João Santos: “(…)I am myself a little bit of everyone that has crossed my path, and at the same time I give a little bit of me to be part of all the individuals that are part of my life.”
João is a portuguese nurse working and living in Edinburgh, a beautiful hilly and medieval city in Scotland. Like most people he misses his family and friends, but tells us how important it is for him to leave his country and find a new adventure so far away from home. His kindness and intelligence give him the power of making everyone around him feel better, that’s why he is working with health and people.
1 – How old were you when you moved to Edinburgh? What was the main reason to move?
I was 29 years old when I moved to Scotland. This is actually my second experience regarding moving to another country that is not my country of origin. After facing far from ideal labour conditions in Portugal, I decided that it was time to move forward and embrace this adventure.
2 – What kind of cultural characteristics have you absorbed from Scotland?
To be able to have a good balance between work and personal life and also to be capable of changing your path, professionally and personally, without prejudice from others.
3 – Do you think your origins have influenced people around you?
I do honestly think that everyone has the “power” to influence people around you; it’s like innate to human condition I believe. And so everyday I have the chance to give a little bit of me, of my culture, of my origin to others, through language, music and actual behaviours on a daily basis.
4 – What are the biggest challenges of living in a foreign country?
First of all comes the language. Even though I currently live in an English speaking country (one language that we, as portuguese citizens, have contact from young age), it’s always difficult to adapt. Then comes all the cultural diferences, some easy some hard to adapt to.
5 – Name the most positive aspects of Edinburgh.
There are several aspects that I deeply appreciate in Scotland. Starting with the proximity to nature, it’s absolutely perfect being able to just walk like 5 minutes from the city and be surrounded by nature. Then comes the variety of opportunities that are available to everyone regarding professional development. Last but not least, Scotland has one of the most nicest people in the world.
6 – During this time in a foreign country what have you learned about the human being? What sets us apart from each other?
I’ve come to realise that the human being is a strange creature indeed. It’s innate to human nature to always want something that he does not possess, and he demonstrates that by the incessant will to search for more, for better. What sets us apart from each other are our individual ambitions in life.
7 – What is missing in your home country that your current one has and vice versa?
One of the things that are missing in Portugal that I currently have in Scotland is Professional opportunities and development. One thing that I currently do not have in Scotland that I have in Portugal, is obviously the company and acquaintanceship from all the friends and family that I had to abdicate on a regular basis (unfortunately).
8 – Is there a favourite scottish dish you prefer?
That must be Haggis! Haggis is a savoury pudding containing sheep’s pluck (heart, liver, and lungs); minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices, and salt, mixed with stock, traditionally encased in the animal’s stomach. It’s not appealing at first sight but if you give it a change and try it, is absolute delicious!
9 – Which stereotype doesn’t make sense about Scotland?
In Scotland there aren’t sunny days. Before I moved in, several people told me how could I move to a country without sunny days, being myself used to live in Portugal, a country where the sun shines most of the year. That makes absolutely no sense, since I’ve arrived I’ve seen a lot of sunny days.
10 – What were your biggest fears before you moved?
Before I moved, the fear of failure, of not being able to succeed was the greatest fear that I felt. But it is just right after arrival that you start to think that something can, indeed, go wrong. I think it’s important to remain calm and have positive thinking, to stay positive and confident about your decision.
11 – From the legal point of view, was the social framework easy? Do you have any advice for someone moving in?
Minor difficulties aside, it was easy to get into this social framework. Being a society open to change, it is easy to be part of it. For someone who is moving in my advice is, to have an open mind regarding social diferences (that always exist no matter how open the said society is), and be part of the society that you are trying to get into.
12 – What are the greatest labor differences between Portugal and Scotland?
The respect for the worker as a person, as an individual. In Scotland there is this sense of individual value, that each individual as something of great value to offer to the group.
13 – What is your favourite city spot in Edinburgh?
A Costa Coffee shop in Princes Street with an extraordinary view over the city.
14 – Where do you feel “at home” in Edinburgh? Is there a specific place?
At the same place mentioned above. From the first time that I visited the city as a tourist, long before moving permanently, that this specific place felt like home. Its the sweet combination of a great hot coffee, all the people talking, sharing their histories and a mesmerising view over the city. I makes me feel “at home”.
15 – Do you have a favourite restaurant in Edinburgh?
There is this restaurant chain called Wetherspoon, which has a fantastic environment and some great cheap food available. Its great to grab some friends together and go for some beers and some food.
16 – What is it for you to be real? / What defines you as a person?
To have values that represent my origin and the places where I’ve been. I think the human being is a mutable creature, and therefore being an human, I am too. From younger age we learn and assimilate ideas, concepts from all those experiences that defines us as who we are today. It is a constant exchange of bits and pieces between people, hence I am myself plus a little bit of everyone that has crossed my path, and at the same time I give a little bit of me to be part of all the individuals that are part of my life.
1 Tablespoon of Olive Oil
1 Medium Onion, finely diced
1 Medium Carrot, finely diced
1 Stick Celery, finely diced
500g Minced Beef
200g Pack of Smoked Bacon Lardon
500g Tomato Sauce
A pinch of Salt and Black Pepper
Grated Parmesan Cheese
Warm the Olive Oil in a pan on a medium heat, then add the onion, carrot, celery and diced bacon, and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes until softened but not burnt.
Crumble the minced beef into the pan, and stir to brown the meat. Season and cook for a further 5 minutes.
Add the Tomato sauce and a pinch of salt and pepper, and dried basil if using, then turn the heat down and cover the pan, and cook on a low heat so that it’s bubbling gently. Let it simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add a little water if it looks too dry, and leave to simmer for another few minutes whilst you cook the pasta.
Cook the Pasta in a large pan of boiling water, with a pinch of salt, for 10 to 12 minutes. When the Pasta is how you like it – ‘al dente’, or slightly softer – drain the Pasta.