Often when we go to another country, especially for a longer time we have to deal with some sort of a cultural shock. You can notice many differences between mentalities, behaviors, customs, traditions and moreover. In my case, after coming to Portugal I didn´t feel this shock so much, I can even point out some similarities between the two countries. Nevertheless, there are also many differences that for some people can be confusing.
First of all, portuguese people treat the passing time quite differently than polish ones. Reluctance to hurry sometimes might be frustrating but I have to say that when it comes to work-related issues they always precisely do their duties and meet their obligations. In Portugal a lot of things (despite intercity trains and busses) is late about 10-15 minutes. It´s just normal so if you go somewhere or make appointment with a friend don´t be suprised and nervous if they arrive a little bit late. Moreover, portuguese people are used to waiting. I noticed that one of the important words they use here a lot is esperar which has two meanings – to wait and to hope. When you think about it, you realize that it makes a lot of sense – two words are really connected. Another world used a lot is calma so remember – no rush!
I think this particular relationship with the time is characteristic for southern countries, I already noticed it before when I was living in Greece – but there instead of 15 minutes usually it was more than 30 minutes.
On the other hand, this reluctance to hurry doesn´t apply to the traffic. Portuguese people usually drive quite fastly and pedestrians confuse red and green light. The thing that suprised me here very positively is that drivers almost always stop and let pedestrians to cross the street. In Poland it´s not so common.
Another thing is time of meals. Portuguese people eat lunch between 12-15, dinner usually is eaten late – between 19-22. Both meals are quite huge what for polish people might be suprising. We got used to eating dinner just after work, so usually it´s around 5pm. This one is the biggest meal of the day, sometimes consists of two dishes – soup and main dish. After that around 7-9pm we eat supper (polish word is kolacja and here one funny fact: in italian colazione is breakfast), which is rather small snack – salad, sandwiches or something sweet. You should remember about opening hours of restaurants because some of them are closed between lunch and dinner time, so exactly when polish people are eating their dinner!
Furthermore, I noticed another perception of personal space and physical contact between two countries. For example, in Portugal to say hello people kiss each other twice on the cheeks. Even if it´s somebody that you just met and see for the first time. In Poland if you see somebody for the first time, usually you shake hands. With close friends usually it´s a hug, sometimes a kiss on the cheek (but just one, not two).
After all, I think that the culture shock is good for us. Even if at the beginning it might cause some negative feelings finally it brings also many benefits – turning from something known and familiar to unknown it´s always good because it kills prejuidices, makes us more opened-minded and helps to learn many new things.