Convo’s with strangers? a remote contract retro

3 min readJul 20, 2022


A public sign for direction to castelo de Sao Jorge
Enroute to castelo de Sao Jorge

I have ALWAYS wanted to work as a designer abroad, I’ll go anywhere to explore! Traveling makes me more so curious, brave and the influence on my work is welcome.

I have more conversations with strangers, tend to sketch daily, and look around — really drinking my surroundings in. I research the history of a place and like to figure out why they built /how and what value it serves to the people.

I took a remote contract for a startup and decided to do this in Portugal 🇵🇹 as they have presence in this beautiful country and adventure beckoned.

Here are my pros and best memories 😃

• The time zone is the same as 🇬🇧, comms with the team back home is easy, no time disruptions.
• The wifi signal is as excellent as promised. I got all my work done in same expected time frames and no figma browser performance issues this whole time.
• At times I forgot I was in a different country to the squad— the power of quality communications and bonds at work.
• When you work at a place of different people, different backgrounds and locations it always impacts innovation and the culture of ‘solving problems’, this magic and power is not lost on the product, users and business.
• Chances to connect with other designers here, learning about their methods, what they think is the future and what makes them happy!
• I felt a boosted quality of life, after work I got to visit many jardim havens, pastelarias (pastry shops), go for much needed walks to reset and see the city from different angles.
• Portuguese are hardworking as any of us, and yet more chill at work (personal vibes I ❤️!)
• My building hosted other professionals from countries including Brazil, Italy, Denmark, France and the mix of diverse women is so awesome for new learnings and perspectives.
• I felt pretty alive living and working here 😃

A collage of my photos from Portugal

Here are my cons and other thoughts

•A few times I ventured out to work from other spaces, it’s hard to find co-working spaces in the city. I don't recommend the pastelarias or coffee spots as they are usually very crowded. You might struggle to get your mac and smoothie on a decent surface
• Not everyone is working the same hours as you, when I took meetings or presented in the evenings I preferred to be in the apartment, so it can feel like you spent a very long day in your room if you didn't go out mid day to break from the screen.
• I packed light, didn't have a 2nd monitor. I missed the extra screen for separating artifacts, zooming in on details and having Slack in my peripheral.
• Poor foresight, not packing my noise cancellation headphones, I didn't appreciate how loud cities are. But the earbuds did okay!
• Many times I've eaten in places that don't serve tea, so I've learned to drink cafe and it keeps me awake longer 🥹 haha.
• I struggled to find design meetups in the city that I fancied joining, most seem to be focused on the crypto scene. I missed the incredible variety we have, especially in London for the spectrum of design talks.

Overall, I would do this again in a heartbeat, I’ve seen incredible things, scaled historic castles and monasteries, worked on illustrations, spoken and shared friendships with new people and I'm proud of the work I did here.

If an opportunity finds you … take it! I know I will again!




I design experiences and interfaces for a living. I believe that life can always be more simple.