Alla has worked in IT for over seven years, dealing with test automation. A year ago, she moved first to Georgia and then to Portugal, to Porto, where Joan Rowling began writing "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone".
What are the pros and cons of being a digital nomad? How does an expat stop being a "perpetual tourist"? And what do "Friends" have to do with it? Read a new interview about immigration experiences.
Why did you decide to immigrate?
The idea of living in some other country came long ago. After all, it's a new experience, new acquaintances. I was going to do it later, but last year made adjustments. Initially, I decided to go with a work contract from some company to Germany or the Netherlands. But in 2022, things didn't go according to plan.
The company relocated other employees and me to Georgia. But I decided to try to move somewhere else. Portugal attracted me with its climate and immigration policy. And the country seemed interesting.
I had traveled a lot, but I had never been to Portugal. Although I had plans to visit it, I even had already bought tickets! But we got "caught up" by the covid. I had to wait for the trip, so I chose the country in absentia. I did not immediately reject living in Germany or the Netherlands. Still, there was much more complex at that time regarding the cost of living and opportunities for legalization.
A couple of weeks ago, I got a residence permit in Portugal. It seemed that I should be happy, but for some reason, I had this strange feeling that all the time I was looking for was a catch.
For the following two years, I can live peacefully, without fear that immigration policy will change and I will have to leave.
How seriously has your life changed with immigration?
I feel the loss of my friends, but since everyone has left for different countries. So what I miss most of all is the non-existing Petersburg. But at the same time, I only concentrate a little on that: Portugal is an excuse to make new contacts.
You have probably already heard the parallel: Lisbon is like Moscow, and Porto is like St. Petersburg. The two largest cities in Portugal have a similar "confrontation." Do you agree with it?
Partly yes. I chose Porto and not Lisbon because of some inner association with St. Petersburg. What I like about Porto is that it is a quieter, more sober city with a more measured life. That's both a plus and a minus. I have a similar feeling in Amsterdam, where you can also find references to St. Petersburg.
I live close to the ocean and the seafront. When I moved to Portugal, I felt how great it was: I walked out fifteen minutes later, and you're already near the ocean. I think this alone was worth all the effort of moving :) A little cafe by the sea, you sit and drink coffee, quietly watching the waves.
You've been in immigration for about a year now. They say that moving allows us to discover a new country and learn about ourselves.
I have learned that no matter the circumstances, I can put my will in my fist and do something, and everything will work out. I've changed several countries this year, and now I realize you can adapt everywhere. You can find someplace where you feel good no matter what country you are in. For example, the same coffee shop around the corner.
I used to find the life of a digital nomad very interesting. Now I realize that it's a little complicated. You live in each place for a month. Then you move on. It takes some time to adapt, but then you slowly come out of your shell and explore where you ended up.
It's great when you have a place to return to. You can always go back there when you have that one central hub you consider home. And when you don't have that feeling, it's hard. Anyway, I wanted to find a place that was "home." Where you can buy yourself something from Ikea, :)
I would like to integrate. I started to learn Portuguese just a month ago. So far, I can say some basic, essential phrases. Portuguese is surprisingly similar to Russian in some places, even in pronunciation.
The level of English is very high in Portugal. Suppose you compare it with France or Germany. Many people here speak English and speak it more readily. You could, of course, do without English, but by learning the language, the feeling of being an eternal tourist disappears. You're more integrated when you can explain yourself in the local language. You feel more fluent.
When you've had challenging moments, what has helped you switch it up – books, movies?
It has nothing to do with the topic of immigration. For me, it's the series "Friends." For me, it's my safe space. I've watched it several times. When everything around you is complicated and incomprehensible, but you come home, take out your laptop, turn on the series, and re-immerse yourself in a world where everything is clear, everything is good, familiar characters, familiar stories.
And my friends moved too, and we supported each other. When you have roughly the same path and around, give or take, the same challenges, it's very supportive.
The hardest part is not giving up when plans are constantly changing. The door closes – you climb out the window. The hardest thing is to keep going. In any case, the residence permit is not the endpoint. There will be a billion more difficulties. Immigration is not a process for a year or three but for a much more extended time.
Are you ready for that?
Is there a choice? :)
What made your immigration easier?
I had a lot of help from MigRun. I bought the paperwork I needed for the immigration process (Nif, Niss, etc.) on the platform. I also took some advice on moving to a highly qualified professional.
I am not a big fan of "help" companies, but MigRun is not one of them; according to my feeling – there is a different attitude to the process. I liked the platform itself. The first thing I looked into was the guides on the website. I considered moving to Turkey; at that time, the Digital Nomad visa, which would be suitable for me, did not yet exist, so an option considered the visa D7 for people with passive income. The guides helped me decide and choose another strategy to move.
I was impressed by how they communicated in chat and did it for free, most importantly, without forcing their services. All of this gave me great credibility, so I chose MigRun. I also recommend them to my friends now.
When you packed your suitcase, did you put something optional with you? Something memorable to you?
When I left, the weight of my luggage was minimal. But before I moved to Portugal, I had already been to Malaysia. There, in one of the night markets, I bought a painting of a typical little Asian city, and I brought it to Porto. For me, it's a reminder of that fall: when terrible things were happening around, but here is a bastion of beauty.
I love to travel. My choice of country was also because if you live in Europe, there are many opportunities to travel within the EU and access important transportation hubs in Paris or Amsterdam.
When you travel, you compare your country to other countries; you talk to people, your mind becomes more open to the world, and you are more tolerant of different opinions.
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