My first day in Nottingham with the Robin Hood Statue, September 18, 2019

Where should I start? From the time when I always wanted to come to the UK, to the time where I’m here now.

Or from the beginning, then moving to the middle and finally to the present day?

Ever since I was young, most likely due to my fangirling obsession with the British boy band One Direction (if you didn’t know about them already), I romanticised the UK and moving here one day to either to study or work became one of my life dreams.

I would never consider it a goal, but it always sounded like a dream.

It was a dream that was there, but too far to reach. 

However, everything changed in my final years of high school (year 13) when I found out about an opportunity to study in the UK.

All the emotions that went through my head, was this what I really wanted? Did I want to leave my parents behind? How would I move to a different country? 

In a matter of seconds, the answer was yes.

How many times in life are we offered the chance to take a risk in ourselves, and defy nature and everything we learned and grew to?

My mum always told me that she knew I was a person of the world, that I wanted to go out there, explore, breathe and live. 

I took the opportunity, I packed my massive suitcases and in September 2019 I embarked on a journey, an adventure.

September 18, 2019, the day I embarked on the journey

As my dad always likes to say “You moved alone at 18 to a whole new country with three suitcases bigger than you, that’s brave”.

I wouldn’t say brave was moving here, I’d say brave was finding the courage to talk to people, ask directions and make friends. That was the scary part, not getting on a plane. 

I still remember the first week of university as if it was yesterday, so many students and so much life. I was passionate about Nottingham but terrified that I would be on my own. 

My housemates were amazing. We were all freshers, we were all starting a new chapter of our lives, so we instantly became close. We did everything together, including partying (which I wasn’t a fan of until I moved here, low-key party animal now).

My first ever Goose Fair with some of my housemates
My first Halloween in the UK with some of my housemates

But at university, everyone seemed so friendly with each other, so comfortable in the English language and I felt lost but soon was found by three other girls, Kirke, Katie, and Ellie. 

Katie, Kirke, me and Ellie during 2nd year

I must say those are the girls that stayed with me through these years and I couldn’t have had more luck with the people that fell in my life at the time. 

Studying journalism, a course that I was in love with the moment I entered my first lecture, having friends, good housemates, exploring a whole new city, making memories that I will never forget, I was living my best life and I knew it for sure.

Surprise, surprise

March 2020, virus alert, people in Europe are alarmed, afraid, but I’m in the UK still living my best life, making the most out of it until my parents tell me to go home.

What was happening and how serious was it?

COVID got in the way between me and the UK.

I went back to Portugal from March until September where I had all my classes online, couldn’t see my friends, couldn’t go out, couldn’t laugh and cry and speak English.

I was back where I grew.

Facetiming my best friends who were in the UK whilst I was back in Portugal

Things seemed to get better in September 2020 so I was ready to go back, put even more effort into my 2nd year of university, and be reunited with my friends.

It is like living a double life, one in Portugal, one in the UK.

Do you know when you’re playing video games and you want to change the game? You just insert another game into the box and there you go.

That is me with planes, back and forth to the UK.

Different people, different languages, the same me but a different me in the most confusing ways.

Some government restrictions, some classes online, but I was able to still have a life, hang out with people, and make the so wished memories. 

Once again, surprise, surprise, not everything is a sea of roses.

After I went home for Christmas I was stuck there, COVID got worse, the university went online once again, more restrictions were put in place and why would I be paying rent if I had to be stuck in a house?

I stayed in Portugal from December 2020 until September 2021, and it was an experience. 

Making the most of my time stuck in Portugal and going on holidays with my best friend Daniel

How could I say I was studying in Nottingham in the UK if I was in Portugal doing nothing?

I had a great time in Portugal, however where was my university experience that I so much wished all these years growing up?

Where were the best years of my life as everyone says? 

Me and two of my British friends Evelyn and Vanessa visiting me in Portugal, summer 2021

I’d say that COVID taught me a lesson, taught me how to appreciate the smallest things in life and moment, appreciate people, and value life.

(First time seeing snow in the UK in front of my university, 2020)

I haven’t had the most straight path at university, ups, and downs, back and forth, however, I wouldn’t change it, because I’ve changed and I’ve grown from all of it.

Final year, September 2021, this was it.

Can’t go back now, it’s the last year before I graduate and I’m not letting a virus that has been here for two years now ruin my last opportunity. 

Sunny days, rainy days, cloudy days.

It is confusing weather in the UK, but I am at university, I can study, I can go out, I can meet my friends, I can travel and most of all I can live and make the most out of it.

Third-year of university, where I found a part-time job, I am learning shorthand (or trying to), finding balance in life, walking towards the future, towards a job, and towards graduation.

These are the last steps of once in a lifetime experience, but I will not let it end there. I’ve made friends for life, I’ve learned about myself and what I am capable of and if it was to say something to the future Marta is that this is only the beginning of life because I now am living my best life and I know it for sure. 


Me and my best friends in Nottingham during 1st year of University, 2019


Me and my best friends in Nottingham during 3rd year of University, 2021