by Ana Santos Silva
picture of Coimbra, by Ana
What does it mean to be born in and to grow up in Portugal? What core values does the average Portuguese grow up with?
Family was the first that came to my mind and is definitely important to Portuguese people. Like all my friends in my age-group (twenties), I still live with my parents and I will probably continue to do so until I find a solid relationship. It is normal for us to leave home only when we are ready to establish and continue the lifestyle we grew up in. Even when we leave home to study abroad, we tend to telecommunicate with our core family members on a somewhat daily basis and we always have our bedrooms waiting us at home. Feels heartwarming for me!
This first value is intimately related to the second one: education. As we are encouraged to be as successful as we can be at school and to go as far as possible in the educational system; this might explain why we are unable to afford living on our own due to the fees we have to pay to proceed with university studies.
Another core value is freedom. Portugal was under a dictatorship for forty years, until 1974. The sense of freedom tends to be more valued by people who were born in the 50’s or earlier – those who lived through suppression and were prohibited from talking, singing, writing, reading and listening to what they wanted to. Anyway, as this was such a recent event in our history that left unforgettable marks on the country, the effects are not completely lost on the young people, as freedom is not taken for granted as it might be in other countries.
Last, and very important as my father would point out, the Portuguese nation recognizes the honor, the dignity, the integrity, the audacity of its compatriots. Many Portuguese men and women will always be remembered due to their great character.
Obviously, these core values I have mentioned represent the view of a young woman, specifically me!, and probably are not symbolic for all Portuguese natives. Moreover, some values tend to remain through history while others seem to disappear or emerge, like ecology, solidarity and health.
Inevitably, my choice of these four values have also been influenced by my interaction with (which I am grateful for) other young people from countries like Spain, Poland and Finland. I believe that you cannot truly define your culture until you have been in contact with others who are different from you.