of the new address in hand. And then it will take an hour to update your records, including scanning the document and signing a form. Want to change your phone/internet service? Go on down to the local business, take a number and hang out until its your turn. Be prepared to spend an hour waiting and then updating the account. Getting your utente? May take months. Oh and exchanging your driver’s license might be a year. (Yes, that does mean that you could be driving for months without a legal license. Fun, huh?)
Patience is to be cultivated.
While waiting for your visa approval, presume that you will be approved. You did your due diligence, you planned and read and prepped your packet. YOU KNOW YOU DID. So it’s just a waiting game. Instead of fretting, turn your attention to all of the other things you need to do to be able to act when that visa (finally) arrives. Are you packed? (or, do you know what you are taking?) How are you dealing with all of your other possessions? Are you saying goodbye? Not just to people, but places. Any last things you’ve wanted to do? Do them now. But also, give time to others to grieve for you. As excited as many of them are, some are hurt, others envious, and more feel they will never see you again. That’s a lot to process, give it the time it needs. How will your new life look and feel? Start working on that. What are you not doing that you will be in the new world? Can you start doing that (or any part of it) now?
Once the visa arrives your life will likely shift into overdrive, so get as much done before then as possible. Future you will thank you for it (and your stress level will be much lower).